Paul and Sheryl Shard: “Sailing is freedom, adventure and beauty”

Paul and Sheryl Shard sailed and lived aboard since 1989. They learned a lot sailing to “distant shores” on 5 continents over 26 years of international cruising, putting 100,000 miles under the keel and doing 7 ocean crossings during that time. They share that experience with others through magazine articles, boat show seminars and internationally syndicated television documentaries, as “The Distant Shores” sailing adventure TV series. We met them.

You have sailed and lived aboard since 1989, putting 100,000 miles under the keel and doing 7 ocean crossings. How did you start your adventure?

In 1986 my wife Sheryl and I started building a boat and spent the next three years getting her ready for the big trip. We were still in our twenties and planned a 1-2 year sabbatical but continued never dreaming sailing would become our career and our lifestyle.
We started by leaving from Toronto to go south via the Intracoastal Waterway in the USA to the Bahamas and Caribbean, then sailed across the Atlantic exploring the Azores, Portugal and Spain and many more countries in a 3-year adventure. During our first 3-year trip around the Atlantic Ocean we were filming (our background is television production and journalism) and that became a documentary that was broadcast on the Discovery Channel. We have been filming the sailing life ever since then.


You share that experience with others through magazine articles, boat show seminars and your internationally syndicated television documentaries. Then is possible to get your life from sailing?

Sailing and filming the adventure has become our life and our job as well. It’s a great job!! Our television series, Distant Shores, has been broadcast in 25 languages and is seen by millions around the world.

What are your future plans?

We are always planning new destinations, new cruises. Right now we are looking at exploring the Pacific. There are so many places yet to sail and explore! We will continue filming the voyage and hopefully inspiring others to get out cruising. It has been a great pleasure to meet up with sailors around the world who have been able to use our TV show as inspiration to get out sailing.

Sailing and filming the adventure has become our life and our job as well

Paul and Sheryl Shard

Tell us about your ideal boat.

We very much admire the Southerly sailboats since they are shallow for exploring, but still sail well for oceans. But any boat that gets you out sailing (safely) is a good boat. For us its a monohull 40-50 feet long with a reasonable draft (less than 6’6 is good). Because we carry a lot of camera gear we seem to have gone for the larger end of that range.

Paul and Sheryl Shard

What are the five places where to sail at least once in their lifetime?

We have enjoyed sailing and exploring so many destinations its difficult to choose … but here goes (not in any particular order)

The British Virgin Islands – great sailing for a shorter vacation – 1-2 weeks is perfect. The islands have such predictable nice sailing winds and easy passages they are great especially for people who are just getting started in sailing. If someone in your crew needs a little encouragement to embrace the sailing life then the BVI are for you.

Caribbean – Leeward Islands – based out of Saint Martin a cruise around Anguilla, St Barths, Guadeloupe Antigua and the nearby islands is more advanced than the BVI but with the same great Caribbean winds. Antigua is a beautiful part of the Caribbean and is great for sailing. While we never spent much time on the islands, we noticed some lovely antigua rentals for those who are interested in taking a look. 

Greece & Turkey – We very much enjoyed the Greek Aegean Islands and the Turkish Coast as a cruising ground. So much culture and history, and good sailing.

Adriatic Croatia – protected by the Croatian Islands the sailing from Dubrovnik up north is a lovely historic sailing area. Busy in mid-jul through the end of August the season around that is much quieter.

Bahamas – we keep coming back to the amazing blue waters of these islands. It’s more difficult to charter here (although there are options in Exuma and Abaco) and the area is quite large, so this cruise might be best on your own boat. We have returned a number of times and filmed many television shows exploring the shallow seas here.


Our classic final question: what does it mean sailing for you?

For us, sailing is the best way to explore our wonderful world. Sailing is freedom, adventure and beauty. We carry our home with us, and have our base always there. We have been privileged to see so much of our planet and record the experience to share with others and help them to fulfill their dreams of sailing the world on their boats.

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