AN epic voyage has brought Woolgoolga native Tanya Scarr and her family full circle after spending most of this year sailing across the world.

Together with husband Joel and twin three-year-old daughters Isabelle and Gracie, Tanya left her Cayman Islands home in February aboard the yacht Little Sailors.

Along the way they've dodged supertankers in the Panama Canal, scrubbed the bottom of the boat in shark infested waters near the Galapagos Islands and enjoyed island hopping through the Pacific including about three months in French Polynesia.

With young daughters, Joel and Tanya said they wanted to come back to Australia to be closer to their parents.

Joel grew up sailing in Hobart and taking on a trip of this scale had been a long-time dream.

"You could quit work and fly back in a couple of days, but we felt that would be too quick," Tanya said.

Traversing the Panama Canal and its series of locks was one of the most complicated and sometimes nail-biting parts of the trip.

"We really knew we were on our trip when we got to Panama, feeling our way through those massive tankers," Joel said.

Using the massive system of locks that links the Atlantic and the Pacific isn't nearly as simple as it might look, with the Scarrs having to recruit Joel's parents, a friend and a professional to help guide the boat through a system designed with enormous cargo ships in mind.

The sight of the Bridge of the Americas, a span that links North and South America, with their yacht intact after some close calls was a huge relief for the family.

Next stop was the famed Galapagos Islands where they were boarded by Ecuadorian officals, including the Navy and Customs, who inspected the boat to make sure they weren't introducing any foreign biological material that could contaminate the biodiversity of the region.

"They had to check the underside of the yacht so before we got their I was in the water scrubbing to get anything off about 150 miles offshore," Joel said.

"We saw this 25ft open fishing boat and waved them over, they didn't speak any English - but their tiny little boat was just full of sharks.

"So there I was scrubbing as much off the boat as I could, in the spot where they were longlining for sharks."

Tanya and Joel agree their daughters have adjusted to life at sea with ease, knowing how to be safe and embracing the sometimes unpleasant weather conditions.

Anyone interested in more about the journey can visit Tanya's blog.



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