The Story of Chuffed: Why I gave up 'real life' to sail and save animals!



I (Dr Sheddy) was born in Queensland, Australia, in a rural beach town. I have ALWAYS loved animals and even as a little girl would rescue frogs from the rain, hand reared baby birds and kept insisting we needed more pets.

My journey on Chuffed began, perhaps in an unusual way compared to most sailors. I had never thought about living on a boat, but my ex-husband (Joel) was a mad keen sailor. And so the idea of sailing and living aboard entered my life through someone else, how ever despite the marriage breaking down on board I feel very grateful to have been led to this amazing lifestyle.

One of my first patients as a vet student...

One of my first patients as a vet student...

I have been so lucky in my career to have worked with an amazing array of animals all over the world. I started my career as a cat and dog vet, and quickly became the towns exotic pet vet and specialized in Birdy medicine. I then became the head wildlife vet for a busy koala hospital in South Australia before moving to China to help rescue bears! It has been an absolute whirl wind, and kept me busy and content.

Now not only do I save animals, but I fix engines, raise sails, drop anchor and am as Chuffed as can be!


SV Chuffed was built in 1990 in the Gamelin ship yards of France. She is a 37ft Aluminium Hull sail boat and her previous owner had run out of time for her in his older age. Joel watched Chuffed online for 11 months as the price slowly dropped from $90,000 USD, to $60K and finally to $45K at which point he jumped on a plane to Panama to check her out in person. As he was flying through the air I saw online that she had been sold! Joel was rightfully devastated but figured he would stick around in Panama and see what happened.

With in days Joel had received a phone call to say the sale and fallen through and she was now on offer for $25K and so we bought her!!!

Chuffed is an older lady and in need of some repairs. She is in shape to sail, but small jobs like wiring, plumbing, cleaning and all the rest need fixing. The truth is a sail boat is always in need of repairs and most old cruisers tell you it's a bucket in the water to throw your money into.

You might also be wondering what Chuffed means - its Aussie/English slang very pleased or content... which is exactly what we are!!!

Joel was originally the captain and ship-repairman, but since our divorce in 2018 I have taken over as Captain, head mechanic, budgeter, video editor and veterinarian… no wonder I am busy! But I truly love living aboard and keeping my lovely girl Chuffed afloat.


SV Chuffed in Panama... doesn't she have some fine lines!

SV Chuffed in Panama... doesn't she have some fine lines!

The beauty of Chuffed is that I can combine my many passions of travel, surfing, sailing and animal care into an amazing adventure that I hope can help inspire people and change the world one community at a time! Vet Tails offers free veterinary care and education to the communities and animals that need it most as we travel. For now we are travelling around Central America, taking our time so we can really help these animals.

So how do I live with out working?

I have always enjoyed the simple things and never really spent my money on anything but travel, often volunteering in strange and exotic places. I have savings from when I worked, but the hope, as time goes on, is my Documentary Series on Chuffed’s adventures will help keep the dream alive, and if necessary I will get some paid work at veterinary clinics along the way.

Don't be afraid to follow your dreams...

Don't be afraid to follow your dreams...

I have also found the 'if you scratch my back I will scratch yours' system is working well so far! We get so much in return for the work we do for animals, which also helps keep us going for longer.


If you have any questions please let me know in the comments.

Help us help animals by liking us on Facebook or Instagram and Subscribing on YouTube.

Lots of Love, Stay Chuffed!

Dr Sheddy

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