Sailing Beyond Horizons

Local Female Master Captain Redefining Maritime Adventure

By Donna Gable Hatch
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Sailing Nirvana Charters is more than just a business; it's a testament to the power of dreams and determination. With Shalia Roberts at the helm, Galveston's shores are witness to a new wave of empowered mariners - female mariners, ready to navigate the high seas with confidence and grace. 

 Roberts, the visionary entrepreneur behind Sailing Nirvana Charters is the only female-captained charter company in the region. With a passion for sailing instilled in her since childhood, Roberts’ journey to becoming Master Captain Shea and the founder of Sailing Nirvana Charters is as inspiring as the voyages she offers. 

 “Growing up in Houston, weekends by the beach meant watching boats glide effortlessly across the warm Gulf waters. I'd daydream about the freedom they embodied, and I vowed to inspire other girls to experience that same exhilaration,” Roberts said. 

 During her formative years, she predominantly sailed with fellow girls, mastering the intricacies of sailing within the Girl Scouts. 

 It wasn't until she reached adulthood that she fully immersed herself in the sailing community, alongside men through her volunteer efforts with Sailing Angels. This is an altruistic organization in the Greater Houston area dedicated to introducing children facing physical and developmental challenges to the delights of sailing. 

 However, it was Hurricane Harvey that marked a significant turning point in her life. 

Placeholder image “That was my blessing in disguise. My home was flooded beyond repair, and my daughter and I were essentially homeless. We had two homes flood due to hurricanes before this one. Having to rebuild your life over and over again as a single parent raising your daughter without much help, was hard,” she said. 

 “I had been waiting for her to graduate and go off to college before I bought a boat, but I asked Alexa if she would be willing to try living aboard. I promised if she hated it, we would get another home, but it would allow us the funds to travel. She said, ‘Okay Mom, let's be pirates.’ My heart had never felt fuller of joy than that moment.” 

 Their new home was a Morgan Out Island 33 sailboat, one of the famed Morgan model lines of sailing yachts designed and built by Charles Morgan. Morgan was an icon in the world of sailing and died on January 6, 2023, at the age of 93. 

 The model maintains its appeal among sailors seeking a blend of comfort, safety, and stability for cruising. Offering nearly seven feet of headroom, its spacious interior layout caters to those embarking on blue water voyages, coastal jaunts, or island explorations. 

 With a user-friendly sloop rig and a shallow draft, navigating is made effortless, complemented by a reliable 50 HP Perkins diesel engine. Above deck, ample space provides freedom of movement, while below, the vessel boasts excellent living and storage quarters, comfortably accommodating up to six guests for overnight stays. 

 Living aboard Nirvana became a transformative experience for both mother and daughter. "I taught her how to drive a boat before a car," she said, adding the duo lived aboard the boat for her entire junior high and high school years. 

 “It was challenging, but we were a team and laughed through the difficulties. I think we're closer as mother and daughter for having lived aboard together.” 

 With Sailing Nirvana Charters, Roberts aims to breathe new life into the boating community of the Texas Gulf Coast, offering a divine feminine spin on chartering with a focus on playfulness. "When we play together, we create the best memories.” 

 The offerings at Sailing Nirvana Charters extend beyond traditional sailing excursions. From pirate and mermaid photo shoots to bachelorette parties and boat yoga retreats (aptly named BOGA), Roberts ensures there's something for everyone. 

 But beyond the recreational aspect, Roberts’ mission is clear: to grow the female population of mariners in Galveston and cater to boating experiences for women and children alike. 

 "As women, we bring life into the world," she said. "I want to bring that same vitality to the seas." 

 For more information about Sailing Nirvana Charters, contact Shalia Roberts (aka Master Captain Shea) at 832.774.8438 or email her at