Sailing SV Delos is what many people dream of – sailing around the world to exotic destinations in a beautiful boat with a super fun group of people, who all happen to be friendly and gorgeous. They go on amazing adventures, and they even brew moonshine on their boat. What more could you ask for?
In my Extraordinary Series here on Making Sense of Cents, I like to feature people who are doing things a little differently. So, I knew that interviewing SV Delos should be next!
As you may know, me and my husband (and our two dogs) also live on a sailboat. So, getting the opportunity to interview SV Delos was something I was really excited about doing!
Before our interview, let me give you a little backstory on the sailing vessel Delos and the crew.
It all started in May of 2008 when Brian Trautman bought SV Delos.
Brian had been sailing around the lakes of Seattle for several years, but had never really thought about living on a sailboat, much less sailing around the world. Until one day when he found a book in the library that explained how to cross the ocean on your own boat. It was an eye-opening moment for Brian.
He spent the next four years dreaming and planning for the first epic trip – sailing to New Zealand. He sold nearly everything, and bought SV Delos in May of 2008.
It took around a year after Brian and his crew set sail from Seattle to reach New Zealand.
Funny story, a few months after reaching New Zealand, SV Delos sailed to Australia where Brian and the crew realized they had completely run out of money. So, they parked SV Delos for a year in order to work and save up money.
Eventually, another sailor gave them the idea to start a Youtube channel (they bought a camcorder for $200 in order to start), and it all exploded from there. They now have a HUGE dedicated following and earn a great living through their platform.
SV Delos is now home to Brian’s wife Karin, his brother Brady, and Brady's girlfriend Alex. They’ve had a number of additional crew members join them over the years, and they have since sailed SV Delos to 45+ countries and 70,000+ ocean miles.
And, Brian and Karin recently welcomed their newest crew member aboard SV Delos – their new baby!
If you are at all interested in the sailing life, then you have probably heard of SV Delos. And, if you're not wanting to sail anytime soon, their videos on the SV Delos Youtube channel are definitely the best, and still extremely fun to watch!
The sailing world has some of the best Youtube channels, and one of my favorite to watch is SV Delos.
Here are some of my favorite videos they’ve taken while sailing SV Delos:
- Equator Crossing Ceremony
- Sailing the Roaring 40s in 30 foot Waves!
- Provisioning a Sailboat for 6 Months
- Welcome to BRAZIL!!!! We Crossed the ATLANTIC!!!!
I recently had the opportunity to interview Brian Trautman of SV Delos. I asked him questions about:
- His sailboat
- How the SV Delos Youtube channel makes money
- About the SV Delos Patreon account
- How many hours he puts towards this successful business
- Whether or not he's saving for retirement
- How long he sees himself sailing on SV Delos
- How things will change with a new baby aboard
- And more!
Can you tell us about your sailboat?
She is an Amel Super Maramu 53.
She is ketch rigged (two masts). She has three cabins, two heads (toilets/showers), a nice galley (kitchen) with a dishwasher, fridge, freezer, and even washing machine.
She has everything you would expect in a house, only much smaller and able to sail on the ocean. We make our own electricity with solar and wind power and have an onboard desalination plant to make our own drinking water.
We even brew our own moonshine onboard with a still 🙂
Delos can carry enough food and supplies to last six adults for six months if we choose!
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Is it difficult to find internet when sailing to new places?
It used to be in the first few years of the trip.
However, now with the proliferation of mobile data, we find ourselves able to have internet in most ports.
It’s just a matter of buying a local SIM card.
We also use the Google Fi plan, which is very reasonably priced and allows us to roam with phone and mobile internet countries in about 220 countries worldwide.
- I Live in a 175 Square Foot Tiny Home – Sailboat Living
- We're Moving Onto A Sailboat!
- How This Couple Does Van Life with A Baby (and a dog!)
How many hours a week is put towards work, creating videos, and managing your business?
Our project is quite time intensive.
The short answer – it’s a full-time project for the four of us and we employ another four people to help us with the editing, social media, and products.
The long answer – it can take 40-60 hours for us to edit one of our episodes together.
We do take a lot of pride in our production value and always try to tell a good story with solid editing.
It would be impossible to keep up this workload given we try to release four videos per month, if only one person worked on the project.
Our core team is four people (myself, Karin, Brady, and Alex). Sailing and making the videos are a full time job for each of us.
In addition, we employ two people to assist answering social media comments, messages, and emails. We have one person to assist with the fulfillment of our products from svdelos.com/shop, and two more people to help with the editing (Kiril in Vietnam and Lisa in Austria). Both Lisa and Kiril sailed with us for extended periods of time on Delos, so we can trust them to portray the vibe we want in our videos.
Our team is currently spread across four continents and in many countries (Sweden, Canary Islands in Spain, Florida USA, Austria, and Vietnam).
We work using FB messenger, Dropbox, and Skype. Imagine eight people spread out across four continents all working together enabled by technology!
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Can you tell me more about how SV Delos Patreon income works?
It’s similar to Kickstarter with the concept being crowdfunded, however it differs in that where Kickstarter is geared towards one-time projects or product launches, Patreon is geared towards recurring projects.
It (Patreon) appeals to artists and creators that produce multiple pieces over the course of the year.
For example, people contribute a few dollars each time we make a video.
We typically release four videos per month (once a week) and the people that contribute can decide to support one, two, three, or four videos per month.
Are you able to save for retirement?
Yes, in fact we have established our project as an LLC in the U.S., and as such we have created a 401K under the name of our LLC that we can contribute to.
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How much does sailing cost you?
[This is taken from their FAQs on their website because they gave such an in depth answer.]
How long do you see yourself sailing and Youtubing?
We’ve always said we’ll continue to sail until we run out of money, or it stops being fun.
It took four years of solid work, but now the project is self-sustainable based on the income from the videos, product sales, and crowdfunding.
So now the question will be can we continue to keep it new, fresh, and at the same time fun for ourselves.
When you turn a hobby into a business, I think there is always the possibility of taking the joy out of it and creating another job.
We are very conscientious of maintaining a good work-life balance, and since it is a lifestyle business we tend to value our time and fun over making money.
So really, no plans to stop at this point, but time will tell!
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How do you think things will change with a baby on board?
It will change things for sure, and to say that it won’t would be very naive.
In the short-term, we will sail shorter distances and probably stick around places that we know very well.
We plan to take a few months cruising in the Caribbean where we know there is access to services, medical care if needed, and where the lifestyle will be a little more predictable.
After a few months of this, we’ll go with our gut instinct and perhaps sail to some more isolated places.
We plan to show the reality of sailing with a newborn and the misadventures that it brings.
On one hand, it’s a little scary because it’s an alternate lifestyle to have with a small baby. On the other hand, Karin and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to spend 24/7 together raising a child in such a fantastic environment.
How do you handle health insurance and health care?
For the most part, we are self-insured.
We keep $20,000 set aside in an emergency fund.
We’ve found health care to be good and extremely affordable in most places in the world.
Karin is a Swedish citizen, so health care for her is very reasonable and insurance rates follow this.
For myself, Brady, and Alex, since we are American citizens, it’s much more expensive. In the past we have purchased high-deductible plans that only cover major catastrophes (cancer, brain tumor, major injury) etc.
These are often much more reasonably priced than a full-coverage plan.
We use our “emergency fund” to bridge the gap of the high-deductible should an emergency medical conditions come up.
What's one place that you haven't visited yet that you're excited about seeing one day?
I would love to sail to Japan!
We were so close a few years ago but ran out of money and decided to sail south to Malaysia instead.
If you are low on funds and about to run out of money, better to do it in Malaysia where the cost of living is much cheaper (especially on a boat) than Japan.
We’ve often joked that we are sailing to Japan by the longest route imagined, by circling the globe and coming back.
What top pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to do something similar?
If you ever find yourself on the cusp of making a decision and have two options, one will probably make your stomach feel like there is a lump in it.
I describe it as a feeling of anxiousness and uncertainty coupled with the feeling of going over the hump on a rollercoaster right before you free fall.
I’ve found that usually the decisions that give you this level of uncomfort and angst are the ones that are really worth it 🙂
Are you interested in the sailing life? Hope you enjoyed this interview with SV Delos!
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