Life on the SV Devlos sailboat looks like a dream. A company of cheerful young people travels to exotic countries, experiences exciting adventures, maintains their blog, and even brews moonshine on their yacht.
How did they come to this life? In that dealt with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, the author of a blog about money and travel. She asked SV Devlos Captain Brian the most burning questions about nomadic life at sea: how much does it cost, how are medical care, how do they earn, and can they secure a pension?
It all started in May 2008 when Brian Troutman bought SV Devlos. At first, he just walked on the lakes of Seattle and did not even think about living on a yacht and traveling around the world until he came across a book in the library on how to cross the ocean. This moment became a turning point in his life.
The next four years were spent in dreams and preparation for the first grandiose transition - Brian did not waste time on trifles and swung straight at New Zealand! He sold almost everything, put together a team of his wife Karin and brother Brady with his girlfriend Alex, and they set off from Seattle to New Zealand.
Upon reaching the first goal, the SV Devlos team went to Australia, but then the guys suddenly ran out of money. They had to anchor on the southern continent for a year in order to earn money, and then a familiar sailor threw up an idea - why not start your Youtube channel? And this idea fired!
The guys filmed their first videos on camera for 200 bucks. They now have half a million subscribers on Youtube, have covered over 70,000 nautical miles and visited over 45 countries. And this year they were joined by a new crew member - Brian and Karin had a baby!
Tell us about SV Devlos.
We are traveling in Amel Super Maramu 53 keche. We have three cabins, a couple of bathrooms; good galley with dishwasher, fridge, freezer, even a washing machine. We have everything, just like in an ordinary house, only more compact, and can swim in the ocean))
There is a desalination plant at SV Devlos, the sun and wind generate electricity for us. We even use a distiller to brew moonshine on board! If necessary, our yacht will pull a supply of food and household supplies for six adults for six months.
Is it difficult to find the internet when visiting new places?
This was the problem for the first few years of the trip. But now, with the proliferation of mobile communications, you can connect to any port - you just need to buy a local SIM card. We also installed the Google Fi app on our phones. For a reasonable price, you can use the mobile Internet in 220 countries around the world.
How many hours per week do you spend working, making videos, running your business?
Quite a bit of. In short: our entire team is fully engaged in our project, and four more people help with editing, social networks and goods. In more detail, it takes us 40-60 hours to process one episode.
We pride ourselves on our quality and always take our editing seriously to make a good story. If only one person was involved in the project and with a load of four videos a month, we would not have pulled it. The core team consists of me, Karin, Brady and Alex. Sailing and filming videos is a full-fledged job for us. In addition, a couple of people help respond to messages, emails and comments on social media.
There is also a person who helps with goods from our store, and two more are editing - Kiril from Vietnam and Lisa from Austria. Liza and Kiril went with us to Delos for some time, so we are fully confident that they can convey the desired atmosphere in the videos.
The Trautman brothers - before and after SV Delos came into their lives
Our team is now working on four continents in many countries (Sweden, Austria, Vietnam, Canary Islands in Spain, Florida in the USA). We work through FB messenger, Dropbox and Skype. Just imagine: eight people are scattered across four continents, and everyone is able to interact thanks to technology!
Can you tell us more about how you get income with SV Delos Patreon?
It is similar to Kickstarter with a crowdfunding concept. Only Kickstarter is focused on one-time projects or product launches, while Patreon is focused on recurring projects. It is addressed to creators and craftsmen who release several of their works during the year.
For example, people contribute a few dollars every time we make a video. We usually have four episodes per month (one per week) and the person can decide how many videos they want to support.
Can you save for retirement?
Oh sure. We registered our project as an LLC in the USA. And we opened 401K (retirement savings plan), where we save money.
How much do you spend on sailing travel? (Answer taken from the FAQ on the team's website)
Calculating costs is one of the most difficult questions. Because the answer depends on many factors: for example, what kind of life you lead (beer or champagne), or whether you can independently perform any repair work on the yacht. The numbers below are a more or less accurate assessment of the life we lead on SV Delos.
On average, about 500 $ comes out per month. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the part of the world where we are - for example, in cheap SEA or expensive Australia. This includes food, delicious drinks (including supplies on board), general tolls and travel expenses, yacht fuel and all that stuff.
Maintenance of the boat is not included here, because this cost item is highly dependent on its size, age and type. But you may well add your opinion about “human” expenses, taking into account the fact that we eat local products, try to buy them in bulk and usually eat on board.
Within 1.5-2 % of the yacht price, it depends on the region where you travel. It covers basic medical care for the crew, as well as hull, weapons and equipment. For remote locations, the rate is usually higher, for example, the Indian Ocean cost us more than the Caribbean.
Repair and maintenance costs vary greatly depending on the size of the yacht and the complexity of the systems. We have developed several rules for ourselves in recent years, and they work well with SV Delos.
I like to divide the cost of yacht maintenance in two. We allocate 1.5 % for general maintenance and preventive maintenance. For example, if your cruiser costs 100,000 $, then expect 1,500 $ per year for things like oil changes, sail repairs, pumps, impellers, and other mundane things that can wear out over the course of your trip.
Delos is a rather complex yacht with many systems, which means that they all need to be cared for. Moreover, we do all the work on 100 % ourselves. That is, you only have to pay for details and expert opinion. If you do not plan to repair the yacht yourself, I think that the amount of maintenance will not grow much from this.
The second part of the cost is long-term costs. For example, replacing standing rigging, new sails, a new engine for dinghy, painting the bottom, etc. Such things do not happen often, but they cost a pretty penny. When we first started cruising, it cost 1.5 %, but now the yacht is older, has run a lot of miles and now the similar costs are somewhere in the 3 % range.
How long are you going to travel and shoot for?
We have always said that we will travel until the money runs out or until we get bored. Four years of painstaking work have passed, and now the project is paying off through profit from video, product sales and crowdfunding. So the question is whether we can keep it fresh, fresh and enjoyable. I think when you turn a hobby into a business, there is always an opportunity to enjoy it and create a new profession.
We strive to maintain a balance between work and personal life. And since this is a lifestyle business, we value our time and joy of life more than making money. So, in fact, we are not planning to stop, but time will tell.
What do you think will change with the arrival of the baby on board?
It would be naive to believe that nothing will change. In the short term, we will be making shorter treks and possibly only stopping at well-known places. For several months we are planning to walk around the Caribbean, where you can certainly get medical assistance if necessary, and the way of life is a little more predictable.
Trautman Junior has grown up and is already mastering the helm!
And then we will trust instinct. Perhaps we will go to more distant places. We want to show the reality of yachting with a newborn and the problems associated with it. On the one hand, it's a little scary, because with the appearance of a child, a completely different life begins. On the other hand, Karin and I are proud to have such an honor - to spend time together 24/7 and raising a child in such a fantastic environment!
How are you doing with health care and insurance?
Of course we are insured. We store 20,000 $ in the emergency fund. By the way, it turned out that in most places in the world there is quality and affordable medical care.
Karin has Swedish citizenship, so her medical care is quite inexpensive with reasonable insurance rates. For me, Brady and Alex, as American citizens, it costs much more. In the past, we have bought high rate insurance that only covers serious problems (cancer, brain tumor, major injuries, etc.). They often have more reasonable rates than full coverage insurance.
And if there is a shortage of insurance in a medical emergency, then we cover it from our “emergency fund”.
Where have you not been, but would very much like to?
I would love to visit Japan! We were so close a few years ago, but we ran out of money and we turned south to Malaysia. If you are strained with finances, then it is easier to wait it out where life is cheaper, especially on a yacht.
We often joked that we were going to Japan by the longest route across the globe.
What advice would you give to those guys who are going to follow a similar path?
One day, you're on the verge of making a decision, and you have two options - one of which is likely to make your stomach shrink into a ball. Feeling like on top of a roller coaster: the same uncertainty and anxiety before heading off to free fall. And such decisions, taken at the limit, usually turn out to be the most rewarding in life.
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