Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Can I make a living from sailing?

That’s a question many of us may have asked when the office walls start to close in on us.

And while some young sailors manage life on small yachts with almost no amenities aboard – there is a better way to do it.

Paul and Sheryl are still living their dream
Canadian couple, Paul and Sheryl Shard, set sail from Lake Ontario with a dream of sailing south when they were in their early 30's. That was nearly 30 years ago, and since then, they have visited five continents, crossed the ocean seven times and clocked 100,000 miles under the keel.

As independent TV producers, the couple is responsible for their very own successful production called "Distant Shores" from which they derive their income. The TV show has been translated into 28 languages and have been seen by millions around the world.

Paul and Sheryl have spent more than $100,000 on camera gear and editing equipment. The series is professionally scripted and filmed specifically for television.

Making use of modern technology
Modern technology has, however, opened new possibilities. A GoPro camera allows you to shoot above or under water, while drones enable you to shoot amazing aerial shots. Every island or marina has an internet connection of some sorts that will allow you to upload your videos to YouTube. And so your adventures begin!

Such is the story of Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu of La Vagabonde.

Realising his dream
Riley worked offshore on oil rigs and in the mines of Western Australia, saving every possible dollar to buy a half-decent yacht. When Riley discovered that yachts are half the price in Europe compared to Australia, he travelled to Italy in 2003 and bought La Vagabonde, a 2007 Beneteau Cyclades for roughly €73,000 – an absolute bargain.

Air tickets and the yacht survey set him back another $4,700 while some improvements to the yacht came at a cost of €15,000. His insurance cost was 3,000 AUD a year. When Riley picked up the yacht in Italy, he had only about ten hours of sailing behind his name.

Image courtesy of @robinchristolphotography

Meeting Elayna
Riley sailed to Greece when he met Elayna, who was working as a musician for a travel company. The couple fell in love and Elayna agreed to join him on his journey around the world. Elayna found Riley's unused video camera on the yacht and starting filming their adventures. When she wanted to post these videos onto YouTube for her friends and family, Riley was sceptical. After much convincing, he obliged. A friend then advised them to use Patreon, a crowd-funding site. Currently they have over 1,331 patrons on Patreon who donate from $5-$200 per episode with a current total for all their patrons at $8,917 per episode. They have uploaded 112 videos since October, 2014 (about four episodes every month) generating a substantial income.

Image courtesy of @robinchristolphotography

With the help of Patreon
Thanks to Patreon they have been able to continue their journey around the world, documenting their voyage and calling sailing their full-time jobs. This enabled them to buy new filming equipment, do repairs to their yacht and put food on the table. But most importantly, they have been able to remain independent, declining large companies and sponsorship deals whom they did not feel comfortable to represent. Says Riley: "Now this adventure and the entire project surrounding it are completely funded by the income we get from producing the sailing videos. Some of this comes from YouTube advertising, but most of it comes from pledges and donations. Straight from the people that enjoy watching the videos. Because of the support and love we’ve received, we are now able to fund our sailing and travels 100% and continue releasing our videos for free!"

Image courtesy of @robinchristolphotography

The attractive couple are both very spontaneous, fun-loving and interesting people who share both their good times and bad times with their audience. From tears after their dinner slid off the table on the floor or the pot full of spaghetti that tipped off the stove during rough weather – to joyous moments when they have crossed the Atlantic.

They are honest and frank and will admit when they messed up or don't know something. After watching their series you will soon realize that live on a yacht is not only moonshine and roses. That is why this story is such a success.

Brand-new Outnemer catamaran
The couple recently saw an Outnemer catamaran when they arrived in Venezuela and was extremely impressed. The owner of this yacht was working for the Outnemer company and he was also a keen follower of the La Vagabonde episodes on YouTube. He gave Riley the email address of the CEO of the Outnemer company and after much negotiation, Outnemer agreed to provide a new catamaran at a reduced price and take out a loan on La Vagabond's behalf which Riley and Elayna will pay back from the monies they receive from Patreon. Outnemer will obviously get much media publicity with this venture.

The couple have travelled over 31,000 nautical miles together now and have more than 270,000 subscribers with over 30 million views on YouTube. They have just received their $1 million OUTREMER 45 catamaran on the 4th of March 2017 with much media publicity in La Grande Motte, in the south of France.

About Outnemer Catamarans
The Outremer catamaran is a high-performance multihull cruiser, renowned for their seaworthiness and speed. More than 280 vessels have been built by the specialists yard in La Grande Motte, in the South of France and Outremer catamarans have won most Transatlantic and long distance races, which they have entered. The Outremer 45 catamaran’s twin, high aspect ratio daggerboards will outperform a racing monohull to windward. Her twin skegs placed just ahead of the saildrives and rudders, will protect them from impacts and also allow for safe beaching. The coachroof, which is shared by her larger sisters, sleek hulls and beautifully arched crossbeams remain the visual trademarks of Outremer catamarans. Amongst his many transatlantic voyages, Aeroyacht’s founder Gregor Tarjan not only owned an Outremer catamaran but has also sailed 3 Outremer catamarans transatlantic.

The most popular YouTube sailing channels
We have listed the most popular YouTube sailing channels (16) below with the number of the subscribers, views, videos and date of joining YouTube. Interesting enough the majority started in 2015.

Sailing La Vagabonde
YouTube  (Oct 2014) | Web | Patreon

282,440 subscribers • 33,914,143 views • 109 videos
An Australian couple, Riley and Elayna onboard La Vagabonde, a 2007 Beneteau Cyclades.

Sailing SV Delos
YouTube (May 2007) | Web | Patreon

166,971 subscribers • 45,803,418 views • 165 videos
Brian (USA), Brady (USA) and Karin (Sweden) onboard Delos, a 53 foot Amel Super Maramu built in 2000.

Gone with the Wynns
YouTube (Sep 2010) | Web | Patreon

119,076 subscribers • 18,967,197 views • 306 videos
Jason and Nikki Wynn (USA) onboard Curiosity, a 2005 Robertson and Caine Leopard 43 Catamaran.

Rick Moore
YouTube (Jul 2007) | Web | Patreon

61,199 subscribers • 36,622,222 views • 436 videos
Rick Moore (Canada) is a sailing video producer and lives on board of “Sophisticated Lady”, a 50ft Jeanneau.

YouTube (Jun 2013) | Web | Patreon

41,558 subscribers • 6,450,834 views • 131 videos
A single handed German sailor girl named Nike, onboard a Reinke Super 10 1992 bought in Panama.

Chase the Story Sailing
YouTube (Sep 2015) | Web | Patreon

34,415 subscribers • 3,356,943 views • 50 videos
Ryan and Tasha onboard Cheeky Monkey (Fountaine-Pajot Helia catamaran 44 2015) sailing since 2015.

Sailing Uma
YouTube (Feb 2015) | Web | Patreon

28,003 subscribers • 2,171,124 views • 67 videos
Dan (Canada) and Kika (Haiti) onboard Uma, a 1972 Pearson 36’.

Monday Never
YouTube (October 2014) | Web | Patreon

27,571 subscribers • 2,066,966 views • 37 videos
Will and Cat met in 2011 in the BVIs. Will was a Yacht Week skipper whilst Cat had never sailed before. The saved all their money and bought Paradox (36' Merlin CS 1989) in October 2015 and began to travel.

RAN Sailing
YouTube (October 2014) | Web | Patreon

25,233 subscribers • 1,484,345 views • 41 videos
Malin and Johan, a Swedish couple started in January 2016 onboard a Beason 40, a 1987 custom built boat.

Distant Shores TV
YouTube (Jul 2009) | Web | Patreon

20,017 subscribers • 1,770,034 views • 112 videos
Paul and Sheryl Shard, a Canadian couple who set sail and lived onboard Distant Shores since 1989.

Sailing Nandji - Frothlyfe
YouTube (Jan 2015) | Web | Patreon

18,426 subscribers • 1,446,890 views • 24 videos
Yoshi and Bonita onboard Nandji (Roberts 40 sloop cutter) sailing since 2015.

YouTube (Jul 2006) | Web | Patreon

16,897 subscribers • 3,054,802 views • 219 videos
The adventures of Liz and Jamie onboard Esper, an Oyster 435 built in 1989 currently undergoing a major refit.

Sailing Trio Travels
YouTube (Jun 2010) | Web | Patreon

13,995 subscribers • 2,645,998 views • 102 videos
A Canadian family consisting of Brad and Krista with their 11 year old son named Cole onboard a Fountaine Pajot Venezia 42 Catamaran.

Adventure Adrift
YouTube (October 2014) | Web | Patreon

13,389 subscribers • 910,756 views • 51 videos
Hillary (USA) and Ty (Australia) onboard Varuna, a 1982 Pearson 367.

Sea Change
YouTube (Jun 2016) | Web | Patreon

11,831 subscribers • 458,638 views • 8 videos
In December, 2015 three men and a little dog set out on a round-the-world trip on 44 foot sailboat Cool Change.

Book a private bareboat yacht charter with an optional skipper to experience the thrill of sailing for a week or more.

The author endeavoured to provide the user with correct and accurate information at the time of this writing (March 2017). However, despite these efforts, errors might still occur and the author cannot be held responsible for any errors or damages caused.