An Interview with Brian, Karin, Alex and Brady from Team Sailing with SV Delos

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Tell us a bit about yourself:

Hi, my name is Brian Trautman and I’m the captain of SV Delos, a 53-foot ocean-going sailing yacht. Together with my wife Karin, my younger brother Brady and his partner Alex aka Blue, we have created the YouTube channel SV Delos, and have been exploring our diverse planet using the power of the wind for over ten years. We haven’t always been salty sailors, I have a background in electrical engineering and software programming and was working sixty-hour weeks running my own software company. I gave it all up to buy a boat and sail away.

Brady studied environmental engineering, and has qualifications as a Divemaster, Dive Instructor and Rescue Diver; he joined the boat in 2010 for what was meant to be a three-week adventure, that was nine years ago.

Karin grew up in the Arctic Circle, in the northernmost part of Sweden. She joined SV Delos in New Zealand in 2011, after fate brought her to the Mexican restaurant where Brady was working at the time. What began as a weekend of sailing soon turned into a lifetime of exploration, and she quickly fell in love with Delos, the sustainable way of life, and the idea of breaking away from society’s expectations. After eight years aboard Delos, Karin has become a seasoned sailor, videographer and adventurer.

Alex Blue is the Californian babe of the Delos crew. An incredible photographer, videographer, and filmmaker, Alex has a rare gift for showing the world in all its technicolour glory. Joining Delos in 2017 for what was meant to be one ocean crossing, Alex has since become an accomplished sailor after crossing two oceans and travelling 15,000 nautical miles. The ocean is where her true passion for storytelling through photography and videography comes to life.

What’s your biggest achievement as a Creator?

SV Delos is the second largest sailing YouTube channel in the world. What started out as a bit of fun, has turned into a highly successful project, spanning 75,000 nautical miles and 45 countries over 11 years. We have managed to create a sustainable lifestyle where we are able to show people the beauty of the world. We’re completely crowd funded and not beholden to the pressures of advertisers or corporate sponsors. While this is amazing, our greatest achievement is knowing we have inspired others. We receive hundreds of emails every week telling us how we have inspired others to get out of their comfort zone and embark on their own adventure. Another achievement I am extremely proud of is being in a position to donate $50,000 to various charities in 2019.

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You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. Give me your itinerary.

Wouldn’t that be awesome? We travelled to Svalbard in 2018, which is about 600 miles from the North Pole, it was such a great adventure, I think we could be convinced to hop on a plane to Greenland. Cruising in the tropics is incredible, but there is something about that white snow and harsh remoteness of the arctic that is awe inspiring. We have read you can dive among whales and icebergs in the glow of the midnight sun, this sounds like something we would enjoy!

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How do you fund your travel?

SV Delos is one of the original YouTube sailing channels, we have uploaded over 200 episodes of our travels around the globe. People have really enjoyed the channel and we have amassed over 360,000 subscribers, so we make money through this. We joined Patreon in 2016, after realizing that people were enjoying the videos so much, they were happy to chip in a few dollars to help us upgrade our gear, increase the quality of the videos and continue the journey to remote places. Currently we have just over 2000 Patrons which helps to pay for the costs of running the boat, fuel, food, diving equipment, video and camera gear. We also sell merchandise like hats, t-shirts and hoodies, to help make money while cruising.

What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?

When I quit my job at Microsoft and started my own company (at the age of 26) I decided to take some time off because I knew starting my own business was going to consume all my time.  I had never traveled, and I really wanted to go overseas. I had also never taken more than a few days off work. I bought a ticket from Seattle to the UK. I spent a week exploring London, then flew to Ireland, rented a car and drove around the southern portion of Ireland for another week.  Then flew from Dublin to Italy and bought a rail pass. I spent the next month taking the train around Italy visiting Rome, Venice, Amalfi Coast, and Milan. It was my first time outside of the US, and it really opened my eyes to different people and cultures.

I remember one time after a few too many drinks in Cork County Ireland, almost getting into a fight in a bar with a group of drunk Irishmen. Fortunately, I had made friends with the Cork County Women’s basketball team. Suddenly the entire team of women stood up and told the drunk guys to leave me alone, or they would have to fight the entire girls’ basketball team! It was awesome.

Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?

We sailed from the Philippines to Borneo, we were flat broke when we arrived, and it was stinking hot.  Critical systems on the boat were broken and I didn’t have the parts, or the money, to fix them. The weather was terrible and the Abu Sayaf rebels in the area were kidnapping sailors for ransom. The Malaysian coast guard had a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ policy for any vessels moving between 6PM and 6AM.  Karin and I had a long discussion about why in the hell we were doing this. Sailing for pleasure should be fun right? Why were we there when we didn’t have to be? We felt trapped by so many things and decided to make a change. So we chained Delos up to a concrete wall next to a golf course, hired a local guy to keep an eye on her, and flew back to Sweden to regroup. It was during this very dark time that we considered throwing in the towel, but that time away brought clarity. In Sweden away from the repressive heat, and fear of kidnapping, we started being more productive with the videos, which ultimately led to us starting our crowdfunding and Patreon campaigns that revitalized our project.

under the sea

Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?

Cruising in remote locations often means you are in countries that are not first world. One thing you learn when you’re in these places is how lucky we are and how much we have. We don’t really call them bad experiences, just life experiences. Things like theft can happen to anyone in any country, we know this. We have had people come on our boat at night while we slept and steal things. Once, while anchored in Madagascar, a local swam out to our boat in the night and tried to steal our dinghy. We awoke to the sound of crashing and splashing in the water, we had the spotlight on the guy soon enough, and tried to grab him but he kept diving under the boat, eventually he swam away. It was the strangest thing, the next day we hitched a ride in a taxi bus and the guy was in the car! The police ended up tracking him down from the video we had taken of him in the water the night before, they sorted him out.


Where is your favorite place in the world?

Places, and experiences in places, are how we have found ourselves answering this question. Off the coast of Mexico there is a tiny uninhabited island, Isla San Benedicto. This is one of the only spots in the world known to have Giant Manta Rays interacting with humans. After a few days of diving in the area, one of them swam up to me very slowly and looked me right in the eye. The thrill of having a 5-meter-wide, 1,000KG wild animal come up and connect with you in that way is something truly extraordinary. The Manta stopped right in front of me and brushed up against my arm. I grabbed onto the top of its head, and it began to swim slowly, taking me on a gigantic underwater loop before stopping where we had started. Over the next few days, we continued our interactions with the Mantas, exploring just how sentient they were. We discovered that if we were snorkeling, they would go no deeper than 5 meters, but if we were scuba diving, they would go as deep as 30 meters. If I lost my grip, the Manta would actually stop and allow me to get a better hold. It was an unbelievable spot on our amazing planet, one I will never forget.

Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?

For the past 8 years we’ve sailed the world, dedicated to capturing and sharing the amazing beauty of this small marble we call home!  We’ve witnessed firsthand the elegance of nature at work, and also the impact humanity has had on our land and oceans. Our goal is to produce high quality, entertaining, and educational videos that help us understand the most exotic and fragile ecosystems on the planet.

To keep this going, our dream is to build Delos 2.0, an expeditionary style sailboat capable of traversing all corners of the globe. She will emphasize alternative energy sources, hybrid-electric drives, and be designed from the ground up to be the ultimate filming platform, both above and below the water. Hopefully, we can continue to share our experiences with the world and help to educate others about the impact we are having on the environment.


If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?

After being at sea, on anchor, and traveling for so many years, the option of seasonal cruising sounds pretty interesting.  There are so many amazing things about this lifestyle but sometimes you want a little bit of regularity and a home base of sorts.  We don’t know where or when it will be but eventually I think we’ll find a little “Delos Compound” somewhere where we can spend our time in the off season getting charged up for the next cruising adventure. We can never go back to the typical 9 to 5 work week behind a desk. Once you have experienced the cruising way of life it changes you, what seemed so important once doesn’t seem so anymore. Travelling, meeting new people and spreading the Delos love will always be a part of what we do.

What has travel taught you?

Wow, travel has been our lives for the past 10 years and we have learned so much. I think what I reflect on the most are that people are generally good. We have been welcomed into so many countries, cultures and homes with nothing expected in return except a smile. This can be hard to find in your day to day life. Travel has also taught me that we are capable of so much more than we realize, and that we need to dream big because we can achieve so much, and not just in a monetary way, in an experience way. I learned that having the high paying job, the house, the cars and the suits are great for some, but for me they left me feeling unfulfilled. The message that we try and give is that you don’t need the big boat, you just need a dream, and that doesn’t even have to be sailing, it just has to be something you love.

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Author sumit

Sumit Sharma is a full-time digital marketer who finds his passion in traveling and blogging about his experiences.

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