Crowdfunding a Sailing Adventure
Earning Money While Sailing
If you've ever thought the ideal life might be to get a sailboat and see the world, but your idea was quashed because you couldn't fund it, things have changed. In the past, adventure seekers took odd jobs to fund their travels, or wrote books about their journeys. But now, paying for life as a liveaboard is different as the thirst for reality programs has given sailors an outlet to show a glimpse of life aboard a sailing vessel and earn some cash at the same time.
The people I am highlighting today have lots in common. They were fed up with life ashore and knew there must be more than getting up and going to work every day for the next 40 years so they could enjoy life after they retired. They wanted to experience life now!
I am showing just four of these sailing entrepreneurs but there are many more who are getting paid to sail and share real-life moments with their followers. Through the Patreon crowdfunding site, the number of sailors who are seeing the world and recording it with videos is increasing almost daily. Their ages and backgrounds are a mixed bag, and some are doing better than others at marketing themselves. Let's take a look at who they are, their boats and a brief history of some of their adventures.
Name of Boat
Type and Size of Boat
Amount per Video on Patreon
(previously) Benetau 38; now an Outremer 45
38' Bruce Roberts Spray design (own build)
53' Amel Super Maramu
1972 Pearson 36’
1. Sailing Vessel La Vagabonde
This first couple, Riley and Elayna, got me hooked on watching sailing videos. They have outshone the rest of the pack by capturing the “what the hell, let's do it” attitude.
Theirs is a romance story that goes something like this. Australian boy breaks neck in a bodyboarding accident that catalyzes a total life change. He goes to the Mediterranean to buy a boat from three arguing Italians. With virtually no sailing experience, he hoists the sails and goes. Whilst enjoying a drink in a little Greek club, he is smitten by his soon-to-be first mate Elayna. Together they decide to sail the world in their Beneteau called La Vagabonde.
After posting a few videos of their travels on YouTube for family and friends, they soon developed a following. This grew and grew. They don't make themselves out to be experts, although with more than 30,000 nautical miles they have gained a wealth of experience. They show their mishaps as well as the victories with their quirky Australia humor.
Because of their internet popularity and their bubbly positive attitudes, they were offered a fantastic deal on an Outremer Catamaran worth a cool $1,000,000. They will be leasing it for two years and then it will be theirs. As part of the deal, they have to upload two videos a month, which is no problem for the couple as they normally post four per month.
They each bring something to the videos, Riley loves history and shares his discoveries of interesting historical facts from the places they visit. Elayna creates vegetarian meals which look incredible. If only there was smell-o-vision available. She, in the main, is responsible for the editing of the videos. Don't think it is all about sailing, it isn't. They take you on tours of the places they visit, go harpoon fishing, and even encounter pirates! This couple has turned into experts at marketing and I say, more power to them. Their other avenues of making money, besides being funded through the Patreon crowdfunding site, are:
- a cookbook
- Amazon affiliate
There are naysayers out there who say the couple have sold out and will lose their audience since they are now on a new catamaran instead of their monohull. Personally, I think this is sour grapes and there will always be people who want to knock those who are doing well. There are many armchair sailors who just don't have the chutzpah to go out and experience life like this young couple.
How Crowdfunding Works
There are various crowdfunding sites and you may have heard some of the names such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Patreon is also a crowdfunding site but is different because this offers continual support to the creators.
In relation to sailing videos, these people get paid per video. Contributors can cap the number of videos they are prepared to pay for. Let's say the people you like are cranking out videos every few days but you may only want to pay for two per month. That's doable; you just put a monthly cap on your donation.
For example, let's say you want to support the sailing vessel Emerald Steel. You choose how much you want to pay per video, and that money becomes an ongoing donation unless you stopped it. There is also an option to just make a one-time donation.
This must be the most well-read book on our bookshelf. Each time my husband reads it, he is convinced he too will sail around the world. The boat Joshua Slocum used was a Spray and this is the same design as The Emerald Steel mentioned below. The design is still used by yachtsmen today.
The story of the first man to sail around the world alone, without the benefit of today's modern electronics. He achieved what at the time was deemed impossible. My favourite part had to be his method for keeping natives off his yacht when he was anchored and sleeping. The use of thumb tacks scattered along the deck kept barefoot thieves in pain and off his ship. Those who did venture aboard would let out a cry of pain arousing Slocum who'd take action.
2. Sailing Vessel Emerald Steel
Another series of videos I love, but so different than the first one. This couple, Susie and Julius (Jules), has been sailing for 30 years on a budget on the Emerald Steel, a vessel which they built! The story of them building the yacht is fascinating as their determination and strong character kept them going when others said it couldn't be done.
With vintage video footage of a hurricane rescue in Hawaii and photographs from 30 years ago, they take you on a whirlwind tour of a different kind: a long relationship of working together and living life on their terms. With a dream of sailing the South Seas and a constant desire to learn, they have created a life for themselves. Their travels have taken them to New Zealand, across the South Seas, Hawaii, the States and Canada.
Julius escaped Czechoslovakia when he was 18 years old and after a stay in immigrant camps made his way to the US, successfully working in construction only to lose most of it in an economic collapse. After buying a restaurant from Susie's family, they worked together and became close. Now they have been married for 34 years living a life many people only dream about. They do live on a budget, and their videos are about adapting and finding ways how to economize and fund their life onboard. Their ingenuity is inspiring. The video quality and editing aren't as sharp and crisp as the others on this list but their story is heartwarming.
3. Sailing Vessel Delos
Delos follows three people—two brothers and a Swedish girlfriend—and an array of friends and family as they sail around the world. Sailing for seven years and covering 45,000 nautical miles, the Delos is one of the better subscribed and supported of the crowdfunded sailing sites.
They have been criticized for showing too much skin with some of the girls going topless. This will attract a different audience; but I say, if people don't like that, there are other sites which need funding and loads more sailing videos to choose from.
If you want to travel, don't buy a couch.
4. Sailing Vessel Uma
Kika is from Haiti and Dan is from Canada, and together they share their own special way of showing us around the places they visit and the tasks they do on board their ship called Uma. This couple met when they were attending a university where they both were studying to become architects. After graduation, they realized they didn't want to get caught in the treadmill of life, one where you have a job, buy a house and begin to fill it with stuff. They wanted to experience life. They met someone who gave them some good advice; he said, “If you want to travel, don't buy a couch.” They sold their possessions and bought a sailboat. They called her Uma.
These are just four examples of people who have decided to craft their lives differently than the norm. They are carving out their niches and supporting themselves in various ways through crowdfunding and other avenues.
For a slice of life aboard a sailboat, check out some of their videos. Most are free to watch on YouTube and if you like what you see, you can become a supporter.
The owners of Emerald Steel, mentioned above, created a video in response to this article.
What they said was that many people see sailing as freedom, however, when you're crowdfunding, you're still working. In order to be free, you have to live life on your own terms and not fall into the trap of thinking once you're afloat, life is good.
You are still in the rat race and on that treadmill if you are producing material, which is geared towards gaining funding and acquiring followers.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Mary Wickison