Catching up with Brian Trautman from globe-girdling, YouTube-savvy SV Delos

Man buys a boat, learns to sail, falls in love with sailing, takes off in said boat to sail the world, and while doing so the world and its inhabitants become his home and family. It’s a somewhat familiar story, but one that doesn’t always play out for the many who harbor the same vision.

There are those who talk about buying a boat and setting off to sail around the world, and then there are people like Brian Trautman, who actually do it. Aboard his 53-foot Amel Super Maramu, Delos (take a tour here), Trautman is one of the refreshingly few who got off the dock, figured out a way to keep going and lets his passion for the cruising lifestyle do the talking. And in his particular case, the lifestyle is captured on film and neatly packaged to serve and inspire the dreamers who have yet to buy a boat or toil in marinas working on them.

The crew of Delos, Brady, Karin and Brian, inspire sailors new and old with their fun videos and great writing. (Photo courtesy of SVDelos.com.)

The crew of Delos, Brady, Karin and Brian, inspire sailors new and old with their fun videos and great writing. (Photo courtesy of SVDelos.com.)

Since leaving Seattle, Brian, along with his girlfriend Karin (who joined Delos in New Zealand) and brother Brady (who joined in Mexico), have sailed thousands of miles aboard Delos and along the way have gathered quite an international following via their popular blog and YouTube channel, where they post episodes based on their adventures.

For those who aren’t familiar with Delos and Brian’s sailing backstory — which began right here in the Pacific Northwest — I caught up with him for an interview to bring you just that. Brian and I share several sailing friends and after we chatted about life and how things were going, I got him talking about how he started sailing in Seattle, bought Delos and sailed off to chase the dream.

Andy Cross: What brought you to sailing in the Pacific Northwest?

Brian Trautman: After graduating from the University of Washington I was living in Kirkland on Lake Washington and worked for a software company. My brother came to visit me, saw where I was living and said, “You live on a lake, how do you not own a boat?!”

He was right and on somewhat of a whim, I found a Catalina 22 for sale nearby, bought it and started learning to sail.

AC: That’s awesome, how long did you own the boat?

BT: I owned that boat for 5 or 6 six years and took it all over the place. I sailed out to Blake Island and to Poulsbo — such cool places. But it was like camping. It ended up being a great boat to learn on and at some point I really started to enjoy sailing and cruising.

From there I wanted to go farther and I bought a Catalina 36. I cruised that boat up to the San Juan Islands and Gulf Islands, but again, I just wanted to go farther.

AC: Is that what sparked the dream of wanting to cruise far and wide?

BT: Kind of, yeah. When I realized that I wanted to cruise and sail on the ocean I started looking for boats for two and a half years and got addicted to blue water boats, reading books about them and following cruising blogs. I went to the Annapolis boat show and was constantly looking for boats around the Northwest. Thats when I met Brad Baker at Swiftsure Yachts and went for a ride on an Outbound 46 from Shilshole and really liked it. I loved that boat and just talking about sailing with Brad.

He then got me into racing onboard the boat Voodoo Child, which was an awesome experience. Racing was when I really learned sailing and I realized that I could actually go out and do it on the ocean on my own.

AC: Is that how you found Delos, through Brad?

BT: No, I found Delos, which is her original name, up in Bellingham and fell in love with her. I was so attached to Delos and wanted her so bad, but I didn’t think I could do it. I owned a house, and didn’t think I could make it work. But Brad knew his stuff and worked with me on making an offer — without him I wouldn’t have gotten the boat, especially for the price I did. I owe him a lot.

AC: Then you lived at Shilshole, right? 

BT: Yeah, I lived at Shilshole for over a year. Starting in May 2008 and then I left in August 2009.

AC: What advice do you have for Pacific Northwest cruisers who are thinking about or are getting ready to make the big left turn?

BT: Your boat will never be 100-percent ready. At some point you have to just leave. I see people sitting at the dock trying to do more and more projects all the time; trying to make their boat perfect. And at some point they never leave. They just talk about it. There are all these things you want to do to your boat, but you need to just go sailing.

I’ve known quite a few people where having the dream and preparing for the dream might actually be the dream. In the end it doesn’t matter.

AC: You probably get this a lot, but what are a couple quick highlights of yours since leaving Seattle?

BT: We’ve spent a lot of time in Madagascar recently and it is a crazy place. We love it. It’s very real and not very populated. The people are cool, but the place itself is still kind of rough.

Making it to New Zealand was a big deal, too, as was seeing the Southern Cross for the first time. Looking up and watching the stars from the southern hemisphere really puts you in your place and reminds you constantly how far you’ve traveled.

The most wicked sailing by far was crossing the Indian Ocean. Gnarly systems roll through constantly and you have to be truly prepared. This year we’ve routinely had 50-knot blows.

Writing the blogs and then making all the videos has also been a highlight. We started with the blogs so friends and family could experience what we were doing, and then we thought it would be cool to do videos but we never had the right gear. When we moved to Australia, we decided to really get into the video making part of it. I guess we’re one of the first cruising boats to really start doing what we are doing, but it wasn’t planned at all, it was just organic.

Then the first time we made a dollar a day from the videos was really cool. We just kept on making them. And luckily that’s now the passion. It has added a whole new dimension to being out here. And we get to meet so many cool people along the way because of it.

The whole voyage has surprised me and changed me in so many ways. I don’t think I can ever go back.

AC: Where is Delos now?

BT: We left Delos in Durban, South Africa to come back to the States and see family. We’ll be back by the end of December.

AC: What’s next for you and the crew?

BT: We’re planning to make our way to Cape Town for the summer and then sail to Namibia. From there we’ll set out across the South Atlantic to St. Helena, Ascension, Brazil and then up to Trinidad and Tobago.

Editor’s Note: A big thank you goes out to Brian for taking time for this interview. Check out Delos‘ latest video below:

Here are some interesting stats from Delos after seven years of voyaging: 

  1. Delos has sailed 42,351 nautical miles. (The earth is 21,639 NM at the equator so that’s almost two times around already.)
  2. Visited 26 countries and four continents
  3. Crossed the equator three times
  4. Have had 43 crewmembers join since leaving Seattle
  5. Boarded/robbed three times (Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Madagascar.)
  6. Fully knocked down five times
  7. Highest SOG – 18.8 knots (Wild Coast, South Africa) 40 knots astern with 5 knots of current!
  8. Biggest 24 hour run – 254 miles (Wild Coast, South Africa)
  9. Highest wind at the dock – 72 knots (Richards Bay, South Africa)
  10. Highest wind at sea – 50+ (Southern Indian Ocean) Wind meter only goes up to 50 so really don’t know what it got up to but it was WINDY.
  11. Highest wind at Anchor- 64 knots (Barra de Navidad, Mexico)

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4 Responses to Catching up with Brian Trautman from globe-girdling, YouTube-savvy SV Delos

  1. Patrick
    Patrick December 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    I didn’t know they were knocked down 5 times. I’d love to hear more on that. I can’t imagine how scary that must be (in a big boat like Delos).

  2. Steve December 12, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Interesting when I read, “Boarded/robbed three times.” Robbery involves force or threat of force, but sometimes people falsely using it interchangeably with theft. Were you the victim of theft (aka, boarded when no one was there) or robbed (aka, at gunpoint, knifepoint, etc.)?

    • Patrick
      Patrick December 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

      @Steve, they were boarded and robbed while they were sleeping onboard. Not sure if that counts as theft or robbery, but it seems like a bit of a technical distinction. They discuss it in their video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMBbXnyLU8o

    • Brian Trautman December 27, 2016 at 7:25 am #

      Hey Steve, We were boarded on all three occasions and we were on Delos every time it happened. In none of the instances did they have guns, just knives and since we have a larger crew we were able to chase them off. We keep a number of large knives easily accessible by the companionway and other assorted deterrents ready when we’re in known troubled areas. In the last instance we actually were able to film the guy and showed it to people in the village. We were able to capture him with the help of the locals because of the footage and put him in jail. The locals were very helpful because they depend on the dollars from visiting yachts and didn’t want that to go away. Hope this answers your questions! Fair Winds- Brian

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