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SV Delos, or How You Can Live on a Boat for 13 Years and Make Money Off of It
The Trautmans are living the dream: they’re sailing around the world, docking at dreamy locations where they linger for as long as they want, they can go off-grid for months on end, and dread the very idea of setting foot on land for longer than it takes to do a supply run. Even better, it’s people at home who finance this dreamy lifestyle.

SV Delos, or How You Can Live on a Boat for 13 Years and Make Money Off of It

SV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ yearsSV Delos, the 53-foot sloop rig ketch that has been traveling the world for 13+ years
If there is a recipe for happiness, the Trautmans have it, and its main ingredient would be a sailing vessel with self-sufficient capabilities and low environmental footprint, an adventurous spirit, and the knowledge that whatever comes their way can be overcome as a team. The Trautmans and their SV Delos are an adventurer’s dream come true, and their story is nothing if not motivational.

Since 2020, we’ve covered dozens of rigs meant to inspire fellow adventurers to get a taste of the vanlife or experience the joys of downsizing. Objectively, few other downsizing stories are as amazing and all-out ballsy as that of Brian Trautman, former mouse-clicker (software engineer) in Seattle turned full-time seafarer and content creator. He is the owner and captain of SV Delos, the sailing rig he calls home for over 13 years now, and on which he’s lived full-time since, with only a handful of exceptions.

At the peak of his career in IT, Brian had it all, he often says in interviews: he made enough money to live comfortably, had his own home, a car, TVs in every room of the house, and some money in the bank. He wasn’t born in a seafaring family, either, so it’s not like he had saltwater coursing through his veins. Once he moved to Seattle, he got into boating but was far from experienced. None of that stopped him when he laid eyes on SV Delos, a 53-foot (16-meter) Amel Super Maramu sloop rig ketch, built in 2000 in La Rochelle, France.

In 2008, Brian made the decision that would change his life, as cliché as that might sound. He bought the boat for a reported $375,000 and, one year later, sailed off on it for what he assumed would be an 18-month journey from Seattle to New Zealand. He sold everything he had but held onto his job for a while longer, and he continued to work onboard. Two years later, he arrived in New Zealand and met the woman who would become his (second) wife, a Swedish woman studying architecture in Australia.

Brian, Karin and their daughter Sierra have been living onboard SV Delos since right after Karin graduated, with the only “break” on land when Sierra was born. At first, they traveled with an ever-rotating crew, many of whom they found online or picked up along the way on their travels. This helped make traveling easier, because they would share everything from mess duties to fuel and food costs.

Right now, the Trautmans travel alone as a family, because they no longer need to work in ports to save money to continue sailing, or split the costs. They are officially the king of the seas on YouTube, and rely mostly on monetization on the platform and crowdfunding for revenue. Estimates say they pull some $17,000 per video, and they can upload as many as four of them in a month. As Brian says in the 2020 interview below, maintenance and running costs on the boat are about $2,500 a month for the three of them.

So, how did they do it? With guts, of course. Guts not just to sell off everything and dive into the unknown, but to learn to live (and die) by the sea. As Brian explains, the sea dictates their every move, from the destination they head to, to how much they can stay in a single spot. Planning also plays a huge part, because they have to be very organized when it comes to going off the grid for months on end. A devil-may-care attitude also helps, as does the knowledge that whatever obstacle comes their way will only be overcome by working together, as a team.

In the years it’s been out to sea, SV Delos has been upgraded constantly, mostly by Brian himself. It can now run on solar and wind power (1,400 Watts of solar and 800 Watt of wind power from two generators), has a diesel engine and a diesel generator for backup for when there’s no wind for the sails, and sufficient storage to pack it with supplies that will last them for a long time. This includes freezers under the couch and storage underneath the floor. In addition to a generous fresh water tank, they also have a desalinator, which produces 200 liters (52.8 gallons) of fresh water an hour.

The interior is very practical and can sleep as many as six people. There’s a master bedroom with an office and ensuite wet bathroom, another bedroom with a bathroom, a living room / dining room, a fully-equipped but small kitchen, and the cockpit that also doubles as a secondary living room. Because both Brian and Karin earn their living online, they also have broadband internet onboard. Creature comforts like a washer-dryer combo, toaster, and a proper oven have also been added in time.

SV Delos has now traveled thousands of nautical miles and been around the world a couple of times. Its journeys are documented on the SV Delos YouTube channel, as well as on social media – and could have also been documented in a reality show, if networks had their way. But Brian turned down all offers, because he wanted to retain creative control over his own story.

On average, the sail-assisted boat travels some 8,000 nautical miles (9,206 miles / 14,816 km) per year, but the Trautmans say that they spend 90% of their time on the boat docked, and only 10% of it actually sailing. They prefer remote destinations to marinas and ports, because the latter are too expensive and crowded. When they reach a place they like, they will stay there for as long as they want. If that’s not living the dream, we don’t know what is, really.



Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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