Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is at the top of many travelers’ wish lists. SV Delos crew member Brady Tautman tells us some of the challenges and joys he has come across after 10 years at sea.
Four Adventure Seekers Sailing the World for Ten Years
When I meet people for the first time, they are often surprised to hear that I make my living traveling the world on a yacht.
“Is that even possible,” is usually the first question I get, followed by “what about pirates and storms, and how do you get food?”
It’s a natural response; few people choose to leave land life behind to face the great outdoors in all its glory. Most people have never sailed on a boat, let alone lived on one. But as unusual as living on a boat may seem, it’s actually fairly common.
We have met thousands of people along our journey, and the sailing community is an incredible bunch of people that help make our lifestyle even more remarkable.
A Brotherly Bond Like no Other
So how did it all begin?
It was a call to adventure that had me standing on the dock with my rucksack and goofy grin, in front of my big brother’s new boat. I was 21 years old and had very little life experience under my belt.
The yacht was called Delos, a 53-foot Amel Super Maramu, and little did I know at the time, but she would become my ticket to a new life.
I Quit University to Attend the School of Life
My brother Brian had decided to leave the corporate world behind, selling everything he owned, he left the rat race, and a high paying job, to follow his dream of sailing around the world. I was on spring break from university but soon realized the call to live life differently while I still could, was too great.
Brian had asked me to help sail the boat across the Pacific Ocean from Mexico to French Polynesia, a 4000-mile journey that would see us not step foot on land for over a month. That was ten years ago now.
The universe had other plans in store for me, and it turns out I ended up getting a degree in the school of life instead!
We Began Our YouTube Channel With a $200 ‘Dad Cam’
During that initial crossing, when delirium had almost set in, and we were doing what we could to pass the time, we started documenting our daily life aboard the boat with a $200 Sony ‘Dad cam.’ It was a bit of fun, a way to keep a record of what we were doing for friends and family back home in the states, and something we hoped we could look back on in our old age.
It wasn’t until we eventually reached Australia, that a friend suggested we upload our footage to YouTube. Initially hesitant, we uploaded the videos and were amazed to see that they started gaining views.
We Hope to Inspire People to Follow Their Dreams
People were enjoying what they were seeing, and the channel began to gain momentum. Being able to express our creativity through our videos added a new element to our trip, and for the first time since leaving, we began to feel like we had a real purpose aboard Delos.
We really enjoyed producing the videos, and we started to up our game with better gear, unique experiences and more underwater footage.
It turned out that people found our channel inspirational, and we became focused on sharing all we could in the hopes of inspiring others to step out of their comfort zone and follow their dreams.
Crowdfunding Has Allowed Us to Sail the World Full-time
Today, we have posted over 250 videos to YouTube, and have over 360,000 subscribers to our channel. We also have 88,000 Facebook followers and 128,000 Instagram followers, with a combined social media reach of almost two million people a month. But we wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of our Patrons.
In 2016, with our popularity growing, we started up a Patreon page, where people could donate money to help us keep the YouTube content coming, and the sailing dream alive. Now, several years later, we are fully autonomous and have the backing of our organically grown ‘Delos Tribe’, supporting us every step of the way.
We also offer Delos merchandise and have a ‘buy us a beer’ button on our website.
Of course, Delos wouldn’t have been able to sail 75,000 nautical miles without the support of our sponsors, companies we have chosen that align with our ethics and beliefs.
Our Tiny Home is Self-Sustainable and Has a Low Carbon Footprint
Our latest passage has taken Delos and her crew sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, sailing from Florida to the Azores, an archipelago of nine tiny islands 900 miles west of Portugal.
When I’m asked what it takes to complete a journey like this, my first answer is always “an ocean-going yacht!” Fortunately, Brian did his research when he decided on an Amel, and has purchased a boat that is right at home on the open ocean.
Delos is a true ocean-going machine, capable of keeping us safe and comfortable off the grid for weeks at a time. With solar panels to capture the sun’s rays, generators that turn the wind’s energy into electricity and sails that can take us almost anywhere in the world, we are able to enjoy a lifestyle that is both humbling and deeply fulfilling on top of respectful of our oceans.
Related read: Learn How To Sail Across The World by Watching This Couple Do It
Crossing an Ocean is Both Physically and Mentally Challenging
The planning, organization, mental strength and resilience involved in an ocean crossing can be pretty intense. When you have anywhere from four to eight crew aboard a small space for three weeks, it’s imperative that you can roll with the punches, so to say.
Add in seasickness and bad weather, and land life may start to look pretty good to you right now. But while living on a yacht and crossing an ocean can be challenging, it is also extremely rewarding.
Sailing Across an Ocean Makes You Truly Feel Alive
There is nothing like reeling in a tuna, filleting it and wrapping up sushi rolls in the same afternoon, it doesn’t get any fresher. Or having a hot cup of tea in the cockpit while watching an epic sunrise. Then there are the moments when you really know you’re alive, like a lightning storm all around your boat; you are torn between awe and trepidation.
Simple things become super enjoyable while sailing across an ocean.
Listening to music, watching a movie on the laptop or reading a book can be done with zero feelings of guilt that you should be doing something else because there really is nowhere else to go. Often, we sit in the cockpit and stare at the open expanse around us.
It is amazing how no two days on the ocean are alike, and even though the view can seem sparse, there is always something to catch your eye. A cloud, a breaking wave, a flying fish, or a bird that must be a long way from home, can keep you entertained for hours.
Keeping Watch 24-hours a Day
Something that has to be sorted during a passage is a rotating watch schedule. Even in the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, there are other boats and ships to keep an eye out for. There is always someone at the helm keeping watch on the horizon, 24 hours a day, for the entire passage.
This may sound like a bit of a drag but being awoken in the middle of the night by another crew member who has just finished their three-hour shift, isn’t so bad when you have the night sky to yourself.
Some of the most memorable moments are when I am alone on a night watch. The crew is asleep, and the boat is slicing effortlessly through the waves. The bioluminescence has the water around the boat lit up with an incandescent glow.
Far from land, there is no light pollution, and I am free to gaze off into the universe with nothing but my imagination to keep me company, it’s a surreal experience, one that still gives me goosebumps.
Sailing is a Calculated Risk
How do we keep safe?
We have to deal with whatever comes our way during an ocean crossing, and although the boat has emergency positioning systems, help may not arrive for days. Part of our preparation is to make sure our boat is in top condition.
We also have a lot of safety gear as well as medicines and first aid equipment, because injuries at sea have the potential to turn into emergencies. Going overboard is every sailor’s worst nightmare, and brings a very real chance of death, so we have systems in place to manage this risk.
There are also several forms of communications onboard, including a satellite phone, single-sideband radio, and VHF radio.
On the other hand, we carry enough food to last a minimum of three months every time we sail offshore because you just never know when something could go wrong, we could be stuck at sea for a lot longer than expected.
In Ten Years of Sailing, We’ve Never Encountered Pirates
Another question we get a lot is “what about pirates?”
While it’s true there are pirates in certain parts of the world; we can usually stay abreast of them by keeping our eyes and ears open to what other cruisers are talking about on the local radio nets, or online through cruiser websites. If we hear a place has had a lot of trouble with pirates, we just give the area a wide berth. The reality is, there are many things in life, on land and on the water, that can get you into trouble.
It’s been our experience that the majority of the world is filled with good people who are just like us, sharing what they have and only asking for a smile in return.
You Don’t Want to Mess with Mother Nature
The weather is one of the more crucial things to get right when you are traveling the world by boat. We have been caught in some pretty gnarly conditions in the Indian Ocean as we were sailing to Madagascar.
With winds over 50 knots and eight-meter seas, it was a roller coaster ride where everyone had to cram themselves into a spot and hang on. It’s times like these you may question what the hell you are doing on a boat in the middle of the ocean, but like anything worth doing, it’s the difficult times that make the beautiful experiences all the sweeter.
With all of the weather forecasts at our fingertips, even while thousands of miles from land, we can adjust and plan our route to avoid most bad-weather situations. Forecasting is also so accurate these days, that it’s unusual to get into a lot of trouble, especially on shorter sails.
But, like anything, reading the weather is a real skill and it takes several years to master the art.
Related read: 5 Sailing Adventures in Europe That Will Feed Your Wanderlust
Land-Ho! Arriving After Weeks at Sea
The first glimpse of land always creates a buzz, with the smell of moist foliage and soil floating on the breeze. The ocean flattens out and the hard times are forgotten, and it’s a moment to reflect on the passage you’ve just had.
What will the new country or island bring and how can we share that feeling with our viewers?
The excitement we feel as we step foot on land is childlike, and as we begin to learn about a new culture and make friends, we know that we are about to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Exploring Our Planet, Both Above and Below the Water
Sailing aboard Delos has taken us to some of the most remote and exotic destinations in the world. We have been able to explore places where it feels like we are the only people on the planet.
We’ve swum with enormous manta rays off the coast of Mexico, sperm whales in the Caribbean waters off Dominica, and great white sharks near Ascension Island.
We’ve climbed active volcanoes, and camped in craters, we’ve flown through the sky in a dinghy with wings, and witnessed mother nature at both her finest and most fierce, equally beautiful and terrifying.
We’ve helped rebuild devastated communities flattened by hurricanes and sailed in small wooden boats with local fishermen, eager to learn their ways.
With an onboard dive compressor, we have been able to dive the most isolated underwater wonderlands all over the world, observing sea creatures most people never even know exist.
We’ve been welcomed into people’s homes and their hearts, from tribesmen in Madagascar, to three generations of family living in a ramshackle hut in the Philippines, the universal language of love and kindness is all the same and I’m so thankful I can help share it!
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