It is noon on the 1st February 2020. I am honored to be the 500st person in the world to see the first private video about climate activist Greta Thunberg crossing the Atlantic Ocean. I am able to be in this position because since years, I believe that Sailing Channel Video makers do something right, that they are pioneering a model that will change the future of media creation, that other media like TV, Movies, or Netflix try hard to achieve and will never achieve. Do I like it? I like it a lot.
What are Sailing Channel Videos? Typically, it is a bunch of people who bought a sailboat, are living on it, and make videos about it. They often start creating these videos to share their live with their close friends and family, to stay in touch. But after a while, some channels went deeper and developed an art form and new media format, that has not been there before. They create videos that anyone can watch and enjoy, not only friends and family. Often a talent for making videos and being natural in front of the camera plays a role. To continue doing this, they ask the audience for money and resources, with the simple offer: if you support me living my life and doing these videos about it, I am going to continue so. Thousands of people today already support Sailing Channel Video makers. The videos get better. The fanbase increases. The creators talk with their audience and listen to them. A positive feedback loop comes into play, where both creators get more confident in what they do as artists and the audience gets more comfortable supporting them what they do.
Today is 1st February 2020, I am watching one of my favorite YouTube channels, Sailing La Vagabonde. Today is a special day. It is the day, they published their first video about their atlantic crossing with climate activist Great Thunberg to their Patreons. I love what Elay and Riley from Sailing La Vagabonde do since many years. I watched nearly all their episodes. When they announced in November 2019 that they are going to help climate activist Greta Thunberg to cross the Atlantic Ocean to reach COP25, I decided that it is time to now also support them with a donation $3 each month. Because they are good people and they do something that is deeply right and I as a decent human being must support this cause. In addition to their YouTube channel, I support Sailing La Vagabonde financially on Patreon.com. Since November, I pay a donation of about $3 each month to them.
If you see this post on 1st February, the video will not be online yet. To see it, you have to join me on Patreon and Support Sailing La Vagabonde. I could just share the secret YouTube link here – but I won’t do it, because – hey – it would be wrong. And this post is all about right and wrong and respecting artists and their work.
Today is the 1st February 2020. My favorite Youtube Channel just released the first video about Greta Thunbergs Atlantic Crossing – only to their patreons. I click the link. 499 people watched this video before me. We are amongst ourselves. We, the fans. We see Riley, Elay, Lenny on La Vagabonde. We know the boat because we saw it when they bought it. We know Lenny because we saw the pictures when he was born, when Elay was pregnant. We know the hardship and good and bad because over the last years, we followed them. We commented on their posts, they liked our comments and replied. As audience, we are connected to the artists. We know them, they know us. I also follow climate activist Greta Thunberg, who I highly respect for her writing/talking skills and for her activism. I bought her book. I follow Greta on Facebook and Instagram. Today I see something like if A-Team and Knight Rider would team up to save the world. The real world. Do I like it? I like it a lot.
Tomorrow, on 2nd February 2020, Journalists will see this video. They will report about it. They will report about the private life of Greta Thunberg and Svante. They will discuss if this YouTube couple just did it for fame and money and if Greta was secretly paid, if anyone has an advertisement deal, what corporations may be behind all this. That Great Thunberg is different. They are biased because as paid journalists, working under the regime of channelized media and pressured by shareholder value, they do not understand how free media works. They are biased. You will be biased by their reports.
I know who paid this video. I did. And others.
I love Sailing Channels. Since years.
I never wanted Netflix or Amazon. I am watching multiple channels and I will quote my experience with them, so to understand this, it helps if you first know what we are talking about.
- Sailing SV Delos (youtube) – my favorite Sailing Channel. They are sailing the world since 10 years on a sturdy two-master. Brian is a very reflected and gentle programmer and technician – like me, so I can feel with him. Their content: fantastic places, adventure, boat repairs, respectful interactions with people. I support them financially.
- Sailing La Vagabonde (youtube) – the first popular Sailing Channel. A couple sailing around the world since years. They have lovely conversations about life and philosophy and treat people very respectfully. They met on a monohull in Greece, sailed to Australia, sold the mono and bought a cat. Now they have a child, Lenny. I support them financially.
- Sailing Britaly (youtube) – the british engineer Chris and an Italian lady Rossella, now with a Britalian child, Emma. They have great boat-repair videos and explanation videos and Chris is the “Bob Ross of Sailing” when it comes to explaining things. I support them financially.
- Sailing Uma (youtube) – Dan from Canada and Kika from Haiti, on a small boat that they turn into heaven. They replaced the Diesel with an electric-motor (yeah, no CO2!) and turn everything into beauty. Also, they are lovely people and treat others respectfully. I support them financially.
- We also watch Gone with the Wynns and Bums on a Boat for similar reasons as the others, we don’t support them financially but we subscribe their channel and like/view all their videos so that they get ad revenue. We watch Distant Shores because they are legends and it’s interesting to see how differently they do it (and how old they look) compared to the youngsters – it gives a fresh perspective.
Why I watch Sailing Channels
The creator only is responsible for themselves and for their direct audience. They can do whatever they want. Their audience will give feedback. They can chose to accept it or ignore it. The artist can further develop their art – while being completly free.
The artists can also decide to change their artform. If they communicate it to their audience, and explain it, it will be fine. Here is a heartbraking and long post from April 26 2019 where SV Delos explains that they don’t want to have the pressure anymore to be forced to publish a video every week and that they plan to give themselves the freedom to not to – they are authentic. And they ask for feedback by the audience – and they get tons of support for their decision!
Awesome places and adventures
The Sailing Channels feature some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. Tahiti. The Cook islands. They experience adventures that I would never be able to. You can see all the adventure of sailing the world without leaving your couch.
Ingrid and me are sailors. We are adventurers. We like to repair stuff, to understand stuff. We have been to Burning Man. We co-organize Burning Man in Austria. But there is only so much you can do in one life in parallel to having a job and a life. So when Ingrid and me sit on the couch and watch Sailing Channels, we feel that there are others out there who do the adventures, the same way we would do it.
Learning about Technology
The sailing channels report on the problems they face in daily life. Often, these problems are related to weather, sea, food, survival in remote islands, solar technology, lithium ion batteries, gas, CO2, architecture, seals, welding, painting. They are often amateurs like me and approach the problem like I would with they means they have on board. I love watching them solve technical problems because it’s both interesting and fun.
Here, watch Chris, the Bob Ross of boat videos setting fire to his rudder and failing lovely and funny in a technical hack that was indeed worth trying:
Free from the restrictions of TV
As Youtuber, you can do a 13 minute video. A 18 minute-video. A 5-hour experimental long video in realtime. If you work for TV, you have to deliver exactly 20-minute long videos and you are not allowed to experiment with the media.
Here are the pioneers Paul and Sharon of Distant Shores discussing with Brian from Delos about the freedom of social media compared to broadcast TV. They especially talk about the restrictions of contracts, distributions, payment you have in TV.
Here is a 2h 48m real time video. It has 399.000 views.
Direct Interaction with the audience
The audience can interact directly with the media creators. Here is a comment where I talk with Dan and Kika about their crossing. https://www.patreon.com/posts/30957250. We follow them on facebook and youtube. We constantly comment on them. We “like” their work. We, as audience, are part of the creative work of the artist.
Here is an interaction between me and Chris from Sailing Britaly we had on their comment wall (sorry Chris, I forgot to keep the hyperlink):
Hi Leo, we’re glad to bring some sea breeze your way! I have the opposite problem: when I’m working offshore I can see the sea, and smell the sea, and I look out over the horizon yearning for all those as yet unvisited places… It is beautiful, but it is a kind of beautiful prison! I spent several years looking out at the sea dreaming of owning a boat of our own and, as is the way of these things, with a strong enough desire we managed to achieve this goal. Being able to set our own course and go wherever the three of us like is an entirely different experience of being at sea. There can be few areas of modern life which can still offer such freedom. Thank you for helping us experience the sea as it deserves to be experienced! Cheers, ChrisChris from Sailing Britaly, 28.11.2018, on Patreon
Meet the audience and other creators
The Sailing Channel creators sometimes meet other channels and do fun episodes together. Also, they invite their Patreons on Board. There are many meetings announced beforehand where you can meet your stars and be on the boat that you have seen for years.
Here is a great episode of Uma battling Atticus:
Not controlled by shareholder-value-oriented people
Did you notice, that the concept of “Producer”, “Media Management”, “Control of Media”, “Corporations”, “Media Moguls”, “Reality TV”, “Shareholder Value” were not mentioned? Because the sailing channels today have proven that it is possible to create media art unmediated by a third, controlling party in between. No one can tell a Sailing Channel to shut down. No one can tell them to “do something to be more popular because we need more income to satisfy our shareholder value”. All the shit that happens in the commercial media landscape has been removed for them.
Yes, YouTube can shut them down. Yes, Patreon can shut down. But notice – I did link to their own personal homepages above? You have full control over a DNS domain and that as a way to anchor your identity is important. Each Channel is a business and keeps a direct connection and multiple lines to their audience: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Patreon, Vimeo. The creators are in control, and have options to keep their freedom. And I as audience are very well aware of the dark powers that are in capitalism and shareholder value, so I make everything I do to keep that relation alive from my side, like giving my artists my email address, so that they can reach me when they need me and when YouTube or Facebook sees them as financial thread and wants to censor them (media is war, sometimes). The web and email are free and open, like the ocean.
There is a dark side of media: Netflix uses algorithms to analyze what show could be most profitable and then create just that. Their main concern is shareholder value, to be profitable. Their main goal is to make us addicted to their TV shows. They found that multi-season shows make people most addictied. Great, so like a drug dealer, they produce more of that. They hire psychologists and big data scientist to scientifically analze how they can make profit from addiction. I don’t want to throw my money at someone whose job is to lure me, catch me, suck my money out of me.
Is this real life or is it scripted?
Is this real? Yes. This is real people acting in the real world. They are not contained in a studio. Their actions have effects in the same universe that I am in.
Is it scripted? Sometimes? But you are aware of it. They tell you. They show you. It doesnt hurt. Often, a sailing channel will use scripts and try scenes and repeat them to get one funny/adventerous scene in a good shot for the video. That is OK, if you want to tell a good story or want to have fun or want to have a quality video.
Do people act differently before the camera than behind? Sure. Here is a great example: Brian Trautman is a different person when being captain on his own ship – and when being a day guest with a beer in his hand when he visits Dan and Kika on Uma. Just see for yourself, he talks differently – and it’s ok:
Money and passion and life choices
[This section edited Feb 6 2020] People doing Sailing Channels have to make money, like everyone else, to live. It is hard work to create video every week, 40-60 person-hour workweeks are normal on a boat (spread on multiple people on the boat and off the boat). Many Sailing Channels dedicate many episodes about the hard work part. They show us the editing, the problems.
If you have found your artform, if it harmonizes with the audience, if you learned how to create high-quality media, if you want to make sailing a full-year activity, if you dedicate many hours over many years into it, if you happen to be a decent person live an interesting life, you may and up in an interesting position. By taking donations from patreons, you could get enough income to cover your living expenses and setting something aside. Sailing La Vagabonde and Sailing SV Delos came into that position. They can save for their retirement. Sailing UMA is probably on the brink.
In any case sharing sailing videos and taking donations for it allows the artists to live a passion and document it. The media market works different than a programmer, engineering, or office job. People find different ways how to sustain their life. Sailing channel makers report that they do part-time engineering jobs and part time sailing videos. It can be a conscious decision to combine life on board part of the year and life with family and profitable work other times, like Sailing Britaly does. Bums on a Boat have the fact that they started as bums in their title and they are getting better and better in being bums on a boat. Sailing SV Delos chose to work in boat jobs (and Brian did programming jobs if I remember correctly) in Australia because when they were broke, to continue their journey. This is where Brian met his future wife Karen. People find many ways how to combine their passion with working for others. That is something good to have achieved in life and that will pay off.
Should you sell out and show Tit’s and Ass? Here is a video where Bums on a Boat discuss if it’s good to show Tits’n Ass to get audience. Or if it is good to have a sexy young lady as eye-catching clickbait as video opener. Sure, as a human male I am attracted to seeing sexy Elay in a bikini, diving through the ocean. But I am also watching as Elay is captain and faces her fears steering a catamaran through shallow grounds. The same, the more conservative and grown-up look of Sharon of Distant Shores doesn’t stop me from watching their videos – because they do good work. Also, Ingrid also needs to enjoy the videos and if it’s only TNA, we wouldn’t be able to watch as couple.
Why other’s watch Sailing Videos
I’ve been watching some older SVDelos videos (around #95) and I have to say, I’m as hooked as when I discovered Breaking Bad!!! I watched a few others trying to emulate what you have on You Tube, but it can’t be done! I will remain a proud supporter of SVDelos!!Dave
In fact, they’ve gained such a following (3.8 million views per month) that they’ve become sailing’s most popular vloggers. They not only have “Patrons” who fund all their travel and expenses, but luxury French shipyard company Outremer kitted them out with a discounted 48ft Catamaran just last year.https://edition-m.cnn.com/2018/10/24/sport/la-vagabonde-elayna-carausu-riley-whitelum-sailing-spt-intl/index.html
It’s a big step up from where they first began — navigating a boat with barely any experience.
This will change the media landscape
This is big. This is changing how media works. You will notice it tomorrow, when the journalists see the Greta video.
With Reality TV, media tried to bring reality to TV and failed miserably. Reality will never be on TV. Reality will be on Patreon/YouTube, on the internet. Because the internet is where audience and artists can interact directly, without a man-in-the-middle.
Sailing Channels are something new. I was #500 to see Greta Thunberg in a family atmosphere, on video, preparing for her Atlantic Crossing, with artists I love. I paid and supported the world to make this happen. Now I am part of this story. And we all want to be part of something bigger.