Why I watch Sailing Channel Videos and not Netflix or TV anymore – because this is the future of media

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

Artistic Freedom

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, Chris

Chris 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!!


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.
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.

2 Replies to “Why I watch Sailing Channel Videos and not Netflix or TV anymore – because this is the future of media”

  1. Hi Leo,

    thank you very much indeed for this deep and philosophical article. It is indeed very interesting to see how this directly-funded media is changing the world and I definitely believe that it is improving many people’s lives: both creators and viewers alike.

    I can’t speak for others, but I can speak for us. We LOVE making sailing videos. I can spend 12 hours or more in a day behind a laptop screen editing (and sometimes I do) and it really doesn’t feel like ‘work’.

    On the other hand, there is only so long you can spend more hours per week making videos than you would in a 9-5 job before that starts to have a huge impact on all aspects your life. In our case, had we not started to see some return from our efforts after Emma was born, we would have abandoned our very intensive ‘hobby’ of making sailing videos in order to concentrate more on the other things we do in life which are far more fruitful. (We can earn more in a week doing the other things we do in life than we can in three months or more of making our sailing videos.)

    Having a baby really reduces the amount of ‘spare’ time you have in your life, so you are forced to be more efficient. After Emma was born, we decided to open a Patreon page in order to allow our viewers (of whom we had several thousand at that time) to encourage us to keep making our videos. We were quite uncomfortable with the whole thing at first, as we have always been, and will always be, fiercely independent in life. In fact, we didn’t really tell anyone we had launched a Patreon Page at first, which was a huge missed opportunity in retrospect!

    The thing is, we have done things in a very different way from many others. We didn’t ‘sell everything’ and set sail with a certain amount of money in the bank, hoping to continue as long as possible before the money ran out and we would have to go back to our former lives. Instead, we worked on our financial freedom for years before we bought our boat. We arranged our life in such a way that we could afford to have several consecutive months off work every year so that we can sail anywhere we want, in a completely sustainable way. (The short story is that we worked very hard, spent very little, and invested the money we saved into assets which continue to pay us while we are sailing).

    We haven’t severed our ties on land for a few different reasons:
    1) We are both very close to our families and we want to be able to spend time in both the UK & Italy. Now that we have Emma in our life this is doubly important to us and Emma’s grandparents are a very important part of her life.
    2) We have been living cross-border since 2005. We are well versed in the potential pitfalls of living an unconventional life. Domicile, residence, and many other things which people don’t think about when they consider living on a boat… (Try getting car insurance if you don’t have a fixed address on land, or if you are not a resident in the country in question, for example.) By maintaining homes in the UK & Italy, we have all bases covered and we can spend prolonged periods wherever we like as we can maintain our residence on land, with all of the advantages which go with that.
    3) Rossella would never spend all year at sea. She loves being on the boat, but after a four-month stint on board she will always be ready to spend time ashore.

    So the point here is this: We don’t need the income we get from making our videos. If we stopped making videos tomorrow, we would actually be a lot better off than we are now, because we could use the time freed up by this to work on more profitable activities.

    However, making sailing videos is our passion, and every Patreon pledge helps us extend the amount of time we spend making sailing videos. So although we absolutely don’t need the income we get from Patreon to go cruising (we have this covered thanks to many years of our own hard work combined with sacrifices and good investment decisions) the income we get from our wonderful, amazing, ‘meravigliosi’ Patrons allows us to keep doing what we love, which is making sailing videos.

    In return, we hope that our Patrons get lots of value from us, and we can continue to share what we have learnt in our lives to date, whether that be mechanical or electrical engineering, buying & selling boats (we were boat importers / dealers together for a few years), or building a life with the flexibility and financial freedom to allow you to go cruising for several consecutive months per year for the rest of your life.

    We believe that this is a win-win for all concerned, and we very much look forward to a point in time in the future where making our sailing videos is one of the most fruitful things we do in life. At that point we can really up our game and share our life experience to hep others at a completely new level.

    In the meantime we would like to say a huge thank you to our Patrons like you Leo, as without you we would have stopped making videos when Emma was born.

    We would still be cruising, but we wouldn’t be sharing that experience with others. Thanks to you and your fantastic peers we have been able to continue doing this and we really appreciate that, as well as your moral support, as demonstrated in this article.

    We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, and your fellow patrons for helping us do our bit to make the word a better place. Every new Patron who joins our Patreon Crew enables us to sponsor Eden Reforestation Projects to plant trees (alleviating poverty in the process) and this helps us to leave a better world for our children and our children’s children. We are very proud to be involved in Eden’s work and we look forward to helping them plant many more trees in the future, god willing.

    You are a scholar and a gentleman, and it is a true privilege to have you on our team.

    Very best regards,
    Chris (Plus Rossella & Emma)
    Sailing Britaly

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