Blogs

Using Social Media Influence as a Multiplier for Charity- By Brian

Sailing across the Indian Ocean way back in 2015 we listened to a podcast about Tom’s Shoes.  This is one of our favorite indulgences on passage, and it’s a great way to pass the time while we lounge around half asleep to the gentle rocking motion of Delos.  One eye on the horizon and an ear tuned into whatever happens to be playing in the background. 

The on watch crew has control of the entertainment, and in this case we were on a marathon session of “How I Built This” by Guy Raz.  The podcast featuring Tom’s Shoes popped up and the story of creating a profitable business that could still have a positive impact on the world rung true with us.  Then and there we decided that we would try and use whatever social media influence we had to not only promote our project and way of living, but to also try and help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Based on these ideals, when we wrote our articles of incorporation for “The Delos Project” we decided to do a few things.  First off, we decided to use the money from our Buy us a Beer fund (some, but not all! Ha Ha.) to actually pass on the love and buy other people beers.  You have no idea how much fun it is to buy random strangers in a bar a round of beers.  They look confused at first, probably wondering “What do you have to profit from buying me a drink?  What do you want in return?”  

Eventually they smile and thank you, to which we reply “Don’t thank us, it’s a gift given to us by someone on the other side of the world.  All we ask is you enjoy the drink, and if possible do the same for someone else down the road.”  It’s a concept of paying it forward, and of course this often results in many more rounds and great conversation during which we do our best to explain our lifestyle, and how we support it by sailing around the world and making YouTube videos.

Even more important than buying random strangers drinks, we decided to set aside a percentage of any financial gain from The Delos Project and put the money towards ideals that focus on the areas of humanity and the environment.  In fact, here is a snippet from a document entitled “The Articles of Chagos” which we wrote in the middle of the Indian Ocean in the remote, uninhabited archipelago of Chagos.

Articles of Chagos

Drafted on August 13th, 2015

Karin Syren, Josje Leyten, Brian Trautman, Brady Trautman

Mission statement:

Delos is about inspiring people, about encouraging people to live in the now.  We hope by doing this others will take a few moments to relax from the typical rushed pace of life and consider just what a special planet we live on.  Just a small step back from the typical consumer lifestyle will have positive impact and healthy side effects on the planet and humanity in general.  It can be as small as giving someone a much needed break from the dreary work day, or as large as actually inspiring someone to do what’s necessary to live their dreams.  We intend to do this by giving people a glimpse via social media into an alternative lifestyle of sailing and traveling around the world.

So what do we want to accomplish with this?

First and foremost the purpose is to establish a sustainable lifestyle focused business that allows freedom, flexibility, and enough income to live comfortably.  We will then use this sustainable business to accomplish our mission.

I will spare you the legal mumbo jumbo we mostly copied from Legal Zoom to create an LLC in the US, however I think this excerpt from further on in the document is very poignant:

“…20% will be set aside for charities, donations, causes, and the future growth of the Delos Mission.  Of this half will go to charitable causes outside of Delos, the other half will be used for Delos charity and future growth of our project…”

So, from the onset of our project we built in a way to make sure we incorporated the concept of giving back and paying it forward.  We have been able to support many environmental and humanitarian efforts because of this, which brings me to what I actually wanted to talk about which is the completion of a very successful project we helped with in conjunction with Andy and Joanna from SV Bamba Maru, entitled “Sailing for a Smile”.  Their project focused on humanitarian and rebuilding efforts for those affected by the devastating hurricanes that recently struck the Caribbean.  They loaded their catamaran with relief supplies and personally delivered them to those affected by the natural disasters. 

The CALLS center in Dominica after the storm.

Recently they had focused their efforts on Dominica, a Caribbean island that was decimated by the ferocious hurricanes, and even more specifically for efforts to help schools and kids that had slipped through the cracks of the other larger relief programs.  For this project instead of simply giving a percentage of our proceeds we decided to try and use Social Media as a multiplier for that money.  We asked the Delos Tribe to match our money, promising that we would match any contributions made to this project 100% for the first $1,000.  In other words, if we got $1,000 in donations from the Delos Tribe we would kick in another $1,000 and double the efforts then donate 100% of that money.  Well, the Delos Tribe absolutely blew us out of the water!  We got hundreds of individual donations ranging in size from $1.00 to $500.00.  Using social media we  turned $1,000 into over $15,000 dollars!  If you’re interested here is the YouTube video that kicked off the project.

You might be wondering why not create custom, one-off shirts for such projects?  Certainly people are more likely to donate when they get something tangible in return.  We did in fact look into this but after a few calculations decided that given the cost of making and distributing custom shirts, especially if they are printed on demand, it’s very likely that most of the money would go to the printing and distribution of the shirts rather than to support the effort itself.  For example on our own Delos shirts we sell in our shop our profit margin is about 20% before fulfillment.   To raise the same money we did with direct donations we would have needed to sell $75,000 worth of shirts!

Andy and Joanna at the St. John’s Primary School in Dominica.

 

SV Bamba Maru was anchored in Dominica identifying specific schools that still had significant damage and were not receiving help from other organizations.  Our plan was to bypass some of the bureaucratic losses that unfortunately occur in some larger charity organizations and donate the money directly to the schools themselves.  This meant tracking down the school principals, discussing what work they required, and finally  getting the wire transfer information so we could wire the money directly to the school bank accounts.

 

Mahaut Preschool getting a new roof.

 

We decided to make many small donations, both so that we could ensure the money was being used properly, but also because we learned if money wired into a school account exceeded a certain amount it must be transferred to the Dominica school general fund.  At which point we would lose the ability to determine where and what the money was actually used for.  This also gave us the ability to donate directly to pre-schools and adolescent organizations that were outside of the government funded system, but still vital to the entire ecosystem.

 

The new kitchen in the CALLS center after repairs and new equipment.

 

No more rain in the MAHAUT preschool!

It took about 6 months, but using this method we were able to do major work on a number of buildings.  This work ranged from full roof replacements to structural repairs to window replacements.  In some cases we purchased kitchen equipment to get school cafeterias back in operation.  Who wants to learn on an empty stomach?  Not this guy!  The Delos Tribe even stepped up personally to deliver school supplies and sports equipment purchased in the US and delivered it by sailboat.

I would like to express my thanks to everyone that made this project successful by donating. You know who you are!  And especially to Andy and Joanna from SV Bamba Maru for doing the grunt work on the ground.  It wouldn’t have been possible otherwise!

Please check out the video below that Andy and Joanna put together that sums up the project!

Delos Tribe Courtney handing out school supplies in Dominica.

 

Delos Tribe Courtney handing out sports equipment in Dominica.

 

Well said sir, well said!

SV Delos on the Adventure Sports Podcast!

A few days ago I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with Mason Gravley from The Adventure Sports Podcast. He asked some incredible questions about how the the trip started so many years ago and what it’s like to cross an ocean on a sailboat.  It was an absolute blast, and I hope you enjoy!    Fair winds- Capt Brian

1 Hr Length

https://www.adventuresportspodcast.com/2019/08/ep-559-eleven-years-living-at-sea-and.html

A full description is below:

Have you ever wanted to just quit your job, sell your house and head out on an adventure for a decade? Yeah, me too. Today we chat with someone who actually did that and is still doing it, Brian Trautman.

After being unsatisfied with the “perfect job”, house, car, etc., he came across a book about sailing across the ocean and knew that was what he needed to do with his life.

He sold everything he owned, bought a boat, and sailed to New Zealand from Seattle. That first experience started a trend that would extend for more than a decade and lead to countless adventures that have been chronicled on his YouTube channel: Sailing SV Delos, gaining over 100 million views in the process.

To date, Brian and crew have visited 6 continents, 45 countries, and crossed every ocean in the world on his 53 foot Ketch.

Enjoy!

Where’s my Friday Video?!?!? By Capt. Brian

Dear Delos Tribe! It’s a sunny, beautiful morning here on Delos. We’re currently in the incredible city of San Juan, Puerto Rico soaking up the atmosphere and getting Delos ready for our next sail to the Bahamas.

We plan to leave tomorrow but we’re not sure if it’s possible because our jib furler started making a terrible grinding noise on the sail here. I tore it apart and found that the top seal has gone bad, letting water into the gearbox and electric motor. The motor rusted to bits and the grease turned into a white chalky like substance. The bearings were wobbly and nearly seized. But I do think it’s salvageable. We spent the last week cleaning, stripping, chasing down parts, and rebuilding the electric motor.  I had to order metric seals from the mainland US and now the gearbox is smooth as butter and looking pretty thanks to Mr. Brady’s paint job. The entire crew has been pitching in and lending their hand to the effort. Progress is being made on the to-do boat work list and hopefully if all goes well we will be back in business and ready to sail by tomorrow, but you never really know until you cast off the dock lines and head out.

But that’s not really the reason why I wanted to sit down this morning and write this. It has more to do with what may be on your mind- “Where’s my Friday Delos video?” Well, I that’s a great question and I’ll do my best to explain. Sharing this lifestyle is something we’re very passionate about. You’ve made it possible for us to continue this project, and sharing the experience of sailing around the world. You’ve given us so much support and love in return for making the videos, so much in fact it’s left us feeling very humbled and so grateful for the entire experience. You welcomed us into your hearts and homes and made us a part of your weekend ritual, for which we feel very blessed.

We started making the videos a few years ago, and what a wild ride it’s been! We began by literally googling “How to edit a video?” and learned as we went. We bought new cameras, drones, and upgraded our editing game. All of it made possible by your support. We found a niche in a genre of video that barely existed before and are really proud to be one of the first out there to create and share this type of content.  And now we’re approaching 100,000,000 views which is truly astounding!!!! Can you believe that? ONE-HUNDRED-MILLION!!! Truly remarkable for a bunch of sailors with a video editing problem.

But as with most things in life there are two sides to everything, and the other side of this coin is the effort and time required to make the type of videos we want. We’re really not interested in playing the “YouTube Game”. If you’re not sure what this is let me fill you in a little bit. Pump out a lot of videos, get as many people to click using whatever means necessary (catchy titles, risqué thumbnails, etc.). Try to turn those viewers into subscribers and ask them to like and comment on your videos.  Keep your videos short, optimize for mobile. The more views you get, the more ads YouTube can show, and therefore the more money they can make, which means your video is more likely to get promoted as a coveted YouTube recommended video, which brings you more viewers (hopefully) and the cycle starts over all again. Of course there are MANY, MANY more factors including engagement and view duration so this is the overly simplified description. In general the more videos you release, the more views you get, and the more your channel grows. I think it’s safe to say the longer format videos we like to make are not optimized for the YouTube algorithm.

Each and every Friday for the past few years we’ve done our best to release a video like clockwork.  It became our ritual, and from some of the comments and messages we receive it has become a part of your ritual as well. Just the thought that you’ve watched our videos during a break at work, or on a cozy Saturday morning at home really inspires us to continue doing what we’re doing.

But there is a cost for everything, and the cost in this case is the time required to make the type of videos we want.  We want to make quality content with good stories, and continue to evolve our filming and editing skills. We want to make videos that you are proud to sit down and watch as a family, or share with a friend. We don’t want to make a standard “YouTube Game” video.

Lately we’ve felt that that we need to make a tough decision. Sailing and living on a sailboat is an incredible lifestyle, but it is also an incredible amount of work all on its own. If you’ve ever owned a boat and prepared it to set sail you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t then take it from someone that knows first hand a boat can and will take all the energy you put into her. Add to this the filming and editing component and you find your days filled. Please don’t misunderstand this as a complaint, because it’s something that we feel very passionate about continuing to do. It’s just a pure realization I think we’ve all been feeling over the past months. At what point do you draw the line? I think it’s when you have the realization that you should be out exploring and living life to the fullest, but instead you find yourself in front of the computer, which to me sort of defeats the purpose you had in the first place. We’ve found it’s no longer possible for us to keep up with the pace of editing videos and do this lifestyle justice. So we need to make a conscience decision. It’s the age-old argument of quality vs. quantity. The idea of finding balance in life. So for now we’ve decided to stay focused on what we love. Even if it means releasing less videos.

I want to be very clear on this point- We have no intention of stopping the videos!  Our intention is to continue to grow and evolve our style, and at the same time try to give you the truest glimpse into what sailing around the world is all about from our point of view. There is so much love and excitement on Delos right now. Karin and I are flying back to Sweden in just a few weeks to have a daughter, which is the beginning of a whole new adventure!! Brady and Alex are going to put some miles under Delos’s keel and sail her to Europe, where we’ll all meet up when the timing feels right, slap a “Baby on Board” sticker on the stern, and do our best to show you what it’s like to have a little sailor onboard.

There may be some months where we release a video every week, there may be others where we skip a week, there may be periods where we don’t release a video at all. We feel this is the right decision even if it impacts our “social media statistics”. We choose lifestyle over the bottom line. We’re okay with that! I hope you continue watching, and if you choose, also to continue supporting. Either way everyone reading this message has a special place in our hearts.

I would love to see your comments and questions so please post below. Don’t be shy!

Peace, Love, and sending lot’s of warm and sunny vibes from Delos to you!

Capt. Brian, Kazza, Senor Brady, and Alex Blue.

Nana Mo’s Excellent Adventure on Delos – By Maureen

Ever since I left Delos in Grenada 4 days ago, I haven’t been able to focus on anything but the memories of that incredible experience.

I discovered Delos on YouTube last year while day dreaming about sailing away to exotic places. I was drawn in immediately and it didn’t take long for my husband Colin to become addicted too.
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One Year on Delos – by Alex Blue

It is March 30th, 2018 and exactly one year ago I was on a flight half way across the world from my home state of California towards Cape Town, South Africa. The year since then has surely been one of the most challenging and therefore beautiful of my life. For months, I have been contemplating about how to write down what it has meant to me- a grand summation of all I have learned about the earth and myself… but every time I begin brainstorming, my mind gets lost folding into a million different thought patterns. So, in this final moment and in true Delos style, a few rums deep, I will do my best to make it short and sweet.
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thought 4. by leeesir

monday 1.1.2018, 11:30, somewhere in cold austria

another monday. another thought post.
but it’s not a normal monday for me.
it’s not normal because I am writing this from austria, not delos in sunny brazil!

yes, you read right. after 9 months of sailing and traveling i have returned back to my home country, back to friends and family and the cold weather.

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thought 3 – by lisa

tuesday 21.11.2017, 10:45, abrolhos in brazil

having a camera, or actually a bunch of cameras, around you on a daily basis is not very common. at least it was not normal for me before i came on delos. in fact, it’s still not normal for me. but it’s part of the game and i enjoy playing the game, otherwise i would not be here anymore i guess. View More

Thought 2 – by Lisa

wednesday 19.07.2017, 13:11, somewhere between ascension island and brazil

 

we’re in the middle of nowhere. far from land and far from any civilization. although two cargo ships crossed our way earlier today, but that doesn’t count. View More

The Delos Diaries: Part 26 “Becoming a Mermaid.”

We’re off early this morning. We’re heading to an amazing dive site called Bird Rock. It’s nice to get away from the island to be honest. I love Ascension, but already I know it’s time for us to leave. We’re here for another week and we’ve got a lot more adventures to be had, but whenever I look out into the ocean, I feel a restlessness. View More