5 years cruising the World – Brian Trautman & crew still living the dream

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5 years ago, Brian Trautman dropped the mooring lines of his boat Delos, and left the business World in Seattle behind him. He and his crew planned an epic trip across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand but when they finally got there, they weren’t ready to stop…Asia was beckoning.

Asia at Sea talked to Brian about how this all started and to find out where they are now and how they are getting along.

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Delos..tell us about the boat. When and where did you buy her? Did you name her yourself?  And if so what does the name mean?

I remember the first time I walked down the dock and saw Delos sitting there.  She just screamed out “Take me across an ocean!” .  I was living and working in Seattle at the time and had been shopping for a solid, blue water cruising boat for over a year.  I went to a bunch of boat shows drooling over everything then heard about the Amel boats from a cruising seminar.  At that time there was only one Amel Super Maramu for sale on the West coast of the US.  It just happened to be in Bellingham, a few hours drive north of Seattle almost on the Canadian border so I headed up to take a look. They say that when you find your boat you know it, and that’s exactly what it was like. I put in an offer and the sale closed a few months later in June of 2008.

They say that when you find your boat you know it, and that’s exactly what it was like

Delos was named by the previous owner and the history goes a little something like this.  And I’m paraphrasing here to keep it really short:

Zeus was a bit of a player and was fooling around with Leto.  In fact Zeus got her pregnant.  Hera found out and banished Leto.  This was a problem because apparently the children of gods can’t be born in the human domain.  Zeus called in a favor from his bro Poseidon who used his trident to create a magical island named Delos, which was someplace between heaven and earth.  Artemis and Apollo were then safely born on the Island of Delos.

I thought it was a pretty sweet story so kept the name!

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How did this epic trip start; did you have any initial plans?

Strangely with a trip to the library on a sunny Seattle Day.  I was browsing the shelves and saw a book with a bright blue ocean on the cover.  I can’t remember the exact title but it was something like “How to cross an ocean on your own boat.”  What?!??!  Was that even possible to do these days?   I’d been sailing small boats around the lakes of Seattle for a few years but the thought of crossing an ocean blew me away.  It then occurred to me that this was the ultimate way to travel!  A way to mix adventure and self sufficiency with the art of sailing.  And so the dream was born.  The initial plan was to sail to New Zealand.   I spent the next 4 years dreaming, saving, planning, and selling all my worldly possessions.

I spent the next 4 years dreaming, saving, planning, and selling all my worldly possessions

Delos departed Seattle in August of 2009 and we arrived in New Zealand in October of 2010.  There was no way I could stop now so another plan was born to sail to Australia via Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon’s.  Most of my savings had been spent by this time so we stretched the budget razor thin to make it happen.

Delos Hauled Out for Survey in Seattle

Seattle

We sailed on and off the anchor to save diesel and lived off fish and rice.   It was an amazing experience to see just how cheaply you can live on the ocean.  We made it happen and arrived in Australia some 7 months after departing New Zealand.  The entire crew was really, really broke so we parked Delos for a while and moved to Melbourne, Australia.  At this point the crew was myself, Brady, Josje, and Karin.  We weren’t done sailing, just flat out of cash so we all worked to put some money in the cruising kitty.  Since we’re not retired that’s what we do to follow our dreams- sail, run out of money, work, sail again.  Delos was parked for just over a year in Bundaberg, Australia while we scraped together enough for another season.

In May of 2013 we left Bundaberg and began sailing up the east coast of Australia ending up in Darwin..  Our plan was to sail through Indonesia, The Philippines, Malaysia, and into Thailand.  We loved the Philippines so much our plan was blown to smithereens and we ended up spending 8 months there! We only just got into Malaysia and plan to continue sailing west.  So basically an initial 18 month plan has stretched to 5 years with no end in sight.

We loved the Philippines so much our plan was blown to smithereens and we ended up spending 8 months there!

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You’ve producing more than two dozen videos of your travels, professionally put together and very entertaining. Where did you learn your skills in videography?

Oh wow, thanks so much!  We’re blushing over here!  I remember being in Mexico and having a Tequila fueled conversation in Bara de Navidad with a guy I had just met at the bar.  He was also traveling and we got to talking about sailing.  He insisted that I walk out right then and there and buy a HD camcorder to film stuff non-stop as we crossed the Pacific.  I thought at that point maybe it could be a cool project to work on, so I purchased a pretty basic camcorder for about US$200 and started filming.

I purchased a pretty basic camcorder for about US$ 200 and started filming

At first we just goofed around making stuff with still shots, random video clips, and maybe a few subtitles. When we returned to Delos this season in Australia we wanted to step up our game a notch so we bought a Go Pro and little better HD Camcorder.  We got a copy of Adobe Premiere and just went to town on the editing process.  It’s been quite a learning experience but A LOT of fun.

One of the crew’s short films below. They have produced almost 30 films in total.

Raja Ampat Indonesia

You’ve had quite a contrasting crew over the last months. Where did they all come from?

That has to be the most unexpected surprise about this trip.  I never could have guessed so many awesome people would sail on Delos.  Since the trip began we’ve had 33 people from 9 different countries sail on Delos. Some have stayed for a only a week while others have stayed for a month or longer.  Some are friends and family that have come to visit but most we’ve met while out sailing.   Brady is my brother and he got onboard in Mexico to help with the Pacific crossing to Tahiti.  He was going to stay a few months but ended up staying 5 years!

Since the trip began we’ve had 33 people from 9 different counties sail on Delos

Along the way we met Karin (from Sweden) who was backpacking in New Zealand and Josje (from New Zealand) who was sailing on her Uncle’s boat in Fiji.  Both were invited to sail for a weekend and never ended up leaving!  Most recently we met some amazing people in the Philippines that contacted us through our blog.  We spent a few weeks hanging with them and they actually joined us on the passage from The Philippines to Malaysia.

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On camera you all seem to get along very well; is this always the  case?

I know it may be hard to believe but we all get on incredibly well.  Everyone feels more like family than anything else.  We’re all out here to have fun and it’s a pretty low-stress environment most of the time.  Even on a 53’ boat you can still find your own space.  Just jump off for a swim to the nearest beach, or head up to the bow with your headphones in.  It’s your own little world!  We have a cooking and cleaning schedule and everyone pulls their own weight onboard which really helps.

You left the business world to go on this venture; do you think you’ll ever go back?

This trip has changed my DNA in a way I didn’t think possible.  There’s no way I could ever go back in the same capacity as before.  Delos will continue sailing West and when we end up somewhere and potentially settle down I’ll figure it out then.  I’ve learned a lot about what’s important in life and I know it’s not doing the 9-5 rat race!

This trip has changed my DNA in a way I didn’t think possible…i’ve learned a lot about what’s important in life and I know it’s not doing the 9-5 rat race!

Brady (top) and Brian (bottom) Trautman before and after

How long have you been in Asia now?

Actually I just realized it’s been a year already.  Boy, how time flies when you’re having fun.

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines (2)

Do you have a favourite spot so far in this part of the World?

Wow, that’s the toughest question so far.  Each and every place has so many special things about it.  I’d say it’s a three way competition between Vanuatu, New Zealand, and The Philippines.  In Vanuatu we witnessed the true practices of the local tribes, from war dances to exploding volcanoes.  In New Zealand we parked Delos in a marina and explored by land.  The beautiful mountains, glaciers, and beaches just blew us away.  Of course the Kiwi’s are just a fun loving, adventurous group so we got on real well.

In The Philippines we were blown away by the genuine smiles and friendliness of the people.  In every town and every village we met someone that took us under their wing and showed us around.  We got pulled into village huts for Tagay with Tanduay and Coke, partied with Filipino seafarers for New Years, rode on the tops of Jeepney’s, and met some lifelong friends that brought us into their homes and showed us the crazy big city of Manila.  Plus we really like San Miguel Beer.  The Philippines were so much fun our 2 month plan turned into an 8 month adventure!

 

Where’s next?

Delos is currently in Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo) and slowly creeping our way West.  We’ll hit Singapore, mainland Malaysia, and Thailand before crossing the Indian Ocean to South Africa.  But, our plans our written in the sand at low tide and have been known to change!

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If one of our readers is considering embarking on such an adventure, do you have any advice?

Just get out there and do it!  Speaking from experience the hardest part is actually cutting the cord and going.  I’ve met a lot of people that have been planning for 10 years or even longer.  They’re making everything shiny, making covers for everything, then bags to store their covers in, etc.  You and your boat will never be 100% ready but at some point you just have to cast off the lines and head out!  You probably already know more than you think so just use good common sense.  Oh yea- and bring lot’s of sunscreen!

You and your boat will never be 100% ready but at some point you just have to cast off the lines and head out!

Eastern Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Any other words of wisdom about cruising around the World?

There’s two types of sailors out there- those that have run aground and those that will!

Follow their journey at http://svdelos.blogspot.hk/

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15 Comments

  • Hi Brian , wow been falling your adventure over the last few months ,which properly means the internet is slow in Australia and your on land in a chair or retired by now.,any way if not,i hope our ships will cross paths one day and we get to meet.
    your videos of delos are priceless .
    Ive been shopping for the right boat for 6 months,or so an all massively expensive.
    i will persist i think boats are cheaper in the US
    WORKING TOWARDS THE GOAL
    keep sailing DELOS
    love to hear from you if your still sailing
    regards michael booth
    sydney AUSTRALIA
    ps yes i like beer too he he

  • Joe says:

    Wind and Time ,thats all you need in life.Enjoy your life

  • Leonardo Zingg says:

    Hi!! Brian and Karin, Brady and Josjo!
    I am really having a blast of emotions watching your videos, I have always wanted to live your life. It is a weird felling of jealousy but full good feelings and wishes for all of you! Would you consider in having my wife and I for about a month or two next summer (2017) as learning crew (obviously we will pay you).
    We are a bit older couple with young (not annoying) spirit. 53 (i’ll be on july 29 and my wife 46)
    Well … We wish you all the best! and hoping you could take us for a short period and share a tiny bit of your wonderful life.
    Please tell Josjo that watching her narrating her trip to his family made me send a smiling face (text) to my eighteen year old daughter who was mad at me for two days. -Too hard to explain-
    Again love that simple and uncomplicated life where laughs are the normal attitude.
    Best to all of you!
    Leo

  • Sheree says:

    Omg your amazing Brian, taking charge and looking after all those people and the Vessel!
    I’m from Australia WA Mandurah
    I have just brought a 24f cruise master Whittey. I would love to gain the knowledge to venture around my local area, fish and dive off where ever and not be afraid of sharks or what ever! I have just got a little scared lately from all the shark attracts in WA!

    What are you aware of, you affaid of priates? Or animals on the land when venturing?

    If u guys ever come to WA. There is a free mooring for you guys!

  • Alan nicol says:

    To the Delos crew I watched all your guys videos, your amazing bunch of human souls, I my self plan to sail the world from England,
    So my question to you captain Brian is, in what month would you leave all ways trying to follow summer around the world if you know what I mean.
    Peace and love to you guys
    Alan

  • Richard Robbins says:

    Hi. Delos and Crew,

    I have been following your travels for two years now. You can’t even begin to imagine how I envy what you are doing. I have several years experience in sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. I have been all the way around the world by ship while in the navy. I love the ocean even when it’s rough. I will never get to do what you are doing as I am 74 years old with serious health problems. To face challenges and be victorious is a wonderful feeling and you guys do it on a regular basis. If the Delos ever makes it to Annapolis, Maryland I wish there was some way you could let it be known as I would love to stop in and say HI providing I’m still on the green side. With love to you all…Richard.

  • Mark Baker says:

    Hello Brian and crew. We’ve been following your journey for years, both across oceans and through personal growth. You guys are an inspiration to more people than you could have imagined when you bought that first video camera.

    Also a sailor but with fewer skills and much smaller adventures, it has been truly fascinating to follow your story. I particularly like the sailboat stuff – the Copenhagen series was fantastic. Practical knowledge to help us prepare for future adventures and also insight into your crew dynamics and what inspires each of you. Throw in your travel logs with the places you’ve seen and the people you’ve met and the total package is wonderful.

    Thanks you so much. Safe travels and fair winds.

    – Mark

  • Hello to svdelos & crew, very nice to enjoy the sailing life or cruising, vicariously from your you tube videos, I seriously wasted a lot of time this weekend. While I have a few cruises on small or less than 25 meter Motor Yatch’s for short vacations, SCUBA and transport nothing like what you guys &gals do. I also appreciate the logistics-legal & regulatory, Customs/ visas etc. that you include. Question; Do any counties ever ask about immunizations? Keep up the good work.

    • SV Delos says:

      Hey Steven- Thanks so much for watching, and glad to hear we could contribute to your weekend productivity 🙂 Actually, the strictest countries so far have been New Zealand and Australia, and neither of them asked about immunizations. We noticed as we got into Asia we got asked if we’d come from the East coast of Africa due to Ebola. Other than not not really too much. For our own peace of mind we do keep up to date with Hepatitis, Tetnis, and Typhoid (we love to eat street food). There are probably a few others but can’t recall them right now. If you’re interested in check in regs maybe have a look at noonsite.com if you haven’t already. It lists all the entry and health requirements for pretty much every country! Fair Winds, and wishing you all the best! Brian SV Delos

  • I have enjoyed a lot of your videos. You are amazing!

  • Paul Merry says:

    So I’ve been sailing since the age of eight when I converted a dinghy into a leeboard sailboat with a gaff sail sewn by my mother. I have cruised to Maine for the past 20 years, now in a 40 footer. But your videos have inspired me to consider a more ambitious trip, and to risk a big piece of the retirement kitty on a Super Maramu. Really helpful to hear how you are doing and to see the fabulous places you have found. (I also hear the 20% in the engine room bit: cruising as we know consists of repairing boats in exotic locations.) Don’t know if I will make it out there, but keep up your great videos; and keep explaining. For example, how did you plan your trip with respect to avoiding storms (which you seem to have avoided) and finding the right wind direction? Maramus don’t like upwind, I take it! Thanks, PH

    • SV Delos says:

      Hey Paul- Very cool to hear you you’re considering some ocean crossing 🙂 These days the weather forecasting is really very, very, very good! Using our SSB radio and Pactor modem we could get GRIB forecasts good for 5 days in advance. This season we got an Iridium Go! device that gives us pretty much real time weather. This keeps you out of the bad fronts moving through for most passages. For long term (seasonal planning) we look at the pilot charts and historical weather patterns. The seasons have been known for centuries, and these days if you’re in a hurricane belt during the season you really have no excuse not to be aware of it. So if we are we watch weather closely and have a planned hurricane hole to run to if need be. There’s a great book called World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell that pretty much spells out the passages and seasons out for the entire world. It’s sort of our passage planning bible. Fair Winds, and wishing you the best! Brian SV Delos

  • Steve Minor says:

    ToThe Delos Crew,

    I’m truly inspired by your vision and lust for adventure to see the world by sailing. I’m living my lifelong dream through your blogs and videos so please don’t stop
    living your dream. I had a small sailboat in ny younger years and sailed in the San Francisco Bay, I proposed to my wife on that boat and we had numerious great overnight sails on the Bay. 35 years later I still lust to sail!
    Life is short and i see your already have accomplished a lifetime of memories that you wouldn’t of experienced if you did the typical American Occupation of 9-5

    Cheers To All Of You!

    Steve
    Northern CA

    • SV Delos says:

      Hey Steve- sorry it took so long to reply, we had no idea there were comments here! Thank you so much for the comment, it’s just as inspiring for us to hear from you. Wishing you all the best from Delos in Madagascar! Brian SV Delos

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