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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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/