SV Delos, much more than fun in the Pacific
“Another interesting bluewater cruising boat smartly visiting Camden in October,” I thought to myself, “but what’s up with that giant VSAT dome?” Yes, I failed to recognize one of the world’s most famous cruising boats until I ran into an excited passenger schooner captain/friend waiting for the Delos crew to come ashore. But many more boaters than I probably also envision Delos perpetually adventuring to exotic Pacific locales; for example, check this 2014 Episode #22 video that’s drawn 4.3 million YouTube views.
In fact, the SV Delos story began in 2008, and by 2010’s Episode #1, the youthful crew had figured out that documenting their cruising exploits could help pay the bills. Thus they arguably trailblazed the rich world of serial online cruising videos we have today, and a nice thing I’d noticed a while back is how well they mix solid how-to technical information into the overall fun-in-sun travelogue. So once I realized that this Delos was that Delos, I talked my way aboard and learned more about how the story has evolved.
Actually, I’m now a tiny part of the Delos story — as shown in the Episode 305 screenshot above — as is Capt. Ramiro, Curtis Island, and many other Camden highlights. Note how much the SV Delos video technology and storytelling skills have improved over the years. And also how quickly a crew member can grab a camera when something of possible interest happens, like an unknown old guy suddenly coming alongside with just-caught lobsters. (Which also turned out to be an effective preamble to requesting an interview.)
Also documented in SV Delos Episode 305 is how Maine in October can be spectacular on many days, a cold wet nor’easter on others. And of course it happened to be about the worst of the latter when I struggled the few hundred yards out to the boat’s rented Inner Harbor float. But what a good way to experience how Delos has become such a comfortable all-climate family cruiser.
For one thing, a diesel-burning Webasto hydronic heating system — much like what I installed on Gizmo in 2017 — was quietly keeping the boat toasty. But what really got my attention was how casually Brian and Karin were using all sorts of electric galley appliances, even an induction cooktop. I’d always looked down at electric cooking as a noisy powerboat-with-generator thing, but it turns out that Delos went the other way, happily dumping their propane stove when they installed a lithium battery system. And as with so many things Delos, there’s an informative video: Hello LITHIUM, Goodbye Propane!!!
Moreover, Brian and his brother Brady put together a video series answering questions about this and other Delos electrics. Note also that the boat is a testbed for Battle Born Batteries, which even markets related system bundles.
Another valuable Delos YouTube playlist is called How to Keep a Sailboat Ship Shape — Boat Bits with Brian, and I particularly recommend his 2017 electronics redo explanation. This is the video that made me realize the brainpower behind SV Delos, though it should have been obvious in the first place. No one sails 70,000 miles without a lot of skills, even if it looked like a party much of the time. Plus Brian — once a Microsoft software analyst — is particularly good at explaining the many improvements they’ve made on an already great Amels Super Maramu cruising design (note, for instance, how neatly that whole electronics cabinet slides out).
Sometimes the how-to content is part of SV Delos weekly video episodes, the ViaSat installation a good example (with some good added detail by Sea-Tech Systems here). And if you’re curious about how cruising vlogs have worked out as a business for Delos and others, YW’s crack journalist Elaine Bunting nailed down some numbers in 2019 that might make a lot of other boating content creators wince, myself included.
But mostly I’m fascinated by the relatively new world of boating YouTube and Patreon stars, and quite aware that doing it well is serious work requiring many skills beyond even serious cruising. For instance, consider the bit in SV Delos #291 when Brian launches a drone while motoring north through the C&D canal and Karin spots a fan waving from shore, who becomes part of the drone footage and eventually the edited story. And, mind you, the couple is simultaneously taking care of their precious toddler daughter, who is also shared in their ongoing story, but, like all their lives, not overshared (in my opinion).
Obviously I’m a fan, especially now that I’ve met the mom and dad of the Delos crew. And I keep track of where they are via Facebook and Marine Traffic, since they’ve created a nice cushion between their actual cruising and those weekly video deadlines. But there are now lots of other boating stories out there, and I’m curious about which ones Panbo readers enjoy for fun, informative, or both?