Home / Funny / Viral / This Family Has Lived On a Self-Sufficient Sailboat For 10 Years


This small family is living the dream on a self-sufficient sailboat, and they have been travelling the globe for 10 years.

People have many different ideas as to the perfect off-the-grid lifestyle. Some think it's merely getting their home fitted with solar panels and a large drum to collect water. Others consider living in a cabin in the woods and hunting for their own food.

This family, however, have a different idea. Sailing the SV Delos, Brian and Karin Trautman have been living on their boat for 10 years, but they don't just harbour-hop along the coastline, they are at sea for months at a time. You see, the Trautman's, along with the new addition to the family, Sierra, have turned their yacht into a floating paradise that can sustain itself for up to six months.

10 years ago, Brian devised a four-year plan to leave his job as a software engineer in Flagstaff, Arizona, sell up everything and buy this boat. He had no sailing experience but read lots of books and blogs to learn from during the transition. Eventually, with the plan executed, he set sail for New Zealand on an 18-month journey.

Originally from Sweden, Karin was studying landscape architecture in Australia when she decided to go on a backpacking trip to New Zealand. This is where they met, and their journey began. Brian asked her to go sailing for the weekend, and she never left.

Since that fateful weekend nearly a decade ago, Brian and Karin have sailed Delos over 83,000 nautical miles – that's the equivalent of circling the Earth at the equator over three times. They've visited six out of the seven continents and through every major ocean in the world.

The SV Dalos is a 53-foot sloop rig ketch sailboat, which means it has two masts, a traditional mainmast, and a smaller one, the mizzenmast, at the rear in front of the rudderpost.

Over the years, the Trautman's have modified their yacht with solar power and wind turbines that power almost everything. This includes onboard freezers and a broadband internet connection from their gimble-dome satellite dish. They've also motorised their sails, which can be operated from the sheltered cockpit, and have a variety of navigation units onboard too.

Living on a boat can be tricky, but Brian and Karin have it figured out. The tiny kitchen is fully kitted, with an oven that is also on a gimbal-system. This allows it to swing with the movement of the ocean. They also have a fridge and washing machine, and working sink for washing up. Even Sierra's baby chair is secured so she can sit on the counter while the adults cook.

The two bathrooms are quite similar, both tiny with a shower and working toilet. The latter has two modes; one that sends waste to a holding tank for when they're in and around a harbour, and the other that opens into the sea when they're far from shore.

There is space for six adults to sleep, with the main bedroom housing a double bed, and the front room containing couches that convert into sleeping quarters.

There is a plethora of packing space, from freezers under the dining room seats to space under the main bed for spare bedding and winter clothing when it's not required.

In the engine room sits a large fuel tank that feeds the onboard diesel engine. Because they use wind-power 90% of the time, the 600-litres of fuel lasts up to four months. Down here, there is also an 8kW diesel generator that acts as a backup if the solar and wind power isn't enough, and a hot water heater for showering and washing up. There is also a desalinator, which converts the salty seawater into drinking water, and a compressor that they use to fill up their scuba bottles.

By now, you're probably wondering what they do to make money or if they're just millionaires. Well, the easy answer is YouTube. They make ad revenue, as well as contributions from Patron for the videos they produce of their global exploits. Brian has installed a server onboard and, with their satellite link to the internet, they're always connected.

They also have a full suite of medicine and rescue equipment that can keep six people alive for six days should the SV Delos capsize. There's so much more to boat-living than meets the eye.

So, what's next for this adventurous couple and their self-sufficient sailboat? After sailing the tropics for several years, they're installing a heater and heading to Greenland to explore the Arctic.

Check out the video below to see what it's like to get off the grid and live on a self-sufficient sailboat!

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