Brian Trautman spent years working 60-hour weeks as a software engineer at companies like Microsoft. Eventually, he realized that the best part of his day was the bus ride to and from work. On one of those rides, Trautman decided he needed to make a change.
In May 2008, after two years of saving as much as possible, he sold all of his possessions, including a three-bedroom townhouse in Redmond, Washington and embarked on a two-year sabbatical to sail the world.
“[I thought to myself] after two years, I’m going to be ready to come back and know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I just never came back,” Trautman tells CNBC Make It.
Trautman purchased a 53-foot sailboat called the SV Delos for $398,000 with a $81,000 down payment. It has three cabins and two bathrooms. He made his final payment on the boat in 2019.
When Trautman set sail, he had two years of savings, or about $48,000. It ran out three different times, he says. He maxed out his credit cards, cashed out his 401K and took odd jobs while traveling the world to survive, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.
Then, in 2011, while docked in New Zealand, he met his now wife, Karin. The two started filming their adventures on the boat together and launched their YouTube Channel, Sailing SV Delos.
“It was not supposed to be a full-time job. It was just going to sustain us and help fund the trip a little bit. And now it’s all we do,” Trautman says.
The couple uses the money they make from their YouTube channel and crowdfunding to sustain their lifestyle.
The sailboat has a cabin in the back that serves as Trautman’s and his wife’s bedroom, a cabin in the front of the vessel for his daughter, and a third cabin for guests The boat also has a kitchen area with a convection oven, dishwasher and toaster.
“We have many modern appliances and conveniences that you might find in your own house. Everything’s just kind of on a smaller scale,” Trautman says.
Though the SV Delos boasts three refrigerators that allows the family to store a lot of meat or fish, a big problem is fresh fruit and vegetables. The couple can only keep enough to last a few weeks before they have to go back to land for more. Which is a lot harder than it seems.
“We live and die by the weather out here, so the weather determines everything we do,” Trautman says. “This life is often uncomfortable. It’s way more work than living in a house.”
During a typical shopping trip in town, the couple spent about $500 on groceries that should last them between several weeks and months, depending on what’s perishable and what’s not. In addition to groceries, the couple spends about $1,900 a month on boat insurance, maintenance, fuel and utilities. They also pay $250 a month for satellite Wi-Fi.
Since he started traveling the world by boat, Trautman has visited over 45 countries and has racked up 70,000 ocean miles.
The couple briefly moved back to living on land when Karin was seven months pregnant. They moved to Sweden, where Karin’s family lives and where Sierra was born. When Sierra turned four months old, the now family of three returned to life on the sailboat.
“It was a huge change to our lifestyle, but very rewarding. We can sit on the back of the boat and see the sharks, the rays, the puffer fish, the dolphins and whales,” Trautman said. “She’s able to see all these things for real instead of just in a book.”
To stay connected with their family members on land, Trautman says they have their loved ones visit them when they are docked. For example, his parents came to see them in the Caribbean and Karin’s family visited them in the Philippines.
Now that Sierra is four-years-old, Trautman says they plan on staying in French Polynesia for the next year, but are considering moving back to Sweden full-time so their daughter can grow up around Karin’s culture and family.
“This trip changed my DNA at the core where I’m a different person than I was when I started,” Trautman says. “I have a different view on priorities and what’s important in my life. The time that I have to spend with friends and family and loved ones is what matters.”
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