Brian and Karen, Drake Paragon, Jamie and Liz, Dan and Kika, Nike, Barry, Johan and Malin, Troy and Pascale, Shaun and Julia, Dylan Winter. These names, and the fact that this is a sailing blog, the chances are high that you will know who these people are, or have watched some of their YouTube videos. Yes, they are the people that appear in Sailing channels and are some of the ones that we watch on a regular basis. Of course there are others, lots and lots of others, and you are probably thinking to yourself, where is La Vagabond, Wicked Salty, etc etc? There are literally so many sailing channels out there at the moment, it is impossible to watch them all. Instead we follow just a few and these are mainly ones that we have been watching for a while and have grown attached too. It’s quite interesting how a few years ago there wasn’t all that many uploading their sailing videos on a regular basis, but now it’s grown really big. Surely they have reached market saturation by now, and surely there can’t be enough people in the sailing community to support them. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2019.
Four or five years ago there was only basically SV Delos and La Vagabond, these were the pioneers and set the scene for what was to come. Then a few others jumped aboard, such as White Spot Pirates and Sailing Uma. The quality five years ago wasn’t anywhere near as good as it is today, and some of this can be attributed to the quality of the camera equipment. The technology just keeps improving in leaps and bounds as it always does, but also, with the advent of Patreon, the funding they get allows them to buy better equipment. Apart from Delos and Vagabond, who have such a huge following, and consequently can make a bit of money out of this, most of the sailing channels make barely enough money to cover their camera equipment. They certainly aren’t able to fund their cruising lifestyle that way.
It is the success of Delos and Vagabond that have led to so many others trying to cash in and become fulltime cruisers and have their expenses paid by their patrons. As anybody who has the slightest experience in boats, knows, the costs of running a boat can be huge, maintenance, fixing, marinas, insurance etc etc, not to mention the cost of partying full time in the Bahamas. Which is what a lot of the sailing channels are based on. Not all of course, some channels such as Sailing Life are just one big boat fix up, some are just sailing and some are literally bikini clad girls jumping about. Once a lot of these run out of money, their cruising lifestyle will end up on the rocks and I think the attrition rate is going to be quite high.
It’s a real copy-cat thing too. All the channels seem to be following each other and have become very similar. Some of the characteristics are: chill music, drone shots, the bloopers at the end. Another trend is the cross-pollenating, it’s not uncommon for the vloggers to appear in each other’s videos, especially those in the Caribbean. Will they last in the current format, or will they have to evolve? That’s the age old question. People like consistency and things to be the same. Delos have already been criticised for dropping the Ramukanji theme music from their latest season. Disney recognised this a long time ago as did the entire Hollywood industry and hence not very many original movies get made. Most are variations on a theme, or remakes of old classics. Radio station playlists are a good example of this also, with the most popular stations having very limited playlists, because people like listening to songs they know. They don’t like new things, or things that they have to work out. Sailing channel audiences are probably no different and woe betide anyone who steps outside the standard paradigm. Dylan Winter from Keep Turning Left, is one who is playing about with the format but then he doesn’t have as much to lose as some of the really big players. Also, Dylan was or is, a professional broadcaster, so he understands the medium, and understands what works and what doesn’t work. Presently he has dispensed with the music altogether and just has commentary along with the natural sounds of the surrounding areas. Personally, I think the sounds of the water, waves and wind, as well as the bird life is a lot nicer and more relaxing than chill music. The issues surrounding copyright music and YouTube publishing are in part to do with this, and the necessity to pay royalties for using music. Shawn and Julia Sailing have covers of Bob Marley and other popular artists, so they must be paying for that somewhere along the line. Delos and Vagabond apart, the biggest hero of the whole sailing channel phenomenon must be Kevin MacLeod – who produces royalty free music on Incompetech.com. Kevin has had his work used on over 100,000 YouTube videos, not just the Sailing Channels.
Another sailing channel irony is that some of the more popular channels are not just bikini clad party people in the Caribbean on forty something foot yachts. Andy Miller from Boatworks Today is really popular, his videos are basically a how-to in fibreglassing techniques. I guess people need to know how to fix their boats. Dylan, whom I have already mentioned, does really interesting videos also, especially in interesting parts of the plant such as the coastal waterways around Scotland. But then his target audience are MOB’s, as he calls them. Mostly Old Blokes. Who also spend a lot of their YouTube viewing time looking old battleships, vintage motorcycles etc etc. Don’t underestimate the MOBs as a demographic, they have a high disposable income!
I suppose, dear reader, you are probably asking yourself about Seagull Dreaming. The webpage has a video screen proudly proclaiming that Seagull Dreaming is now a YouTube channel. I can’t get the link to work from WordPress, and if you go to YouTube, you will find that there is only one video of a daysail on Brisbane Water from a couple of years ago. The truth is that I don’t think a video of my adventures would be exciting enough to actually get many viewers. I certainly couldn’t manage a 15 minute video each week. It’s sometimes a struggle to get a blog out every month, and realistically, it should be on a more regular basis. Hence this blog is a ramble about sailing channels. Will the next blog be more interesting and entertaining? Find out next time!