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Sailing The Dream

Sailing The Dream

A young Aussie couple are making their dream of sailing the high seas a reality on a shoestring budget. Will you dare to do the same?

Ever thought of casting off, and setting sail on the high seas, or leaving behind south-east Queensland and 9-5 work, and becoming a full-time cruiser? Many people who love sailing or boating have thought of it. But relatively few of us turn that dream into a reality, especially when we are young. Work, children and life, and the need to save for our retirement get in the way.

Well, one young Aussie couple are a living embodiment of how you can do just about anything, if you set on your mind to it. Of course, talent does help, including being social-media savvy and having a lovely, ingenious and positive approach to life that people can relate to.

Riley Whitlum and Elayna Carausu are from South Australia and Western Australia, respectively. If those names ring a bell, it could be because they are becoming famous among the boating fraternity for their exploits. Their Youtube channel, “Sailing La Vagabonde“, already has 367,000 followers.

Shortly after the couple met, and Elayna joined Riley on his boat in Greece in 2014, the two novice cruisers have been filming their adventures as they have crossed the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific Ocean. During those 41,000nm, Riley and Elayna have suffered “terrifying storms, pirate scares, financial breakdowns, equipment failures, water shortages, and other interesting mishaps”. And anyone and everyone who has wanted to experience their adventure has been along for the ride, feeling part of the crew as the couple tackle everything with fun and enjoyment.

Part of their appeal is that Riley and Elayna are novices and share their learning curve with their followers as equals. They are about as far from experts “preaching” as you can get.

Home in Australia at Christmas last year to see family, the couple seized the opportunity to conduct several meet-and-greets, including one at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron of Manly, which was a sell-out. Fans travelled from as far as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast to meet them and the queue to say hello to them afterwards stretched almost out the door.

Talking about the start of their Youtube channel, Riley recalled how Elayna posted the first video for fun for family and friends, and he was not too keen initially. However, after it went viral, he became as enthusiastic as she was. Then, someone suggested inviting followers to donate via the Patreon crowdfunding website. And the rest – as they say – is history.

Today, each video raises up to $4000, and Riley and Elayna have increased video production to one a week. This income has let them continue their cruising, and allowed them to upgrade from the original Beneteau Cyclades monohull to a new Outremer 45 blue-water sailing catamaran.

Elayna said that an upside is that the need to film interesting footage means they have to stay very adventurous, pushing themselves that little bit harder to try new things. The downside is that filming and editing keep them extremely busy. The videos are Elayna’s brainchild, so most of the editing work falls on her. She spends many hours a day at the computer keyboard, which can be hard to do when you are in some exotic location – when snorkelling and exploring or just a snooze on the foredeck beckon. They also have a website, and Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts that need to be regularly updated.

Not surprisingly, their journey and ability to generate an income as they go is already inspiring others to do the same. As one person commented on their website, “I am really passionate about photography and video, so if we can turn it into a viable secondary income, why not?”.

But before you decide to follow in their wake, be warned. There are a couple of other ingredients in their recipe for success, which not all of us can replicate. Not only does Elayna have a lovely singing voice and play the guitar, but, as one follower commented on their website, “They are also both ridiculously good looking!”


By Caroline Strainig