Title photograph : Dart river UK (Nigel Irens design)
I recently joined one of the Facebook sailing groups and now regularly post a boat picture and a relevant link in my own blog. A few days ago there was a little bit of a polite tiff about a post, which i commented on, about one of the popular sailing video ‘vlog’s’ and which i heartily dislike. In this post i thought i would take the time to talk about some of the popular sailing vlogs and the far less popular ones not based on video and youtube.
I think it was Dr Jordan Petersen who said recently that Youtube is the new Gutenberg press and that anyone with even the most basic equipment can film and edit their own work and put it in the public domain. In the wider world of video and youtube it is now the you-tubers rather than the mainstream media that is getting all of the views and attention and the mainstream media are only just waking up to the fact that they are becoming largely irrelevant. I of course come from the pre-digital age, the dinosaur epoch of photo-journalism and the written word. To me books, writing and good photography tell a story albeit often a static one or, if you will, capture a frozen moment in time. Well, times have changed, i grew up with books and writing and learnt formal photography with cameras that actually used film, manual focus SLR’s and hours of work in the darkroom. Ok, so today i have at least dragged myself along to the DSLR and the basic tools of photoshop to crop and straighten-up my work…..but i have never made the successful jump to video. Perhaps video is a more natural tool of a younger generation given the proliferation of ‘smart’ phones and cheap video cameras.
Most of my major sailing was also done before the easy video years and really just at the early transition to digital photography….i for one destroyed one electronic and digital SLR just by having it aboard a boat. During the years when i was ocean racing and ocean sailing film camera’s were bulky, expensive , delicate and none of them liked salty air. Today a cheap video camera is almost a disposable tool like a Bic razor.
With this blog i have gradually learned to write acceptably well and to capture images well enough to tell the story that i am trying to put across. I have always thought though that even my writing/photograph blog also needs video clips at the right time. Last year for example when i got harrassed by a bunch of bell-ends on jetski’s that would have been far more effective than a single picture of the yobs disappearing into the distance….equally my sailing at the start of this season, a blizzard in Lyme bay, would have had a southern ocean quality to it. An answer to one question in the sailing Fb page that relates to this post is yes i have filmed, edited and produced short video clips but with only a poor product….’not good enough’ in my own words. Where i am going with this by the way is having another try at setting myself up to do video work to enhance the blog. I will talk about the actual plans in a final update post before i shut down DWD for a while.
So today what i want to do is highlight some of the better video/youtube based channels and try to explain why i like them and dislike others. The first point i want to make is about being able to relate or not to be able to relate to the people , the sailing or the situation. Although now i run a small boat on a micro budget, a wing and a prayer i have in the past been an ocean sailor, been around the Horn 3 times and so on which i why i can relate well to the experience of the ‘Sea Gypsies’ in this first clip. When people ask me today what the southern ocean is ‘like’ this is the kind of clip i send them. Of course it isn’t the whole story and just recently i was bemoaning the ultra-tame world of inland boating with their obligatory cute duckling clips…..look mate i’ve had an albatross gliding in the wake behind us for days down in the southern ocean !
So i can relate to high adventure……but i also relate well to situations much like mine own where it’s usually a young guy or a middle aged bloke who finds a very basic sailboat and spends a couple of years of mainly effort in rebuilding and refitting and then going off on a big old adventure….or even just having micro-adventures. In this category i am going to highlight 3 you-tubers starting with the first one that i came across and is still the one that inspired me to try and get on the water again with a small unpretentious boat : Dylan Winter and ‘Keep turning left’. I think i only discovered Dylan and KTL when he was several years into his small boat voyage just around the UK in one of the worst small sailing boats imaginable. The first films just show him trying to prep the boat and his nervousness about his first solo coastal passages but those early films also have real charm and energy too. Now, Dylan is clearly a very competent and capable film-maker : it’s what he does for a living, but his combination of an admittedly crap boat and the concept of exploring the UK coast is pure genius. So, if my first point is that i appreciate sailing and situations that i can relate to then my second is to when the film-maker shows me something i haven’t seen before. In Dylan’s case it came later on with his exploration of shallow areas of the east coast…..Norfolk for example.
In a similar vein to Dylan is a local guy who i only met just recently when i chased him up the Tamar aboard my project Gaffer. I recognised the boat or at least the rig as being ‘Arwen’ and its owner/vlogger Plymouthwelshboy. Now, Steve built that boat in his garage and then set out to film the experience of dinghy cruising in the same area as where i live and sail. His recent film clips which cover the Tamar really show my local river at it’s best….and a far better effort than my own attempts at video. I don’t think it gets more genuine than building your own boat, however small, and getting out there.
My next 2 mentions go to 2 quite different channels but which have a similar kind of theme and eventual aim : that of refitting a very basic boat on a very small budget and then going large with the actual adventure : The sailing Frenchman and Roger Taylor with Mingming. Roger Taylor’s high arctic adventures started with an unlikely boat, the 21 foot Corribee, and continued with the total rebuild of another unlikely boat : a 24 foot Achilles. Ok, so here what i appreciate is that Roger Taylor took 2 years to completely rebuild and refit an old bare-bones cruiser-racer and turn it into a solo ocean going voyaging boat. His series of film posts inspired me to write an entire series about micro-cruisers and the ‘art of the possible’ with small boats and big oceans. Similarly the ‘sailing Frenchman’ bought a very run down 70’s IOR quarter tonner, had it trucked to a forest clearing and spent 2 years totally rebuilding it while living in a hut in the same forest. Both channels show the quite literal mess and grind of rebuilding old GRP boats and the reward that comes with sacrifice of time and effort.
I have saved the absolute best until last.
It was only this year when my youtube recommendations list came up with yet another sailing youtube channel and i ignored it for a while. When i did take the time to watch that first one i then sat at the computer for several hours watching video after video. Before i get into why i think this channel is so good i first want to explain why i ignored it at first. The channel is ‘Free Range sailing’ and the clip was titled “The nude latitude’ and what i thought was that this was just another clickbait channel using a bit of cheap nudity to capture an audience. That impression unfortunately does actually come from several video’s from the most popular channels where its usually a skimpy bikini on a young female crewmember that is the obvious and rather predictable bait. However here is the actual clip and it’s really good.
I feel the need to explain why i think that this is such a great channel so : firstly that my earlier points still apply but that this channel then takes it all up several notches by taking me to somewhere i will probably never get to myself and showing me stuff that i have never seen before or never seen done as well as these guys do it.
Troy is clearly a very capable marine engineer and very good at showing/explaining quite complex and difficult mechanical and electrical repairs. Secondly he is a very good fisherman and excels at showing something as simple as the anatomy of a Tuna and how to go about fishing for the table. Add to that the fact that he is a very good sailor and runs/repairs a very basic boat and it’s a powerful combination. Pascale, his partner in the voyage is clearly the expert provisioner and sea-going cook who turns out really delicious food from their own fishing and foraging. They both bring a sense of fun and enthusiasm to the whole deal even when they are having to thrash upwind for days on end…..no emotional meltdowns here when the going gets tough.
At the end of today’s post and in a kind of conclusion i want to finish by answering a couple of points of criticism from the relevant FB sailing page. First that yes, i have filmed and produced video myself but with only a very poor result : i would give myself at best a 2 out of ten for effort !. I do appreciate the effort that goes into the filming and editing. However secondly i would say that i am also a content provider albeit with a different format and i am trying to create positive and useful internet content rather than being a ‘one-line’ troll commentator on social media. I happen to think that FB is a poor platform for expressing nuanced opinion…..although Twitter is much worse because the very medium tends to encourage very short, and in my opinion, very polarised opinions. A post like this one takes me about half a day to initially write and then a couple of sessions of editing just to take out my usual grammatical errors and even then i often haven’t said everything that i set out to do. In conclusion i would much rather be thought of and remembered as somebody who brought really good work to your attention, gave it due praise and so on rather than for a single line negative comment on social media.