An Interview with with Riley and Elayna of Sailing La Vagabonde

Author:
Publish date:
Elayna and Riley in Panama

The couple puts their new boat through its paces

Australian sailors Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu are known around the world, thanks to their social media accounts and YouTube channel, Sailing La Vagabonde, in which they document their experiences afloat—at the same time using the power of crowdfunding to help cover their costs. They recently decided to make the switch from a monohull to a catamaran.

MHS:How did you come to discover sailing?

Riley: I’ve always loved the water and enjoyed camping, so I was pretty confident I would enjoy sailing. I was planning to purchase a boat once I had saved up enough money from my work on oil rigs as a rigger/dogman. When I finally bought La Vagabonde, a 2007 Beneteau Cyclades, I was trying to learn as I went. It was a pretty steep learning curve—to the point where when I unfurled the headsail for the first time I actually didn’t know to furl it back in.

Elayna: I grew up in a tiny town in Western Australia on the beach, which meant I spent a lot of time in and on the ocean growing up. I spent weekends fishing with my step-dad in his dinghy, and we learned to sail on little 10ft yachts in school. So I guess I had a tiny bit of a clue what boats were all about.

Elayna and Riley in Panama

Elayna and Riley in Panama

MHS:How did you meet?

Elayna: It was June of 2014. I was working for a travel company, playing music on the Greek Island of Ios. We met by chance in the main square, got chatting, exchanged numbers and spent the next few days sailing La Vagabonde around the island. A strong relationship developed over the next few weeks, and before we knew it, we were leaving the island for good, to attempt to sail around the world.

MHS:Where have you sailed thus far and what are your future plans?

Elayna: We have sailed through the Mediterranean, crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Panama Canal, and gone across the Pacific and around the Pacific islands to New Zealand. Riley singlehanded the trip from Tonga to New Zealand, something he has always wanted to experience. We aren’t big on planning ahead, but we have been talking about Europe for the summer of 2017, the Caribbean for Christmas and then heading to the United States in 2018. We regularly change our minds though, so don’t hold us to that!

MHS:How did you come up with the model to fund your cruising lifestyle and how does it work?

Riley: We can’t take credit for the model, it happened organically, really. I had a good camera laying around and Elayna had a history of making short videos to keep as memories of her travels. What was intended for friends and family suddenly had people from all over the world asking for more regular content. When we ran out of money and hauled out the boat to go back to work, viewers suggested we setup a crowdfunding website. We were hesitant at first but began to realize that people just wanted the opportunity to thank us for sharing this unique experience. In return, we try our best to include them in as much of this crazy crowdfunding supported video production as possible. 

MHS:You just got a new boat; how has the transition from a monohull to a multihull been for you so far?

Elayna: We just recently moved into our boat, an Outremer 45. It has been really exciting after living aboard a monohull for almost four years. The most noticeable difference is the overall comfort and space.

MHS:What advice would you give newbie sailors when it comes to passagemaking?

Riley: That depends on how foolhardy they are. I guess if they’re like me then I would say slow down, ask around, research on the internet, watch some videos. It’s not easy. Understandably, most people are hesitant. But I would say that with minimal planning and a seaworthy boat you can get there. 

Check out their YouTube page, Sailing La Vagabonde here

MHS: Summer 2017

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more