Terysa Vanderloo and Nick Fabbri of Sailing Ruby Rose: “This isn’t COVID related, but it’s equally important”

A movement away from all-inclusive style resorts where thousands of people are crammed together, often sharing dining spaces and pool areas, towards smaller guest houses and self-catering apartments where you can retain distance from other guests. As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure […]

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A movement away from all-inclusive style resorts where thousands of people are crammed together, often sharing dining spaces and pool areas, towards smaller guest houses and self-catering apartments where you can retain distance from other guests.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terysa Vanderloo and Nick Fabbri.

Sailing Ruby Rose is a YouTube channel sharing the adventures of Terysa Vanderloo and Nick Fabbri as they circumnavigate the globe aboard their yacht, Ruby Rose. While visiting exotic locations, the couple provide a valuable insight into, not only life afloat, but tiny living, minimalism, and alternative lifestyles. Nick and Terysa have an uncanny ability to show their viewers the realities of living and traveling the world by yacht, with a witty quip and cheeky smile. This fun-loving couple provide refreshingly honest, visually engaging, and genuinely entertaining content that appeals to more than just the sailing demographic.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 2015 we quit our jobs in London and moved on board our 38-foot sailboat with the intention of sailing the world. This was something we had worked towards for many years and the first few months were just as rewarding and exciting as we had hoped. However, we soon became aware of a sense that something was missing. Despite ‘living the dream’ we were not as satisfied with our lives as we should have been, and after some soul searching and many late-night discussions, we realized that the missing element to our lives was meaningful work.

We decided to start a YouTube channel to stimulate ourselves intellectually and creatively. What started as a desire for a creative project turned into a full-time business. We realized soon after publishing our first few episodes that we had something genuine to offer our viewers: an unapologetic look at the realities of life onboard, focusing on quality storytelling and imparting our knowledge and experience to others who were also hoping for a lifestyle change.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

We started the YouTube channel in February 2017 while sailing in the Caribbean and in June of the same year we sailed north to the US East Coast- Charleston to be exact. We had had comments from our rapidly expanding base of followers that they would like to meet us once we’d made landfall in the USA. We decided, with some encouragement from fellow sailing friends in the same area, to do a public ‘Meet and Greet’ event to accommodate these requests.

We chose a beautiful riverside bar and made sure a couple of our friends were planning to come, so that if no-one showed up, we wouldn’t look too silly! We expected perhaps 5 or 10 people to arrive and thought that would be a good turnout. Well, more than 50 people turned up, most with gifts for us, some of whom had driven great distances to attend. One gentleman had gotten up at 5 AM that morning to smoke us a rack of ribs using his special recipe before driving three hours from Georgia to come and meet us!

It was the first real-life contact we’d had with any of our audience and it was quite overwhelming how generous and friendly everyone was. Since then, we’ve had people recognise us everywhere from a camera shop in Adelaide, Australia to a cafe in Rhodes, Greece, and everywhere in between. We’re very grateful to our wonderful audience!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Where do I begin!? We make mistakes all the time! We look back on our early videos and it’s quite painful because we’re very self-critical and all we see are the mistakes we made during filming and editing. But obviously filmmaking is a learning process, just like any other skill set, and we’re proud of how far we’ve come in only a few years.

Unfortunately, we still make mistakes. We recently bought a new camera and we filmed with it every day for a whole week before realizing that we’d plugged the microphone into the headphone jack! So, we had absolutely no usable audio!

We were sailing on a chartered catamaran at the time, being sponsored by the charter company, and as part of the sponsorship contract we had to produce video content- so we couldn’t just scrap the footage and start again! We had to use what we had, and it took some real creativity to turn hours of footage with unbearably bad audio to entertaining, enjoyable video content.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

We’ve struggled with this ourselves. As content creators, the pressure is always on to not only publish regular content, but also to achieve better and better performance as time goes on. There is so much competition and as new creators come onto the platforms, that competition intensifies. Sometimes your content does very well- you’ll publish a video that outperforms all your other content. But the following week, when your next video only achieves an average performance, that suddenly feels like a failure. You’re constantly comparing yourselves not only to your own past performance but also others in the same field as you, and once you achieve one milestone, you immediately look to the next without stopping to congratulate yourself on your accomplishments. This is a cycle of pressure that can really affect your mental health and the issue of burnout is very real.

This happened to us quite early on. We initially grew quite quickly, gaining 25,000 YouTube subscribers in our first 6 months. However, that growth then started to level off and we started to question why we weren’t growing as quickly as we had. This led to us concluding that we were failing somehow, and we soon felt very burnt out, not just with our fledgling YouTube channel, but also balancing work and our lifestyle.

We ended up taking time away from the boat to assess what we wanted to do and how we were going to make it work from now on. Once we started our second year of YouTube, we started treating it more like a business and took a much more pragmatic approach to our work. We started a Patreon page to help with revenue and we invested in higher quality equipment. We came up with a niche that we didn’t feel had been adequately explored on YouTube, which was comprehensively reviewing sailing catamarans, with a view to upgrade from our smaller sailing boat to something faster, more spacious and better equipped for remote sailing- and we took our YouTube audience on that research journey with us.

We now look out for the early signs of stress and burnout and communicate with each other when we’re starting to feel anxious or demotivated- being able to lean on the other person helps us both hugely. We’ve also learned to take satisfaction from lots of different aspects of our job. Just because one video doesn’t perform as well as normal, that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It just means we learn from it and try to improve for next time.

We try not to get caught up in that rollercoaster and just focus on the big picture. We now have an amazing collaboration with a big catamaran manufacturer, the first of its kind in the sailing industry, and we feel very proud that we’ve come so far in only a few years. My tips would definitely be to focus on enjoying the process. If you don’t love what you do, then you’ll burn out very quickly. Content creators that ride the ups and downs successfully do so out of a genuine love and passion for their work- put that first, and everything (including ‘success’, however you measure that by) will follow. Also, there are a lot of ways to measure success. Perhaps your content did less well this week, or you’re not growing as quickly as you were 6 months ago- but you’re still doing well! You’re still earning a living, growing as a creator, learning, progressing, and sometimes when we’re feeling like we’re not performing as well as we want, that’s when we think outside the box and come up with our best ideas.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

We, like many fellow content creators, gain a lot of inspiration from others in our field. They’re our competitors of course, but they’re also our peers and, in many cases, our friends. We have worked hard and spent a lot of time educating ourselves and investing time in improving our skills and knowledge base, and we have passion for what we do which is essential for success. However, there is one couple who helped us hugely when we were about to start our third year of YouTube. They have a YouTube channel which is one of the most successful in our sailing niche- Gone with the Wynns. We had been a big fan for a long time, before we’d ever thought of starting a YouTube channel ourselves. They are professional photographers and have been in the influencer business for a long time. The quality of their videos is unrivalled amongst sailing YouTube channels, and they do it all as a team of two- it’s very, very impressive.

When we started our research journey into moving to a catamaran, they reached out and invited us to spend a week onboard their 43FT catamaran in Tahiti. It’s possible they were just being polite, but we actually took them up on it! We had never met before and we had just had a very small amount of online contact, but luckily, we all got along really well. Importantly, they not only put up with us filming non-stop while we were there, but they gave us a lot of advice and shared their experience and knowledge with us (we were really quite amateurish at the time!).

They could not have been more generous with their time and sharing their advice, and since then they’ve always been quick to help us out with contacts in the industry or tidbits of information. When it came time to publish the episodes we had filmed, the collaboration proved incredibly popular and it really boosted our viewings and subscriber base. We’re still very close friends.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

We are currently in a partnership with Seawind Catamarans, an Australian catamaran manufacturer that specializes in performance, quality, and customer service. They have three catamarans in their line-up already, and we are collaborating on introducing a fourth: a 45-foot performance cruising catamaran, perfect for live-aboard couples, called the Seawind 1370. There is a huge demand for performance catamarans within that size range, as most manufacturers focus on 50–55-foot models which obviously come with a huge- and for most people, unrealistic- price tag. Seawind approached us early in the process and asked us if we wanted to collaborate on this project- and obviously we jumped at the chance!

We absolutely loved their other catamarans, but they were either too small for remote cruising, or too big and expensive. When they said a 45-foot design was on the drawing board, we immediately knew that it would be a perfect fit not just for us, but for the wider market.

We combined our experience as live-aboard cruisers and our extensive knowledge of the catamaran market to come up with features that would, in conjunction with the innovative work done by the naval architect, create the best performance based sub-50-foot cruising catamaran on the market. This partnership between a catamaran manufacturer and a YouTube sailing couple is the first of its kind and the product we’ve jointly created has already proven hugely popular, with 50 boats sold off-plan within the first few months of announcing the model. Our own boat, Ruby Rose 2, will be launched late 2021 and we plan to showcase the many benefits of the 1370 by sailing her around the world, filming as we go.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

There are a huge number of people who want to live on a boat, but do not want to give up all the conveniences of living in a house. These people also want the boat to sail fast and perform well, and also be a high-quality luxurious product, without the absurdly high price point.

Until now, the only options have been ‘production catamarans’, built to a lower price point with the build quality to match; a couple of performance catamarans of 45 foot, with very limited interior space, which means less onboard comfort and convenience; or catamarans over 50 foot which may be spacious and perform well, but are also out of most people’s budget. The 1370 falls right in the sweet spot: high quality build, fast and comfortable performance, and has enough internal volume to feel less like a small boat and more like a spacious home.

It’s manufactured in Vietnam, along with the rest of the Seawind line-up, and so the quality remains exceptionally high while the build cost remains lower than average- therefore the final price represents excellent value for money and because of the demand for the 1370 (there is currently a 5 year wait time), used models will retain their value extremely well. There genuinely is not any other boat quite like it on the market, and the exceptional demand for the 1370 proves that this really does fill a gap that had previously been left empty by other manufacturers.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

There has been a huge surge this year in the price of used boats and the demand for new boats- quite exceptional, given the global economic situation. People are reassessing their priorities and choosing not to wait, but to make that lifestyle change now. The demand for the 1370 has exceeded everybody’s expectations by a considerable margin and Seawind is now working hard on scaling up production to keep up with demand. It has proven, beyond doubt, that collaborating with influencers within the sailing market can be hugely beneficial for all involved.

Without considering our influence, Seawind had originally estimated approximately two dozen boats sold between announcing the new model and launching the first boat. That has been exceeded many times over already- and this is in a year where the usual methods of marketing, namely boat shows, have not been an option due to COVID. In fact, the only marketing that was done for the 1370 was a YouTube video by Seawind, their newsletter and a single video we published to our YouTube channel. This led to 30 boats being sold in the first week, and Seawind are now up to hull #50. It’s worth reiterating that no-one has even set foot on this boat yet, because the first hull hasn’t even been built!

We already know that other manufacturers are now clamouring to collaborate with our fellow YouTubers. We believe that not only have we disrupted the status quo by introducing a product that has proven immensely popular, but the way in which that product was marketed- by using influencers and digital marketing, rather than traditional methods- will be a game changer for the future of the boat market.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

1- A movement away from all-inclusive style resorts where thousands of people are crammed together, often sharing dining spaces and pool areas, towards smaller guest houses and self-catering apartments where you can retain distance from other guests.

2- A movement away from cruise ships, for the same reason. Several of the early COVID outbreaks took place on cruise ships, and we believe it will be very difficult for cruise ship companies to overcome that negative association. Also, with rapidly increasing public concern about climate change, environmentally unfriendly methods of vacationing, such as cruise ships, will become increasingly unpopular.

3- A movement towards holidays that do not require much contact with other travellers, such as chartering yachts and sailing boats. These are brilliant holidays for sailing enthusiasts as you can either hire a skipper, so you can totally relax, or, if you have the qualifications, hire the boat as a ‘bareboat’ and go on your own adventure.

4- COVID has quickened the inevitable: an increased reliance on online companies and less footfall in physical stores. People who have historically been more comfortable booking through their local travel agents will realize that they’ve been doing everything else online recently- booking holidays isn’t any different! A sharp shift towards online booking companies will take place, with those companies who embrace and invest in online solutions faring better than those who do not.

5- This isn’t COVID related, but it’s equally important: people are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact many forms of travel have, such as flights and cruise ships, and are looking for alternatives with a lower carbon footprint. Carbon off-setting is one important factor, but many travellers will be looking for more sustainable travel options. That may be traveling by train, traveling by sailboat, or traveling close to home rather than taking long-haul flights.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

We love exploring different cultures and supporting small businesses. We don’t want glitz and glamour- we want meaningful experiences with the locals, and this is usually best done in a small family-run guesthouse and by eating at family run restaurants.

We love walking around new places as a way to immerse ourselves in the country, and although we do attend some ‘tourist sights’, we get most satisfaction from making new friends with the locals and seeing the destination through their eyes.

One example was when we were in Bangkok last year. It was Loi Krathong, a yearly festival where many Thais give thanks to the Goddess of Water. We wanted to get involved but we didn’t want to join the local events put on purely for the tourists as we didn’t feel it would be an authentic experience. We were very lucky to befriend our wonderful guesthouse host, who took us out with a group of his friends, and as such we experienced the festival just like any Thai person would rather than paying for an event designed to entertain tourists. This is our perfect vacation experience!

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We have had so much feedback over the years from our followers and audience who have been inspired by us to make a change to their lifestyles. Many people yearn to live more authentically but aren’t sure how to break free of their current situation- people have jobs, families, mortgages, friends, and community ties that aren’t easy to break. And yet- something is missing, and many people feel that there could be a better way.

We don’t gloss over the challenges of our lifestyle in our videos- in fact, we often focus on the obstacles and the less glamorous aspects of life onboard. We also create a lot of content that is purely informative- our catamaran reviews were one example, and they were hugely popular, which proves how hungry people are for unbiased and thorough boat reviews, but we also create a lot of technical videos that range in topic from how to service your outboard engine, to how to properly set your sails. We have had a lot of people credit us for their decision to take up sailing as a hobby, or even buy and move onto a boat and join the wonderful cruising community. More people living a life that feels authentic to them, connecting with nature, exploring different countries and cultures, and lessening their carbon footprint by living on a self-sufficient boat, can only be a good thing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Sailing, unfortunately, is notoriously un-diverse. We would love for the sailing community to be more proactive in encouraging many different people from all walks of life to the joys of sailing. We showcase the benefits (and challenges of course!) of our chosen lifestyle and our passion for the ocean and living on a boat comes across to our viewers- we love that people who hadn’t necessarily considered that boat life might be a great option for them, are now making that change in their lives and the more this happens, the more diverse and inclusive the sailing community will become.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Our YouTube channel is called Sailing Ruby Rose, and we’re at @sailingrubyrose on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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