For Chris and Jolene Knapp, it all started with relatives in Oregon. The couple wanted to keep their family members up-to-date about life with their three boys in Texas, so they started making videos to share.
“We had a small little cabin cruiser, and we would stay weekends on different lakes all throughout Texas, where we’re from,” Jolene says.
Today, the family is known as the Wandering Knapps, which is the name of the YouTube channel Chris and Jolene created. After about two and a half years, the channel has about 8,500 subscribers who watch their liveaboard life unfurl aboard a 1987 47-foot Marine Trader Tradewinds trawler. Chris and Jolene have posted close to 200 videos so far, as well as built a companion website, Facebook page and Patreon account where fans can become subscribers for $10 to $50 a month, receiving increasing levels of benefits. Sometimes, fans will send Chris and Jolene gifts from their Amazon Wish List. Other times, fans will send cash through PayPal or Venmo, to help them keep their liveaboard lifestyle alive.
“It’s enough to provide an incentive to keep going,” Jolene says. “It is my goal in another year that it would cover all of our costs, but right now we’re probably at a third of covering our costs.”
And they’re far from alone. The Wandering Knapps is just one among several YouTube channels that have become not just a brand, but a driver in creating a new type of digital-based liveaboard community. There’s also Brooke and Braden Palmer, whose 24,000 YouTube subscribers tune in at the Aboard Mermaid Monster channel to watch them live aboard a Nordhavn 55 with their kids. And there’s Billy Swezey and Sierra Growth of the Tula’s Endless Summer channel, which has about 142,000 subscribers glued to their adventures living aboard a 1988 Crowther Spindrift catamaran.
Each of these YouTube channels offers a real-life window into what it’s actually like to become a liveaboard cruiser...
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