Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

I finally found a reality show I like. Not that I was looking for one. I gave up on reality shows almost as soon as they became a thing. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that stiff, self-conscious drama played by terrible actors working with practically no plot almost always added up to a show I did not want to spend more than five minutes on.

Many moons later, I’m a YouTube junkie, and it started with guys who pull junker cars out of garages that are scheduled for demolition, take them back to their shop and fix them up (the cars, not the demolished garages). The guy who got me hooked regularly drags home a Volkswagen that’s been sitting in a garage for thirty years, dumps a little oil in the crankcase, connects a spare battery and fires it right up. I binge-watched his videos for weeks. It’s hard to explain why.

I can’t remember how I crossed over from that kind of fix-up video to boat building, but however it happened, I ended up on a series of videos from Leo Sampson, who rescued a historically significant wooden boat from being broken up, shored it up in the backyard of a friend’s house and started work on restoring it. He thought he’d be able to save a lot of the boat, but what he ended up doing was tearing it completely apart and rebuilding it from the ground up. (Almost. If I recall correctly, the original ballast keel is still on the ground beneath the completely rebuilt hull.) What made it fascinating to me was how detailed his videos were and how clearly and concisely he explained what he was doing. It’s like “This Old House” but for wooden boats. I’m a complete nerd for this kind of stuff.

I tried watching several other video series about building wooden boats, but none were as interesting to me as Leo’s were. He had a special knack for shooting just the right video, putting it together in just the right way to tell a story, and then narrating the story in a way that was really engaging to me. He’s also got wicked good taste in music, which surprisingly makes the videos so much more enjoyable.

While I was searching for and watching other videos about building wooden boats, I also watched videos about sailing boats. There are a metric butt-ton of these and they fascinated the hell out of me for a while because apparently there are viewers who will pay to watch these videos! Yes! A typical video will feature a young couple who sold their house and their car and bought a boat, which they plan to sail around the world. You can like and subscribe the videos, which somehow makes money for them, and you can sign up to send them money regularly through a service like Patreon, and who wouldn’t want to throw twenty bucks a month to a couple in their twenties so they can sail to Tahiti and drink beers on the beach?

*raises hand*

Sorry. Not going to pitch in for gas money if I’m not going along for the ride.

(Full disclosure: I’m pitching in for Leo’s boat because that guy’s got moxie. Watch the first half-dozen videos in the series and try to tell me he doesn’t.)

I’ve given up watching most videos about sailing, but there’s one series I can’t tear myself away from: It’s called “Sailing Uma” and features, unsurprisingly, a young couple, Dan and Kika, and they – again, unsurprisingly – sold practically all their worldly possessions, bought a boat and sailed it across the Atlantic Ocean. What makes their story compelling is that, like Leo, they have a knack for creating an interesting video journal of their journey. They know how to tell a story. They can compose a shot and edit the shots together like the pros. And they are engaging and have great chemistry together that comes across well on the screen. In short, not only are their sailing videos are more fun to watch than any others I have seen, I even look forward to them.

a pleasant distraction | 5:36 am CDT
Category: entertainment, television | Tags:
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