Bobby White and his partner Laura have become quite well-known in these parts for their YouTube channel Sailing Doodles, the fourth most watch sailing vlog on YouTube.
But how did they become so popular, so fast?
Let’s start at the beginning. Bobby was born and raised in Dallas, Texas; a corporate pilot for two decades, he spent time overseas, including four years in Abuja, Nigeria, and another in Dubai but he had been back in Texas for five years flying Gulfstreams for a wealthy family to their vacation homes in the US and Caribbean when he suffered a stroke that ended his flying career.
One morning, in September 2015, Bobby woke up with a severe headache and took Ibuprofen, a blood thinner, not realizing he had a brain bleed going on. Picking up the phone to text his girlfriend at the time, Bobby realized he couldn’t read, so he knew something was very wrong, He was able to drive himself to an ur-gent-care facility, who rushed him to a hospital where he had a CAT scan and they realized he had suffered a Hemorrhagic stroke. He was soon put on a helicopter headed for a Dallas hospital that specializes in brain trauma. He spent eleven days in neuro ICU, undergoing three different procedures. The result was he lost his medical license to fly. By that time, Bobby figured he had flown 7,000 flight hours and approximately 2,000,000 nautical miles.
Bobby had to reteach himself how to read, and that took about two months. The first three months after post-stroke are extremely critical and patients need to be pro-active, oth-erwise they don’t recover much more after those first three months Bobby’s mother is a successful realtor, so he thought he would give that a whirl, but he lasted eight months. He hated it, “the most stressful job I ever had” he says.
One day, Bobby was listening to the Sailing Podcast (no longer active) and Riley and Elayna from the Sailing Vagabonde were being interviewed (they had 100,000 YouTube sub-scribers at that time, now they have 570,000). Bobby had done some lake sailing and chartered boats in the Caribbean so he started following them. Bobby decided if the Sailing La Vaga-bonde folks could do it, so could he, so he sold everything he owned except for a few clothes and created Sailing Doodles, named after his two Labradoodles, Maverick and Goose.
He went to Houston and paid US$24,000 for a 37ft C & C (1984) and put 29another $4,000 into upgrading the boat. Within a month of buying her, he set sail with his friend Megan on Ruff Seas out of Galveston Bay and they sailed across the Gulf of Mexico in seven days to the Florida Keys. They then continued on through the Bahamas and into the US Virgin Islands.
“In hindsight, you don’t really know what you need in a cruising boat until you’ve gone cruising, Ruff Seas didn’t carry enough fuel or water, had a deep draft for its size — not suit-able for the Bahamas — but it was a fast boat.”
Bobby’s goal with Sailing Doodles was just to offset expenses and the original plan was to sail around for a year and then sell the boat using the experience he had learned to get a job as crew on another boat. He first met Laura, his Sailing Doodles partner, at a regatta in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. She was working there as a traveling nurse, and a mutual friend introduced them through Instagram. The irony being that Laura was an ICU nurse who took care of stroke patients; Laura was impressed that Bobby chose not to be sidelined by his injury, if anything it empowered him, so Laura decided to keep tabs on him. Bobby sailed on Ruff Seas until June of 2017 when he left her in Puerto Rico as he took a job delivering a Lagoon 440 from St Maarten to Florida. He had his boat under contract to sell, and then the guy who was going to buy it backed out at the last minute. Hurricane Maria then ravaged Puerto Rico and damaged Ruff Seas, practically beyond repaid. Bobby ended up giving the boat away, as the mast was broken and she had considerable hull damage.
At this point Sailing Doodles was cov-ering Bobby’s living expenses. He was posting once a week, and he was getting more and more comfortable with his sailing skills. But with Ruff Seas out of commission, Bobby didn’t have enough cash to buy another boat, so he thought about turning Sailing Doodles into a travel blog, using the experience he had learned to get a job as crew on another boat.
He first met Laura, his Sailing Doodles partner, at a regatta in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. She was working there as a traveling nurse, and a mutual friend introduced them through Instagram. The irony being that Laura was an ICU nurse who took care of stroke patients; Laura was impressed that Bobby chose not to be sidelined by his injury, if anything it empowered him, so Laura decided to keep tabs on him.
Bobby sailed on Ruff Seas until June of 2017 when he left her in Puerto Rico as he took and picked Thailand as his first destination.
He flew to Thailand in September of 2017, and one of his YouTube viewers said he should talk with Ron Patston of Gulf Charters. Bobby contacted Ron and asked if he could interview him and do a tour of his Island Spirit boat manufacturing company. The video re-ceived 50,000 views in the first days after it was posted, so an idea gestated; Gulf Charters had a boat sitting in Vancouver for three years that Ron was trying to get over to Thailand to put in his company’s charter fleet. Ron told Bobby the boat was his as long as he brought it to Ocean Marina by the end of August 2018.
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