The Keep Turning Left filmmaker has 'simply run out of budget'

Round-Britain sailor and filmmaker Dylan Winter, of the Keep Turning Left blog fame, has sold his Westerly Centaur yacht for £8,000.

The 26ft Lily-M will now be trucked to Hull, where her new owner lives.

PBO contributor, former BBC cameraman and round-Britain sailor Dylan, said ‘walking away from a perfectly good boat was really sad’ but admitted he had ‘simply run out of budget.’

Dylan, who runs the popular website, has spent the past eight years slowly sailing around the UK in a number of rather elderly small boats making films, writing articles and blogging about the UK’s magnificent coastline.

His Keep Turning Left (KTL) journey began in 2008 when his son went off on his gap year and Dylan decided to have his own adventure.

Paying £2,000 for an 18ft Mirror offshore with a single-cylinder diesel inboard, he set off up the North Sea coast.

He said: ‘I made a few little films, put them on YouTube and they were watched by lots of middle-aged sailors from both sides of the Atlantic. This was in the days before good bandwidth so, in response to many requests, I turned the YouTube films into DVDs. They started selling amazingly well and for five years that financed the sailing.

‘Then we all got good bandwidth so there was no need for DVDs. The YouTube hits have been rising but YouTube only pays $1 per thousand views so 12,000 views per film just does not cut the mustard. Hence the cash flow problem.’

In his blog about the sale of Lily M, Dylan said: ‘I bought her with the intention of keeping her, with her immaculate engine, for about five years while I sailed out to and around the Outer Hebrides, Jura, Islay, Fingals Cave etc but that will all have to go on the back burner for a couple of seasons or so.

‘I have simply run out of budget. It costs £100 in diesel every time I drive to Scotland. The pontoon in Kip is currently costing £100 a month so I need to get shot of the boat before the pontoon prices go through the roof.

‘I will put the money released into getting my trailer-sailer Minstrel Katie L back into good condition.

‘The trailer needs £1,000 spent on it, the nicked outboard needs replacing, she needs rewiring and the centre plate pivot bolt is getting sloppy.  I reckon that I have enough material in the can to make about 13 more films which I will scatter through the rest of this winter and next. Then I will see where I stand.

‘The last film was a massive success in terms of numbers who watched it and the number of minutes watched. It was a record for any of my films – but the PayPal taps were right down – netting about $600 – barely enough for two winter trips to Glasgow and not enough to justify the three weeks it took to edit the film.’

He added: ‘Please don’t send me your sympathies. I am an old freelance hack and have hit the financial buffers several times over my 40-year career. The secret is to see the cash flow problem coming and not get into debt, so that is why I am “sweating the assets”.

‘The journey has been great so far and it will get under way again. It will be no bad thing to close the gap between the time when the films are shot and the time when they are ready to go on the web. So I have films to come about the west coast of Scotland – not the islands – and also quite a few about the summer of 2015 which was spent in and around the Firth of Forth and the Moray Firth.

‘Centaurs are easy to buy and easy to sell – and who knows, one day I might end up buying a third one.

‘It will be great to get back to the little boat again – she sails so beautifully.

‘When I made this film I expected to keep Lily M for five years and to do a lot of miles in her.

‘When you are a sailor plans are always changing.’

Q& A with Dylan

What’s next for you?

I have enough material for 13 more films covering the route down the west coast of Scotland. I will be editing them this summer and posting them on my website through this coming year – at the rate of about one every three weeks or so.

The news that I have sold the boat has produced a remarkable spike in PayPal taps.  The first two have gone out and so far I am on target for re-booting the project next winter with a tougher boat with heating.

In the meantime I will be gently schlepping up and down the East Coast rivers in my trailer sailer while drinking endless cups of tea and observing the birds.

Dylan Winter's trailer sailer Katie L

Dylan Winter’s trailer sailer Katie L

Will you still be getting out on the water?

I still have the duck punt and will be launching the Minstrel in May – but I know that by the end of May I will be getting bored of the Deben and will start small adventures up and down the coast. I wish that I was one of those blokes who loves sailing up and down the same home waters. My desire to get back to Scotland while I am still fit – I am 61 with runner’s knees so I know that the years of fitness are numbered.

After being inspired by your son’s gap year, you’ve spent eight years slowly sailing around the UK in a number of boats making films, writing articles and blogging about the UK’s coastline. What’s been the biggest highlights? The biggest lows?

The best thing has been the emails from the blokes – when they watch a film they can get for free and then decide to hit the PayPal button in gratitude that is the finest feeling in the world.

The lowest was coming across the Pentland Firth with a 30-hour-old forecast.  An easterly blow was forecast but we were making such grand progress reaching at 5 knots past Orkney that I decided to carry on rather than turn into Scapa Flow.

That was probably the dumbest decision of my life. It was fine until the tide turned against the wind and started flowing to the east.  The old Centaur coped brilliantly – they always say that the weakest thing on a boat is the nut on the tiller.

If money was no object, what would you be doing?

Sailing a Fisher 25 around the Outer Hebrides. Scotland is magnificent, amazing, astonishing, beautiful, challenging – I have never sailed anywhere as wonderful in my life.

Each film takes about three weeks to edit so I am not relishing the 33 weeks sitting at my desk.  But if the work gets me back to Scotland in a well-prepared boat then it will be worth it.

The interesting thing the blokes are paying for the entertainment value of the films rather than chipping in towards the costs of keeping a boat in the water. The Americans appear to have really taken to the project big time.

KTL is not done yet.

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