Sailing Social Media Stars Ryan & Sophie Make Annapolis Sailboat Show Debut – Capital Gazette
Swipe right in Sweden, fall in love with Skype and sail around the world, together.
This is the relationship trajectory that Sophie Darsy and Ryan Ellison recount on their YouTube channel, Ryan and Sophie Sailing. It sounds like a 21st century fairy tale romance, and in a way, it is. But the pair, who met seven years ago on Tinder, prefer to exploit their unusual lifestyle choice for dark comedy, bilge leaks, immigration drama, hurricanes and all.
“At some point we decided, ‘You know what? We can’t water down what it is,'” Ellison said, of their traveling life aboard a 40-foot sailboat. yachtsmen embraced their self-deprecating accounts of a French woman and her Iowa partner as they adjusted to life on board.
“We thought we were going to have margaritas on a beach,” Ellison said, shaking his head. “We never do that.”
However, they can now have Dark and Stormys at the Choptank. Ellison and Darsy arrived in Anne Arundel County last week and will make a series of United States Sailboat Show appearances, beginning with Darsy speaking at a “Women in Sailing” panel on Thursday. Ellison will promote a battery company he partly owns and participate in a crisis panel. And of course, they’ll be filming and Instagramming their way through Annapolis. The couple will be among 40 sailing influencers who will answer questions, discuss their experiences and pose for photos at a new Sailing Channel booth during the five-day festival.
However, Maryland fans may soon see a lot more of the couple in real life. Darsy and Ellison plan to winterize their boat, Polar Seal, in Herrington’s South Harbor in Deale, and are looking for a home on land in the sailing capital of the world, if they can find an affordable home.
“There’s not a lot of money on YouTube,” Darsy said.
Ellison and Darsy were both expats living in Stockholm when they met through the adventures of online dating. “When you move to Sweden, you go there for the work and stay for the quality of life,” Darsy said. There is a Dala horse in the cabin’s small living room, and they proudly display a blue and yellow flag on the Polar Seal. Their American and French accents surprised a few Deale dockers. “People are sometimes disappointed when they find out we’re Swedish but not Swedish,” Darsy said.
She is originally from Brittany, France, but visited Stockholm for a university internship. In 2010, she immigrated to Sweden and ended up working in HR project management, although film and communications were her passions.
Ellison grew up in Iowa and trained as a pilot at the University of North Dakota. In 2015, when Tinder paired him with Darsy, he was consulting for an aviation company and leading survival training missions in Greenland. During video calls, she started making seal noises and making jokes about polar bears. Three years later, they named their boat “Polar Seal” in honor of this unconventional courtship.
It’s easy to get bitten by the sailing bug in the archipelagic city of Stockholm, where “boat shares” are as popular as car shares. But it wasn’t until they read an article about Matt and Jessica Johnson, a Michigan couple now based on Kent Island, that they decided to sell their apartment and start sailing around the world.
“When we came up with the idea for the boat thing, we both looked at our lives a little bit and thought, ‘Maybe it’s time to start doing our own thing,'” he said. Ellison said.
Neither knew anything about sailing, although on taking a course in Gibraltar Ryan found he had many transferable skills as a pilot, including the ability to read maps and directional graphics.
“It became a conflict,” Ellison said.
“Not a conflict,” Darsy interjects. “It was very frustrating.” Once they established that despite seeking an equal partnership he was going to be the primary pilot of the Polar Seal, “we worked a little better,” Ellison said.
They became full-time sailors in 2018 and have sailed more than 27,000 miles in the past four years while working part-time jobs. He is co-owner of Dakota Battery, a startup that manufactures lithium power sources for boats and bicycles. She is an education consultant and creates how-to-navigate videos, as well as the weekly YouTube posts that go live most Tuesday nights.
“This YouTube thing was never a goal,” Ellison said, but it was his idea. As Darsy grew more enthusiastic about the microphones and cameras, he began to regret encouraging her to film things like their boat christening ceremony, where he put on a captain’s hat and sacrificed a bottle. of rum to Poseidon.
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“It turned out that I really hated the camera,” he said.
Again, they had to compromise. Acting like a somewhat grumpy ship’s captain became part of Ellison’s persona on camera. (People who meet him in person look surprised when they say things like “You’re so nice!”) They even sell T-shirts emblazoned with a useful profanity when “boat projects” go south. Darsy opens a video about installing solar panels on their Beneteau with a G-rated definition of “boat project”: a “seemingly simple task” that will “consistently take at least twice the time you expected.”
The couple have a handful of corporate sponsors, including Tacacat, a dinghy company that will host them at the boat show. They have planned a “Ryan and Sophie Sail” on the schooner Woodwind for their Patreon – a membership platform – contributors, and another that is open to the public.
For a few risky weeks, Darsy and Ellison worried that they wouldn’t both make it to Annapolis. She needed to get a green card for their extended stay in the United States, which took them on a late summer paperwork odyssey from Bermuda to Paris to Stockholm. Ellison ended up sailing solo on the Polar Seal from Bermuda to Norfolk, avoiding hurricanes, while she remained in Sweden awaiting embassy interviews. “Happy chaos,” Darsy called it.
Now they’re out there looking forward to connecting in real life with American sailors who’ve appeared in the comments of their videos, the vast majority of whom turn out to be very likeable.
“People know we’re coming to Annapolis and we know we’ll be there and it’s super exciting,” Darsy said.
Ellison summed up the camaraderie of the sailing community thus: “What we have realized is that we are all looking at the same sunset at the end of the day,” he said. “And so, no matter what you do or what you do, we’re just friends, and everyone will help – for the most part – anyone else. It changed my view of the world.