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Old 31-10-2013, 23:01   #1
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Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

I am new to this site as well as to sailing all together. Got my ASA 101 this summer, plan to buy my first ever sailboat in spring and spend first sailing summer (2014) sailing in "safe" waters, maybe try day trips offshore ( as long as shore is visible). Ideally, in my mind, in 2015 we should be able to take our first passage from NJ to Miami or Ft Lauderdale and from there to Bahamas. Any reflections from experienced sailors on my plans will be accepted, considered and appreciated. As for time, we are not too constrained- my wife and I are running small design/engineering consulting firm and do a lot of work over internet and Skype. Worst case, if I absolutely have to meet a client, I can fly for 1-3 days and return to where the boat is parked. But my another question is about that- possible experience of engineers/ designers doing CAD or graphic design project while cruising. Tell me about your experiences.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:25   #2
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Fidar.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:38   #3
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Fidar.
Thank you, GordMay, thank you! My wife and I got really "hooked up" on sailing only five years ago after our first in 20 years vacation with my wife without kids. We went sailing for a week from Barbados with Trade Winds catamaran, three other couples, captain and his wife/cook, both young and very charming people. I had couple of friends who were whining about how much they want "a boat". I was all about buying a small 2-seater ultralight airplane back then and had no clue why are they so interested in a frigging boat... But after that memorable vacation quite fast things chifted and changed. I still want to buy airplane, but it went from #1 on my wishlist to #2 if notfurther down the list. #1 is a sailboat now.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:51   #4
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

Fidar,

It sounds like you can run your business mostly online, so it should be a good fit for a cruiser.

Will you be buying a cat or mono hull? The reason I ask is that when I was doing CAD work on my mono I hated that I was down below without a view. Now with a cat I can look up from the laptop every so often to enjoy the view.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:53   #5
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

While we do not cruise full time, I work from our boat quite often. I just need reliable wi if and the ability to use my cell phone or skype when I need to discuss something with customers. There are so many options now that what you describe will only be limited to your abilities.
I suggest having an inboard office or a nav station that can double as such be one of the criteria you consider when looking at boats,
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Old 01-11-2013, 18:17   #6
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Fidar, ... Will you be buying a cat or mono hull? The reason I ask is that when I was doing CAD work on my mono I hated that I was down below without a view. Now with a cat I can look up from the laptop every so often to enjoy the view.
Yes, Cotemar, I would love to buy a nice cat, of course, but most likely, my first vessel will be a used monohull. There are several reasons and affordability is one of them. Immediate affordability, that is. I could put money aside for 2-3 years and then afford a nice cat, but my wife and I want to sail NOW!:-) Badly. In our daydreams we see ourselves sailing around the globe with two daughters. For a year or two... We fear this idea. And yet we talk about how nice it would be. One must learn to walk before learning to run, right?
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Old 01-11-2013, 18:28   #7
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

Got it. Smaller is a great way to get on the water and enjoy and experience the fun of sailing.
No worries, as most every boat has a nav. station to do your work at.
I did a lot of work on the hook in our Catalina 30. If you have a bit of shade in the cockpit then that would be a good place for you to work and also enjoy the scenery.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:03   #8
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

Do you currently work from home with an established client base? If you decide to do remote engineering from the boat how will you deal with the required final site visits and sign off? Otherwise I too would be interested in hearing from other engineers who work from their boats in remote locations.
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Old 11-12-2013, 17:56   #9
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

I am an architect and live on my Columbia 41 here in Washington DC. As I see it you will have a few hardware issues. For example, CAD is okay and I use Autocad ADT here for minor boat projects. More firms are using BIM which is much more demanding of memory because the files tend to be enormous. Transmitting these files to you and from you will take a long time via wi-fi. There is a tendency for things to go wrong in this process.

Plotting drawings on a boat is questionable because the printer or plotter is big and demands a lot of AC power.

Lastly, the firm I am with has used off shore consultants from time to time to do color renderings. This has gone well with the deliverable coming back overnight most of the time. Construction document drafting done in a distant branch office has not worked out so well. We have found it necessary to have consultants at hand in the DC office so that their work product can be monitored all day.

In sum, I think you might have better luck looking up a local enginer or architect in your port of destination. Show them your resume and work samples and offer to work in their office on contract (under the table). Labor taxes are often high off shore so if your hourly rate looks good you might just get a quick offer.
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Old 11-12-2013, 18:17   #10
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

Nobody has mentioned it yet but connectivity really depends on where you are at and can get quite expensive if you have to have a connection (satelite)
Cell coverage is limited to a few miles from shore and only in populated areas, WiFi also really depends on what facilities are close to shore (and can also be quite slow).
There are no issues if you are in a major population center but if you like being off the beaten track it's a different story.
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Old 13-12-2013, 20:02   #11
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

I'm a software architect and service about 13-20 major clients a year. I don't do development anymore... more business development. I often work from our place in the Caribbean and now, from our boat. So far, as my clients and my co-workers are concerned, they don't even know my location has changed and I am not telling. Sometimes someone notices my tan. Its really none of their business. If you have a few days or a week to plan travel, you should not have trouble getting a flight.

The biggest issues I have found have more to do with noise than anything. For example, we were in Norfolk the last few days. The constant noise of navy helicopters flying over, the sounds of tugs, and of the work happening in the naval yard was somewhat difficult to explain to the people I was speaking to on the phone.

Go for it.
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Old 13-12-2013, 20:34   #12
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

My two biggest problems are;

1. Most Marina Wifi is not dependable, so you'd better have your own setup, and it can be expensive (but written off).

2. Actually motivating myself to work, with so many awesome distractions calling constantly.

I'll get to work right after we go for a walk on that deserted beach, and after I tighten that alternator belt, and after I look at the weather for tomorrow's planned move, etc..

'
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Old 13-12-2013, 20:49   #13
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

I am a licensed architect and have on rare occasion done CAD work (VectorWorks) on board and even once underway! Presently I do outsource consulting... and not commuting and telecommuting I am way more efficient. But as a senior I don't need to be monitored as juniors need to be.

It's a compromise working from a laptop... but doable. I prefer a full keyboard and 2 large monitors. I could do this and stow for sailing and set this up on the dining table and work from the settee. Table ht is not ergonometric for keyboard or mousing. I convey files using a smart phone as a mobile hot spot.

Here's the drawing I had to work on... on vacation!

I don't print or plot. I print to PDF and printing is done by others or a print house. No paper and no ink!

I don't like to work on board as I go to the boat to escape work! Well there's boat work... to escape that I have to be at home!
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Old 13-12-2013, 20:51   #14
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

With decent internet and phone in Mexico, I was able to run my business while cruising with the family. Any business you can do from your "home office" you can do from your "boat office". Sure you will have to pick anchorages and places to visit based on having good phone and internet, but that topic is so hot and well talked about in the cruiser community that almost every cruiser knows where you can find good phone and internet.

I think that with the way the world is going...working from the boat from "paradise" is the only thing that makes sense anymore!
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Old 14-12-2013, 07:17   #15
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Re: Doing CAD/Engineering consulting from aboard a sailboat?

How will you do bi-weekly progress meetings?
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