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Old 07-11-2020, 15:36   #1
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Working while liveaboard

Hi,

Iím after some advice from working live aboard please. Preferably people in my industry. I am a software developer who owns a small development company. We have 15 staff across the planet.

I am trying to determine how feasible it is to still run the company from aboard. We are probably mostly coastal cruising in a 45-50 ft cat. I was thinking I can convert one forward cabin to my office.

So, I guess advice on things like, how much time actually exists to work? Does running the boat take up all the day? Anchoring, maintenance,weather monitoring, sailing Yada yada. Iím dubious there will be enough time to achieve anything work related.

So, anyone who actually works full time-ish from afloat, Iíd love to hear about your experience please.

Thanks
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Old 07-11-2020, 16:03   #2
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Re: Working while liveaboard

There is as much time as you want there to be. It all is up to you toscheduleand plan around it.
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Old 07-11-2020, 16:05   #3
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsalta View Post
Hi,

Iím after some advice from working live aboard please. Preferably people in my industry. I am a software developer who owns a small development company. We have 15 staff across the planet.

I am trying to determine how feasible it is to still run the company from aboard. We are probably mostly coastal cruising in a 45-50 ft cat. I was thinking I can convert one forward cabin to my office.

So, I guess advice on things like, how much time actually exists to work? Does running the boat take up all the day? Anchoring, maintenance,weather monitoring, sailing Yada yada. Iím dubious there will be enough time to achieve anything work related.

So, anyone who actually works full time-ish from afloat, Iíd love to hear about your experience please.

Thanks

Itís a lot harder than you would think. However, it sounds like you have a handle on what the time eaters are.

It will involve you staying put on work days and moving only on days off. Even on work days youíll likely have problems arise you need to attend to.
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Old 07-11-2020, 16:42   #4
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Re: Working while liveaboard

I'm a writer and editor. When I have project deadlines I will plan our cruising so that I am in a stable and secure location for periods when I need to get things done, and be in full contact with others.

The logistics of running the office are also something to consider. Computers and communications devices take space, and power. Space won't be a problem on a 45ft cat, but power demands may if you want to be off the dock. And your communications will likely require high bandwidth.

So it's certainly possible, but it's all about planning. And it will also certainly dictate much of how you will cruise ... which is probably why I avoid work as much as possible .
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Old 07-11-2020, 16:58   #5
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsalta View Post
Hi,

Iím after some advice from working live aboard please. Preferably people in my industry. I am a software developer who owns a small development company. We have 15 staff across the planet.

I am trying to determine how feasible it is to still run the company from aboard. We are probably mostly coastal cruising in a 45-50 ft cat. I was thinking I can convert one forward cabin to my office.

So, I guess advice on things like, how much time actually exists to work? Does running the boat take up all the day? Anchoring, maintenance,weather monitoring, sailing Yada yada. Iím dubious there will be enough time to achieve anything work related.

So, anyone who actually works full time-ish from afloat, Iíd love to hear about your experience please.

Thanks
My limiting factor as a developer in working from a boat is the internet connection. Since I am part of a team during the day it means I would have to stay anchored during daylight hours and only move on nights or weekends.

I need about 20 Mb/s minimum bandwidth which rules out conventional satellite (unless I want to pay $2500+/month). Wifi extenders are good for about a mile and 4G cellular boosters for maybe 10 miles. I can bridge together 2-3 cellular providers + wifi and get a pretty reliable connection but for all practical purposes, until StarLink or other technologies evolve, I would be tethered to a marina or the closest cell tower.
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Old 07-11-2020, 17:57   #6
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Hi,

Thanks. At the moment it is 100% not feasible for me as the customer and staff interactions are numerous. I have scheduled daily meetings in the am and pm with customers and staff in various time zones around the globe.

I found some other similar threads and the consensus seemed to be what I expected. In that the work is best if not of a time sensitive or scheduled nature. So, I guess I need to systemise myself out of the equation so I’m involved from a more oversight role rather than hands on.

I was hoping everyone would say, nahhh it’s easy. But I knew this ain’t the case.

Cheers
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Old 07-11-2020, 17:58   #7
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Re: Working while liveaboard

My wife is working full time while we work our way down the coast. We move overnight, if it's calm enough for her to get a good night's rest, but mostly we move on weekends. If we weren't trying to get south, and finish building a boat too, it'd be a lot easier.

We use ATT "unlimited" hotspot, through an Ebay seller, T-mobile 50gb hotspot (grandfathered from 2 years ago) now they only offer 30gb, and we just got a verizon phone, 30gb, to hopefully cover some of the weak spots between the other two providers.

We're presently in Galesville, Md, 200 metres from a cell tower and are getting 110 mbps.

Good luck.
Paul.
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Old 07-11-2020, 18:22   #8
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Hi Paul,

Great. Thanks. Is she a developer or in IT? How does her hardware hold up? My office rig is a full desktop and 6 monitors. Iím experimenting at the moment with a laptop and only 2 monitors and itís horrible

Do you need to run gennys much to power her work station?

I see you are on a cat. Did you make a dedicated workspace in one of the hulls? If so, did you put it in the same hull your cabin is in?

Cheers
Jeff
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Old 07-11-2020, 18:34   #9
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Working while liveaboard

Iíve spent the past few summers working aboard. Wifi ( with an extender) helps keep the cell costs down.
When Iím working itís online IT and many meetings a day. The meetings consume far more bandwidth than the remote IT stuff. Teams is a bandwidth hog! I will do teams meetings with my phones ďunlimitedĒ plan, and wifi or tether for the IT stuff. If I need to screen share or look at a shared screen I suck up the data cost for excess the usage if needed.
We have to plan around bandwidth, and if itís midweek put moving the boat on the calendar.
Even when in my home harbor I work aboard 4 out of 5 days while having dinner and breakfast ashore. Family. Dog. Walking. Etc.
Better than being stuck ashore!
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Old 07-11-2020, 18:47   #10
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Re: Working while liveaboard

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Originally Posted by Tsalta View Post
Hi Paul,

Great. Thanks. Is she a developer or in IT? How does her hardware hold up? My office rig is a full desktop and 6 monitors. Iím experimenting at the moment with a laptop and only 2 monitors and itís horrible

Do you need to run gennys much to power her work station?

I see you are on a cat. Did you make a dedicated workspace in one of the hulls? If so, did you put it in the same hull your cabin is in?

Cheers
Jeff
I'm in the same situation (I almost said boat) as you. My software dev company is roughly the same size, but I only need to worry about US timezones. I'm looking 2-3 years down the road though.

Your biggest issue is going to bandwidth. I'd look into bonding together several cellular connections with Wifi in the interim to get the data rate you want. Starlink may or may not solve your problem soon.

The next biggest issue will be power. You'll likely need to be in a marina or have the generator running while you work. A beefy desktop and six monitors will need a lot of juice.

You'll also want a good local back-up system. The lack and cost of bandwidth won't allow you to back-up to the cloud.

Good luck and let us know how it works out!
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Old 07-11-2020, 18:49   #11
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsalta View Post
Hi Paul,

Great. Thanks. Is she a developer or in IT? How does her hardware hold up? My office rig is a full desktop and 6 monitors. I’m experimenting at the moment with a laptop and only 2 monitors and it’s horrible

Do you need to run gennys much to power her work station?

I see you are on a cat. Did you make a dedicated workspace in one of the hulls? If so, did you put it in the same hull your cabin is in?

Cheers
Jeff
Hi Jeff.

She's in IT. We don't have a genset, but she's only using a laptop and one extra monitor (a low power, 15 inch flat screen, runs off her laptop usb, type C) We got the monitor from Amazon and it's fantastic, she takes it with her when she travels, and clients always comment how she has an office in her pack. It takes very little power.

She does some video conferencing, but usually blacks her screen out for "in house" calls. Unless someone wants a boat tour, which is about once a week. It's more often if she hasn't blacked out her screen. The boating/cruising questions really can eat up her day, and she has to be vigilant to get things done.

Most of her clients are more or less over the video thing, and don't mind just doing audio. We are still "in build", and the space her office was going to occupy is filled with foam, epoxy and rolls of glass. She splits her time between the nav station and the table. She prefers the nav station if the sun's not too strong, as the view's fantastic.

No issues with hardware, now, but don't use a square sign wave inverter, we did ruin a laptop that way. We now only use pure sign wave inverters, so far so good.

Cheers, Jeff.
Paul.
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Old 07-11-2020, 19:46   #12
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Hi guys,

Thanks. Yeh, bandwidth will be the crux. One of my staffs cousins is a beta tester for starlink and speaks very highly of it. I’m in Australia and have my name down for beta testers here when it becomes available. I feel / hope / pray that if there is reliable connection between ports, then it may be entirely possible to work at a fairly reasonable percentage of shore based productivity whilst afloat.

It’s a catch 22. If I keep working then we can afford our dream boat (something like a saba50), but if I don’t keep working then it will be somewhat lesser.

I will have to monitor the power usage of the laptop + monitor setups to see the draw. I assumed a good solar array would manage.

It’s a 2 year plan as we will wait for the youngest to finish school, but I would have liked to purchase said boat towards the end of 2021.

Pure sine wave inverter. Yes, thanks. I’m guessing most modern boats come as standard fitted with? I don’t do hardware, but does a UPS help? Regardless, I’m sure there are times when you would just plug the laptop in anywhere.

Cheers
Jeff
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Old 07-11-2020, 19:55   #13
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Re: Working while liveaboard

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Originally Posted by Tsalta View Post
Hi guys,

...

I will have to monitor the power usage of the laptop + monitor setups to see the draw. I assumed a good solar array would manage.

...

Pure sine wave inverter. Yes, thanks. Iím guessing most modern boats come as standard fitted with? I donít do hardware, but does a UPS help? Regardless, Iím sure there are times when you would just plug the laptop in anywhere.

Cheers
Jeff
Going the laptop route will safe you considerable power.

UPS won't transform the waveform, and if you get an AC generator make sure it puts out a pure sine wave as well.
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Old 07-11-2020, 21:11   #14
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Re: Working while liveaboard

I work in IT and work from our 28’ boat all the time. I’m a pre sales engineer for a major software company. I mainly use solar to keep our batteries charged, use a laptop and an Ipad only. I’m on conference calls all the time, some with video. I just tether to my AT&T phone and get 20-50Mb most of the the time. Depends on the area and coverage. I dont sail or move during working hours unless there is a hole in my schedule. You can do it, but your going to need to sacrifice some of those monitors or spend a ton of money on generators and fuel. It’s a domino effect. I’m probably a lot more minimalistic than you want to be.
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Old 07-11-2020, 21:24   #15
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Re: Working while liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsalta View Post
Hi,

Iím after some advice from working live aboard please. Preferably people in my industry. I am a software developer who owns a small development company. We have 15 staff across the planet.

I am trying to determine how feasible it is to still run the company from aboard. We are probably mostly coastal cruising in a 45-50 ft cat. I was thinking I can convert one forward cabin to my office.

So, I guess advice on things like, how much time actually exists to work? Does running the boat take up all the day? Anchoring, maintenance,weather monitoring, sailing Yada yada. Iím dubious there will be enough time to achieve anything work related.

So, anyone who actually works full time-ish from afloat, Iíd love to hear about your experience please.

Thanks
We lived aboard for 10 years while working in the US in corporate jobs, myself in IT Development (Project management and Unit management), Judy in the legal field.

We were not "cruising". The boat was our house and we were in marinas and we commuted to the city each day. Our live-aboard status was not an issue. We had DSL lines to the boat.

But we were able enjoy the liveaboard lifestyle and sail 95 times a year, always returing to the dock so we could head off to work the next day.

We quit our jobs after 10 years and departed on a world cruise. Upon running out of money rather quicker than we expected we parked our boat in another marina in another country and found new jobs, same fields, and resumed our careers, again commuting to the office each day.

We repeated this cycle a few times, in five foreign countries over a period of an additional 13 years. It was, and has been, a fantastic life.

The last jobs were in Thailand. In that situation we kept the boat in a marina and lived in an apartment in the city during the week, and went to the office each day, but sailed on weekends. These were the best jobs, in terms of earnings, authority, and responsibility, of our careers, and when we retired from these we felt (and still feel) we were set financially for the rest of our lives.

The main thing is that we did not retreat from the corporate world and we did not try to run our careers via the Internet. We stayed in the rat race and stayed in the game. This allowed us to keep advancing and to keep our earnings increasing, while still mostly living on board and enjoying the variety of different world experiences. Between jobs we cruised extensively for months at a time, but kept up with the technology and this allowed us to jump back into the game when we were ready to do so.

Maybe you can do this nowdays with Zoom or Teams or something like that but if you are not in the hallways, at the watercooler, or looking over your staff's shoulders as they try to solve that tough coding or design problem, you are one step out of the game.
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