At Home and at Work, Afloat
This sailor's onboard office promises a commute you can cruise with. "Hands-On Sailor: Living Aboard" from our January 2012 issue.
Over the last four years, I’ve worked from home. You could also say that I work remotely, since home now for my wife, Catherine, and me, is Dream Time, our 38-foot Cabo Rico.
For years, I dreamed about sailing around the world, living a life of freedom, discovery, and adventure far away from the rushed routine of our existence in New York. I wanted to live in the moment, to embrace the unexpected, and to seek new experiences in the warm, tropical, uncluttered corners of the world. But how do you make that a reality when you’re supposed to be building a career and making a living?
For the 10 years we lived in New York, I felt shackled to work by a chain of emerging technologies that all promised to make my life easier: beepers, cellphones, P.D.A.s, Sidekicks, BlackBerry smartphones. I became connected all the time. The sanctuary of Dream Time’s cabin became an extension of my office, invaded by a persistent stream of urgent beeps, buzzes, and blinking red lights.
But in 2005, while working on a last-minute project on Dream Time during our summer vacation at Block Island, in the waters off Rhode Island, I had a thought that changed the direction of my life: What if I was able to use technology—the very technology that I couldn’t escape on land—to set myself free?
I’m not suggesting that every career can be successfully navigated remotely from a small sailboat. But many can, and in my industry of advertising graphic design, as long as I have ideas and the resources to share those ideas, there are literally no limitations to how far away I can go.
So we began installing the latest in communication equipment on Dream Time (see image above, and view a larger image here), and after a year of researching, planning, troubleshooting, and testing, Dream Time became not only our full-time home and vessel to explore the world but also my new floating office. And in the summer of 2007, as we sailed out of Long Island Sound with the Caribbean Sea and South Pacific Ocean on our minds, it was business (almost) as usual.
Working from a sailboat is much like passagemaking. It requires planning, adjustments, and fine-tuning to reach your objective. Staying connected to the main office, especially after leaving the communications signal-saturated coastline of North America behind, became more challenging.