Can we work from our boat?

snapperpb

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Hi everyone - my wife and I are both employed in fully remote jobs, and are considering buying a boat and living full time around the Mediterranean.

Our primary concern is staying connected for work. We're guessing Mon-Fri we'd need to be more Marina based, with weekends for adventures? I've read about the boosters from Digital Yacht and it seems a setup like that would be necessary.

Would this also require us booking berths / moorings in advance in general? Or has anyone done this while at anchor using 4g etc?

We'd be new to boat ownership, but both have sailing experience, and I love DIY so we understand it would be a lot of work. (Although for this reason we're also hoping to buy a bit newer to keep that part simpler if possible). We've worked remotely abroad multiple times before so are comfortable with Schengen / moving around a lot.

Any advice on feasibility for our idea would be very helpful! Thank you!
 

snapperpb

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Hi Syvictoria - my wife is UK and I am US citizen with UK residency. That said, we've both worked remote in 10+ EU countries over the past 5 years so are very comfortable with the Schengen shuffle. (ie. splitting time up with Croatia, Montenegro, Cyprus, etc). If there's any other concerns here boating specific though that are worth mentioning we'd love to hear them!
 

Minerva

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I've spent a few days here and there working on the boat this summer as I too am now permanently WFH.

I have however been acutely aware of the potential for colleagues' perception when working from the boat. I think it would be very easy for them to believe I wasn't working but taking the piss whilst swanning about so have kept it very low key and kept webcam off.

My hope is I can gradually up the amount of time I spend on the boat over the summer (but remaining in UK) but will phase in slowly.

If you were contracting / consulting this could be less of an issue than if PAYE...

Logistics wise, my laptop lasts a day on battery & charges from USB-C and my phone has good 4g reception with ample data so that makes it logistically very easy indeed. One thing to note that my chart table isn't particularly comfortable with regards to lack of legroom for sitting at for prolonged periods and the saloon table has fiddles which are sore on the wrists so think about ergonomics
 

Tranona

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Some sailing experience is good, but worth taking a course or chartering to get a feel for what it is like in the type of boat you might buy and you can do this in the med which will enable you to get experience directly relevant to your chosen area and style of sailing. Second is to explore what it is like to live on a boat (confined spaces!) in a hot climate. The typical practical liveaboard for 2 is in the 35-42' range, although going over 12m can mean a big jump in costs, particularly if using marinas in the western end, although the east is catching up fast!

Three areas of cost to consider (after buying boat). living costs - not much different from such costs on land and reflect your own personal costs. Boat costs - dependent on boat size, starting condition and your ability to DIY, but unlike on land maintenance is ongoing as boats are not really geared to continuous living. Mooring costs - marinas expensive, particularly nightly rates, anchoring limited in many locations.

As to working from boat on line, yes, many people do, although if on the move can be hit and miss. Clearly marinas are better because they will have wi fi, but you may find the weekday/weekend split difficult or expensive to achieve, particularly in summer. Remember that most of the med has a sailing season of April- October and many liveaboards take winter contracts in a marina.

Hope this helps.
 

st599

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Hi Syvictoria - my wife is UK and I am US citizen with UK residency. That said, we've both worked remote in 10+ EU countries over the past 5 years so are very comfortable with the Schengen shuffle. (ie. splitting time up with Croatia, Montenegro, Cyprus, etc). If there's any other concerns here boating specific though that are worth mentioning we'd love to hear them!
In the past, your wife was an EU citizen with the right to work anywhere in the EU and you had rights to enter the EU under her status. That right is gone for both of you.

The jobs you can undertake in the EU are now very limited, and vary per country. You may be better off looking at Croatia which has a Digital Nomads visa.
 

snapperpb

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@Minerva great point on ergonomics, we will definitely keep that in mind! Did you find working from 4g was good enough even for video / day-to-day work calls? We'd definitely be planning on having 4g be a backup plan outside of wifi when we can't get it.

Also does anyone have input on getting 4g signal while at anchor away from harbors / marinas? Is it possible if you stay close to shore?

@Tranona Noted on the experience + costs points, we'd be planning on getting at least coastal skipper from RYA and ICC cert both as well (plus probably some of the side courses, engines etc). Marina space being limited like you said, is it possible to book a month or two in advance in less busy places, and use it as a base?

Thank you everyone so far this all very helpful!
 

Richard10002

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@Minerva great point on ergonomics, we will definitely keep that in mind! Did you find working from 4g was good enough even for video / day-to-day work calls? We'd definitely be planning on having 4g be a backup plan outside of wifi when we can't get it.

Also does anyone have input on getting 4g signal while at anchor away from harbors / marinas? Is it possible if you stay close to shore?
I traversed part of the Med, (Gibraltar to Malta and back, via Balearics, Sardinia, mainland Italy and Sicily), in 2007, and was able to use mobile wifi a couple of miles offshore and at anchor, everywhere I went - this included watching UK TV transmitted via the internet from a gizmo at home). It wasnt easy to source SIM cards with data, but I managed.

Given that things have moved on substantially in the 14 years since, I would imagine that sourcing data SIM cards, and the actual service, will be streets ahead of what it was then. With some research and effort, I think you should be fine with 4G working from anchor and coastal sailing.

It might be worth asking some of the sailing youtubers, and asking what they do - they have some huge video files to upload, and those who do live streams need a good connection.
 

snapperpb

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I traversed part of the Med, (Gibraltar to Malta and back, via Balearics, Sardinia, mainland Italy and Sicily), in 2007, and was able to use mobile wifi a couple of miles offshore and at anchor, everywhere I went - this included watching UK TV transmitted via the internet from a gizmo at home). It wasnt easy to source SIM cards with data, but I managed.

Given that things have moved on substantially in the 14 years since, I would imagine that sourcing data SIM cards, and the actual service, will be streets ahead of what it was then. With some research and effort, I think you should be fine with 4G working from anchor and coastal sailing.

It might be worth asking some of the sailing youtubers, and asking what they do - they have some huge video files to upload, and those who do live streams need a good connection.
That's perfect thanks Richard - guessing you're right about the 4g being better, but glad to know it's at least feasible!

Great point on the youtubers, they would be a great resource for this.
 

capnsensible

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Heaps of people work from their boats these days. We have run two businesses from ours during the time we lived aboard.

Marina wifi can still be a bit iffy in some places but a good mobile data connection is easy and inexpensive these days.

Good luck, bet you enjoy it!
 

Mistroma

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Currently in Scotland, boat in Greece (Ionian)
I worked from the boat for a short time in the UK without a hitch. However, it wasn't very practical when we set off from UK as we were cruising almost every day for a few months.

I would struggle to do any work now for 2 reasons.

1) I can't be bothered and would keep going for a beer. Actually, just shopping, maintenance work and moving to sheltered bays normally takes up too much time (and did I mention beer).

2) I would need air-con mid-season in Greece. I can manage to lie down in 40+C and stay out of the sun (with a beer from time to time) but couldn't concentrate on work. It can be 30+C below very late at night and you need a decent fan + windscoops to get some sleep (Or air-con on mains power).

Less of a problem outside the med. as it is a lot cooler on the Atlantic coast and around to Gib. (mostly).
 

ryanroberts

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I have had my first proper few weeks cruising and working in the UK and it has turned out mostly ok, other than the bloody weather not letting me get to Cornwall so far weekend sailing. I definitely need more solar, and a better 4G antenna, and more sunshine. One issue is rocking up somewhere on a Sunday a bit knackered is finding out the internet isn't viable there. Thankfully only a short hop to somewhere decent in that case. Also having 2 of you will give a lot more flexibility when it comes to being able to move during working hours when needed (and it will be now and then).

There are a bunch of other general aspects to boat life to consider though, not having much stuff, relying on stuff you need to be able to fix, lots of inconvenience when it comes to services normal people take for granted. Sometimes it can get scary, and winters stuck in a marina can be quite dull, all of these are potential relationship stressors if you are not both as enthusiastic about the whole thing. Might be an idea to test things closer to home first too rather than adding a thousand new things at once.

My new 4G setup..

Antennas - 4Gon Solutions

and an industrial router, runs off 12V, much *much* cheaper and better tech than 'marine' alternatives I have seen with ancient modems. Digitalyacht sell worse kit than this for over 1k.

4G Routers - 4G LTE Routers - 4Gon Solutions
 
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snapperpb

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Glad to hear you all have been doing this already! Appreciate all the feedback (and I will make sure to keep the beer fridge far from my laptop :ROFLMAO:)

@ryanroberts Really good info thanks! Any idea on which one of those antennas you'll be replacing the one you didn't like with?

And good to know about the marine routers. I kinda assumed marine routers would have some moisture /weather proofing included - have you had any issues with that using the industrial ones there?
 

ryanroberts

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RAI

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I gave up on WiFi, having gained a large collection of high gain antennas dongles and boosters.
Now the admiral and I just tether our laptops to our mobile phones with local SIM cards with different IPs.
4G coverage is much better around EU coasts than I found around the UK.
Marina life with shore power (or adequate solar panels at anchor) is needed. A couple of powerful laptops working 8 -10 hours a day draws a little through the inverters.
 

Graham376

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I gave up on WiFi, having gained a large collection of high gain antennas dongles and boosters.
Now the admiral and I just tether our laptops to our mobile phones with local SIM cards with different IPs.
4G coverage is much better around EU coasts than I found around the UK.
Marina life with shore power (or adequate solar panels at anchor) is needed. A couple of powerful laptops working 8 -10 hours a day draws a little through the inverters.
Same with us, hunting for free wi-fi just too much bother when for €1/day we can have unlimited 4G.
 

sailaboutvic

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Hey Snapperpb

I Just popped in to catch up with going on here lately and your posting got me to the stage where I couldn't help but replying although these days I'm refraining myself from posting,

Im not going to per claim I'm any type of expert on living while working on board as I'm not,
But Has many here know we been full time liveaboard for a very long time so I like to think we know a little bit about living on board and as my partner was once a translator she did her share of working while cruising.

There been some good stuff posted,
But here some real facts,

Yes you can work from a boat the same way you could work from a cardboard box although I would imagine working from a cardboard box would be easier.
you can also get good internet signal by buying a local SIM card , but it depend greatly what county your in how much you pay, some country's 10gb can cost as much as 20euros or more and as we all know 10gb don't go far and I could go on and on about getting experience before starting , 90/180 rule and all that.

BUT let's get to the bits that's going to put a downer on your plains , real live issue.

Just normal day today stuff can be hard enough in 25/30c let alone sitting behind a PC trying to work , we just had a week of 40/41c we use to the heat and its been a killer during the day you cant move , sweater pour off you , its sticky your stomach feels like a lead balloon with the amount of water your pouring down you,
your skin dripping and your eyes sting as the salty sweat dips on them,
Food intake is limited not only because you don't want to eat but making any type of food is too much of hard work , believe me when I say you will not get any work done no matter how important it is.
And at night sleep , what sleep?
Let's move on as it's not always that hot.
Then there many time in the summer when the next boat and in some case two or three boat want to play very loud music to 3 in the morning try sleeping while your in a live concert, it's not unusual for this to happen serval nights in a roll.
Try going to bed at 3 or 4 then putting in a day working on a PC the next day especially when by 11am the music start again , boom boom boom from one boat, meatloaf from the next ( I like meatloaf) .

When the heat not trying to remove kilo of fat from your body and someone not trying to blow out your ear drum , the swell rolls in and your now living in a tumble dryer,
every time you stop one thing banging another thing start, no point putting food on a plate , you soon be picking most of it up from the floor any way.

At last it gets cooler the wind picks up and there a nice breeze and you looking forward to a good nigh sleep only to be waken up early hours by shout of people dragging their anchor and if your unlucky your chain is at the end of their hook .
When things are quiet and you find your self sitting in a nice anchorage looking forward to a well earn coffee after a night of peaceful sleep before working behind the PC ,

Then there the every days jobs you going to have to fit in , like food shopping , and even if it just a short dinghy ride that going to knock a few hours off you working days , let alone if you got to walk a mile of two , part of you days gone.

Of course it's sod law the days when all good , no shopping need to be done , it's as flat as a pan cake nice breeze and the laptop isn't playing up or flying from one end of the table to the other , internet working good and your ready to put in a good day work, your told the head are blocked , there no water in the tanks,batteries are flat, there water in the boat, the fridge stopped working , dinghy got a leak , the milk gone off or you just not feeling too good.

Now you think I'm joking? Im not ,

in any 9 months season we live on out hook there more days simulator to above then the days when sitting flat water anchorage with no noise and no boat problems .

If you really looking at doing serious work from a boat and want to keep your clients or employer happy find a marina to your budget and work from there then use your free time to go sailing.
Even if you consider buying a cat you still have the same problem ,

There was two forum member who no longer post like many other ( can't blame them ) who worked very well from the boats for many years , both where cat and both spend most of there time based in a marina going off for a few weeks cruising in the summer while they stop work or did very little.

Boats where made for sailing and even on a 13 mts boat we live on with just two on board just cruising can be hard enough at times .

You may ask why we do it if it's that bad?
well for one ......we don't work from our boat ,

two ...we love cruising and seeing places meeting new people and socialising,which I may add you won't be doing not if your trying to find time to work.

And three... over the years we learned to excepted that living on a boat isn't yachting monthly front page of sun bathing and drinking beer and at times it's very hard work without trying to work and earn a living from a boat .
And four ... we using the boat for what it was meant for , cruising,

Over the 20 years I posted here many have talking about living aboard , working on board or just going off cruising, some talking about doing it in very small boats other with a yearly budget that wouldn't last us five months and alway people post it can be done and there right it can be done if you want to live a life you wouldn't dream of doing on land ,
I say less then 1% has ever came back and said if they did it or how they got on, possible because they dream never came to any thing when they really thought it out.

I'm sure many here who answered your posting be interested to hear your experience in time to come.


Best of luck .
 
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Lots of advice above - and yes I would go for 4G. You mentioned video conferencing at one point in which case I'd always prefer to be cabled to a 4g router rather than hotspotting off a phone. The added latency of that extra hop just seems to reach a point where video conferencing is awkward. cabled it was fine
 
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