Living on calm turquoise-colored oceans is something of a dream for most people. Or is it? We chat with 5 families, couples and individuals who have given up their land-based communities and scaled their lives to live on a boat, explore hidden coves, adventure through seemingly unchartered waters and socialize with like-minded souls. In fact, these 5 groups live and work remotely on a boat across the seas and are true testaments to “living the dream” on water.
These sailors tell us their seafaring tales, what made them leave land-based normality, how they make a living, the highlights and challenges, and what their future sailing life holds.
5 Groups of Boat Lovers Who Live And Work Remotely Across The Seas
Ryan and Sophie live aboard their 40 foot yacht called Polar Seal. They are currently in Bermuda.
“In 2015, when my new boyfriend Ryan and I were working in the corporate world, Ryan suddenly came up with the idea of quitting our jobs, buying a boat and leaving our hometown of Stockholm, Sweden, to travel the world by sea. This was a totally random idea and came about after Ryan read an article about a couple who had done the same thing. We were not sailors and were not in the financial position to buy a yacht. Back then, the idea that we could make it work financially, while sailing the world felt near impossible, as neither of our jobs seemed like they translated well to remote work, and we had no idea how to sail a boat!
“Ryan and I both work to afford our lifestyle. We do not come from wealthy backgrounds, and it would have been hard for us to make it work without earning an income.
“Our jobs are fairly similar to land-based jobs, but we work remotely. Ryan is the chairman of the board as well as the Business Development Director of Clean Republic, which among others, manufactures Lithium Batteries, and I am a full-time content creator, with two focuses. I produce weekly films for our channel Ryan and Sophie Sailing, and I teach employees of medium and big companies to create great learning content.
“We are so incredibly lucky and grateful for how much of the world we have been able to experience. From the wonders of the Mediterranean, the warm beaches of the Caribbean, the wonderfully helpful people of Bermuda, the very underrated islands of the Eastern Atlantic… We have created for ourselves a life rich in cultural experiences and fantastic human interactions that we will forever treasure.
“It is easy to look at our lifestyle and only see the picture-perfect postcard that we now and then share on Instagram and Facebook, but the reality is very different, and there is this misconception that living on a boat is a permanent vacation.
“A lot of our friends and family imagine that we spend our days laying under the sun in a hammock, on the foredeck of our boat, anchored in crystal clear blue water by a paradisiac island, a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other, and if we are lucky… we can do that on occasions.
“But most of the time, we spend our days working and catching up with boat work while making sure that we stay safe from weather events.
“Of course, there are physical challenges, such as sailing through storms or dealing with breakage. But life on board can be quite isolating, too, as we are never truly “home” in the places we visit. We make friends quickly, but we say goodbye just as fast. And after a few years away from our hometown, some of the relationships we had there have faded away too.”
Patrick, Ali and their two children live remotely on a boat aboard a 40-foot Nautitech catamaran, currently in Mexico
“My wife and I decided to leave our life in Chicago and sail around the world when we were twenty-eight. We were financially successful but felt like we hadn’t really done anything with our lives. We had no adventures—no exciting stories to tell. We decided to sail around the world, despite zero experience, and haven’t looked back in twenty years.
“We’ve lived aboard on and off for twenty years, with a few years of van life and vintage motorhomes mixed in along the way. Over that time, we’ve had four boats – the first was a 35’ catamaran, then a 43’ monohull, followed by a 42’ trawler, and now a 40’ catamaran.
“We’ve sailed around the world; the Panama Canal, the Galapagos Island, Bora Bora, Sydney, Bali, Maldives, Oman, Sudan, Suez Canal, Greek Isles, Spain, just to name a few stops along the way. We’ve spent years sailing Mexico. We’ve also spent about five years circling the Caribbean. Total nautical miles is ~46,000 over twenty years.
“At first we lived off savings, then it was work. I’ve always been a trader, first in commodities back in my Chicago pre-sailing life, then trading stocks online as we sailed. In addition to my own trading I also run an online business for Wanderers that want to learn to trade/invest in a similar fashion.
“What we love most about living on a boat is the fact that each day is different. The monotony of normal life on land is what I can’t comprehend ever being content with. The changing vistas, the new places, people, and daily life of boats is what drew me in and keep me tied to this life. As for the worst part? I honestly can’t think of one thing that is “worse” on a boat than it is on land. I mean, whining about doing the dishes by hand is hardly something worth talking about.
“Our plans for the future include sailing around the world again over the next few years, this time with kids!”
Shona and Kris and their 4 kids live remotely on a boat aboard Leopard 46 catamaran currently in Canada.
“We have always loved the ocean, so we decided to combine this with our desire to live with less ‘stuff’. Living and work remotely on a boat just made sense. We’ve been living aboard for three years now.
“We weren’t experienced when we decided to buy a sailing boat, but we had always spent a lot of time on the ocean – surfing, kiting and we’d owned some smaller boats. We first started sailing as a family when our youngest, Pip (who is now 7), was six weeks old.
“We’ve sailed throughout the South Pacific (Australia, NZ, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu) Pacific coast of central America (Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama) Atlantic/Caribbean (Columbia, Grand Cayman, Mexico, US East Coast) and now we’re in Canada. We’ve covered 10,000+ nautical miles.
“We are blessed to own an accountancy firm back in Australia with an amazing team, that enables Kris to continue to work remotely. We also live a minimalist lifestyle – eating locally available food, rolling the sleeves up for boat maintenance and swinging off the anchor.
“The freedom to take our home to new places, meet new people and explore new landscapes is what we love most. Servicing the heads (toilets) and having to fix things when they break in remote locations and there are no stores/shops to ruby parts would have to be the worst part of living on a boat.
“Our plans are to continue to explore and see where the wind takes us…. living in surrender.”
Warren and Erika Cook live remotely on a boat aboard their 44-foot Fountaine Pajot catamaran in the South Pacific.
“Boat life seemed like we could combine our love of traveling with the adventure and freedom that sailing provides. Frankly, the only way to afford to travel the world was to do it in a home that can come with us. No matter where we go aboard we still feel like we have the comforts of a home.
“We had no prior experience of sailing, nor did we take any courses. Warren did learn the basics of sailing back in his college days from a French fisherman who had a small 23ft sailing boat. However, to be clear we didn’t go into it haphazardly, but were very methodical with gaining knowledge and experience and with our choices over the years. We bit off what we could chew initially. Luckily starting in the Caribbean provided short day sails, consistent winds and loads of other sailors who were a wealth of knowledge and information.
“We started our sailing adventure in Martinique and sailed the whole Caribbean chain all the way up to the Bahamas and then Florida in our first year. Then for our first hurricane season we sailed down to Cuba, then to the Yucatán of Mexico, down to Belize and then up the river of the Rio Dulce, Guatemala. There we spent 3 months tied up to a beautiful boutique marina and enjoyed life inland until the fall. From Guatemala we went back to Belize, sailed to Roatan and then to Colombia. From Colombia we sailed to the San Blas of Panama on the Caribbean side, crossed the Panama Canal (luckily for us- 2 weeks before the world shutdown) to the Pacific side. With initial hopes of crossing the Pacific Ocean that year to the South Pacific, we altered our plans and sailed north, to Costa Rica and then to the Sea of Cortez. We spent the next 2 seasons in the Sea of Cortez before making our way south again. In the interim of our time in the sea of Cortez we joined our friends on a custom built mono-haul and sailed with them to Hawaii and up to Washington state. It was in the sea that we sold our first boat and bought a new one, SV VA (meaning – let’s go in Spanish) which we sailed across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia where we are currently. In total we have sailed just over 20,000 nautical miles. This will be our fourth year sailing and living aboard.
“We afford this lifestyle with the rental of our home back in Colorado. Which we still have and rent out. In the last 2 years, we have also started to see money coming in through our YouTube channel as well as our Patron account.
“The best part about living on a boat would have to be the beauty that surrounds us. The freedom it gives us to travel from place to place. The responsibility of everything that goes along that keeps us safe, happy and healthy often in trying situations. We can still have the feeling of being at home and comfortable in picturesque destinations. And frankly the challenge of it all.”
They live and work remotely on a boat freely!
“The worst part is that it feels like our boat is always trying to kill us. Our home is a little more susceptible to the natural elements of nature than a home back on land. We are generally moving with the weather and we risk losing our home when the conditions are more severe at anchor or underway.
“Our plan is to continue as long as we can and to hopefully complete a circumnavigation. We have slowed down to really enjoy the places we’ve been, which has increased our time aboard longer than we initially set out for. There are so many places we wish to visit, and while we know we can’t see everything, we’re sure going to try.”
Cally Duncan lives aboard a 38 foot boat as a solo female sailor in the Caribbean
“I grew up going to our cabin on the lake, enjoying the calm mornings, swimming in the summer and waterskiing with friends and siblings. However, that was in Canada, where that lake was frozen for half the year. I knew I wanted to recreate that lifestyle as an adult, but buying a waterfront property on my own meant working for many years and missing out on life in the meantime.
“Living on a sailboat means I get the best of both worlds: I can travel and take my home with me while I work on board. And it is the most waterfront property you could possibly have! I can sail around the seasons and avoid winter. And because I own my boat outright, I can keep my living expenses significantly lower than I could on land.
“As a solo sailor on board SV Tala I have sailed 3,500 nautical miles in 9 months. From Connecticut, USA to where I am presently at in Le Marin, Martinique in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. I previously owned a boat with with a partner and have also crewed on other boats, so in total, I’ve sailed almost 15,000 nautical miles!
“I make my living by working online as a bookkeeper and through my YouTube channel and Patreon. I don’t have rent or a mortgage, I don’t have a work commute, and my boat is powered by sails and the sun, so my fuel bill is significantly lower. I only eat out only as a rare treat and I typically travel in countries where the cost of living is lower. I also don’t own a car, so I have no costs associated with that. Living in a floating ‘tiny home’ leads you to need less stuff and view material possessions differently, so this also saves me money in the long run.
“There are so many reason I love living on a boat. I’m personally torn between being a homebody and loving to travel, so living on a boat gives me the best of both worlds. Sailing also makes a lot of incredible destinations more accessible and affordable. Imagine the accumulating cost of interisland flights and accommodations on remote islands in the Caribbean or South Pacific if you didn’t visit by boat. Being a solo sailor has also given me a lot more confidence. Lastly, the community on the water is unbelievable. Everyone helps each other out, and the bonds you form are so deep because of this difficult lifestyle and challenge you have all taken on together.
“But as they say, the highs are high but the lows are low: bad weather, dodgy anchorages and ports, breakdowns and more all come to mind when I think of the worst parts about living on a boat. However, you really come to know your own strength through these lows and what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger.
“I will live and work remotely on a boat as long as it makes me happy, though it would be hard to give up ocean showers and living off the sun and the wind.”
Guest writer: Erin Carey, Director of Roam Generation, the only fully remote PR agency in the world and the only one run from a yacht!
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