Working on My Business from a Boat

For all of last week, I ran my one-person company, Poker Copilot, from a boat, while I sailed in the Adriatic Sea.

A friend of mine had a week’s free access to a 41 foot cruising yacht in Croatia. At very short notice he asked me if I wanted to join. The only major expense would be the last-minute peak season airfare from my home in Barcelona to Dubrovnik. My answer: “Hell, yeah!”

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But there was a problem. I’m running a one-person software business. And no matter where I go for holidays, I like to spend at least an hour a day answering customer emails, making sure the discussion forum has no unanswered messages, analysing any crash reports, and responding to issue reports. And I was going to be on a boat for a week. As it turned out, the problem was solvable.

The first issue was Internet connectivity. Croatian Telecom sells a prepaid SIM card package aimed at tourists for €7. Load up some credit, and a daily 3G unlimited data connection cost only €1.50 per a day. We were within good 3G range almost the entire time. I used my iPhone as a “personal hotspot”, aka tethering, and could work on my MacBook Pro from the boat, while at sea. The bandwidth wasn’t good enough for big uploads, but it was great for emails and surfing.

The second issue was power. For the whole week we never docked where there was AC power for the boat, so we had to rely on the boat’s battery. That meant I couldn’t recharge my MacBook Pro, which requires mains power. Mindful of this, I  rationed the computer’s power over the week. This meant that I couldn’t do any programming, as that rapidly drains the battery. Astonishingly, with careful usage, the battery lasted all week. If desperate I could have taken the computer to shore in any of numerous small harbour villages and charged it.

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The third issue was seasickness. While my friend was skippering, I’d go down to the cabin for an hour to do my work. I discovered that while sailing, working in the cabin makes me feel queasy. Even as  I write, the memory of working in the cabin is bringing back the queasy feeling. The solution to this would be to do the work before setting sail in the morning, or after anchoring in the evening. Instead of hiding in the cabin while sailing, it is much nicer to be on the deck, enjoying the beautiful Dalmatian coast.

I wish I could describe how blissful it is to start the day by waking up on a yacht, having a coffee and some breakfast, then diving straight off the yacht into the clear and calm Croatian waters. And to be able to run a business at the same time? Superb.