Monday, November 25, 2013

Working from the Boat - Day Job

People often ask me if I am retired, or how I can live on a boat while working.  The reality is that if you have the type of job that doesn't require you to be in 1 spot, this is a very workable solution.  In my case, I travel often to customer sites and to see employees and prospects.  If you do any kind of traveling for work, you have likely already adapted to being able to work remotely.  For example, I have found I can be fairly productive while at an airport, a hotel, or even while realaxing and enjoying a meal out.  

When I am home (on our boat) that also means that I can work and be productive there as well.  The boat has a Navigation Station like most sailboats (Think Mini office without the doors).  In my case, this consists of a monitor that is mounted in the center of the Nav Station that both doubles as an extra monitor for my laptop when I am working, or the heart of navigation and computing for the boat itself.  

In the picture in the sidebar, you can see that my desk is as messy as most desks you see in someone’s office.  Sadly in my case, it is also filled with a pair of sailing gloves, some line, a bunch of wires for the electronics like the router and my headset.

To make hearing and speaking to people, I have a pair of pretty good headphones to use on my cell phone or my laptop whether I am taking a call on my cell phone, or Voice over IP software such as Skype.  They are noise canceling which comes in handy when the wind is howling through the rigging above.  (See video clip a little later to see why this can come in so handy)

When Deb is not on board and I am working, I will use the large LED TV in the Salon as my monitor and sit on the salon settee.  It is a bit more comfortable and I like the extra real estate for the screen.     This was the case last week as I was sitting in the salon working.  It was a great day because it was still warm but overcast so no bright sunlight for a change, I had the hatches all opened up and had a nice gentle breeze running through the boat.  Half way through the call the wind started to pick up, then it started to pick up a lot, and I could hear the howling in the distance as the wind blew through the rigging of the row of sailboats just upwind of me.  While on the call, I muted my microphone and closed the large forward hatch.  As I finished that the sky opened up with a torrential rain pour.  I was quickly closing the 4 hatches in the roof that I had open and another 7 opening ports on the side of the boat.  All of this was going on while I was still on this conference call and un-muting the microphone to respond to a question or comment then muting as quickly as I could again.  

By the time the call ended, the wind was blowing a steady 20 knots and gusting to about 30.  The rain subsided for the most part and when I went back up top, the temperature felt like it dropped 15 degrees in that hour.

I continued to work the rest of the day on meetings and phone calls remotely, however the wind really had the boat hobby horsing and rocking pretty good.  When the wind starts to blow that hard, there are a few interesting sounds that happen on the boat, that we are just used to, but others wonder what they are.  I attached a small video below that shows me sitting on the salon settee working.  You can get a sense for how much motion there was on the boat this day, and we were tied up to a dock.  If you listen closely you can hear a few things in the background.  The first is the wind that you can still hear howling if you listen carefully.  This is with all of the hatches battened down and closed up tight.  You will also hear a bit of a ringing sound or long dull clank.   This sound is actually made from two different things that run up the inside of the mast.  There are wires that run from the base of the mast to the top of the mast for lighting on top of the mast, antenna, etc.  This is combined with the lines that run up the mast for raising the sails.  When the boat rocks a certain way they hit on the inside of the mast making this sound.    The other is a loud thump , this is actually something that you should not hear, but I still had an antenna for the TV run up on the flag halyard and when the wind would blow it hit the stays (the metal wires that run from the sides of the boat to the top of the mast to stabilize it).  It is a lot like a giant piano or guitar string being plucked.

So there you have it, a little insight into working from the boat.  98% of the time, it isn't much different than working from your office, but on some days the office is bouncing around a bit.