Working at TaxJar has one obvious major perk – I can work from anywhere I want! When I shared with the team that I live and work aboard a sailboat, they had a lot of questions…
I have lived aboard boats for over 6 years now. It’s my favorite way to live and I don’t think I could go back to living on land full time. Last year we untied the dock lines and now live “on the hook” (at anchor) instead of in a slip in a marina. Even though I live off the Pacific coast in the ocean or somewhere along a river (it changes!), I’ve still got to be able to knock out a full days work and connect with my team throughout the day. So how do I do it?
For internet, I use a Verizon hotspot device, as well as my cell phone. We have installed a compatible signal booster and will be installing a better antenna than the one it came with – mounted on the top of the 70 foot mast! This theoretically should give us the ability to be 50 miles or more away from a cell tower and still get enough signal.
Power production and consumption is extremely important. We have solar panels that provide the power we need from day to day, though sometimes we run the engine and use the alternator to give the batteries a little extra boost to keep them healthy. We make sure not to leave any lights on, and we’re highly aware of what is using power, how much, and for how long. Understanding how electricity and batteries work becomes very important when you live on a boat.
This also means that there may be a need for some specialized equipment to charge the technology needed to work remotely. Though we do have an inverter to take 12v from the batteries and make 110v like your normal household electricity, this can result in a lot of loss (up to 20%!) so we don’t like to use it much. We use 12v car charger style plugs for our phones and hotspot device. However, some pieces won’t have a car charger type of plug readily available, they are cost prohibitive, or again incur high power loss – as with a lot of boat work, it can come down to a lot of do-it-yourself. I will be hacking a power supply for my external monitor to run on our 12v batteries.
When living on a boat, it is especially important to be aware of what sort of weather is coming up over the next few days, and to prepare for it. We have to think if the weather will cause our anchor to drag or any other issues on the boat. After all, we can’t let things get blown away!
Some interesting things can happen as well when living on a sailboat. For instance, the local animals get very used to us being here and we get to enjoy watching their daily activities. While it’s incredible to watch and listen to them, we’re always on the lookout for birds who make their nests on the boat and swimming squirrels who try to make their way into the cabin. (This actually happened once!)
Those are just a few things to think about when working remotely in an alternative environment. We can’t wait to keep exploring from our boat and continuing to work and live wherever we want. I wouldn’t trade my coffee on the helm, watching groups of kayakers paddle by me mid-meeting, or even figuring out how to rig our power supplies in the most MacGyver way, for anything in the world.