Welcome to Boatlife stories. In this interview series, we talk to liveaboard around the globe about how they made their Boatlife dream a reality. In particular, we will look deeper into how they moved on board and are now financing their life on board. We will publish a new story every 2 weeks, so subscribe to our newsletter to avoid missing it.
Today we are talking to Victoria and Mike, who run a property business in the Uk while sailing the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Please introduce yourselves:
Victoria: We are Victoria & Mike (34), and we live on our 40ft Fountaine Pajot sailing catamaran “Havanesey Day” with our Havanese dogs (whom we named the boat after!) and our 7-month-old daughter, Clementine. We took delivery of the boat from the factory in La Rochelle in 2019. Since then, we have sailed around the Med, including the coasts of Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Montenegro. We initially planned to live on the boat full time, but we learned a 50/50 split between boatlife and going back to the UK works best for us.
How do you finance your Boatlife?
Mike: We run our own property business back in the UK, which includes a couple of different elements to it. For example, we have a few Airbnb properties, some commercial properties and when we find the right property, we flip them. Besides that, we run a property podcast and media business.
Victoria: Mike & I used to run the business together along with a team based in the UK. However, since moving to our catamaran, I have taken a step back from the company to focus on the boat and, more recently, our family.
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Did you build the business as liveaboard living on your catamaran?
Mike: No, we had been building our business up for many years before moving onto the boat, so the income was already there. Our focus was on how we could continue to run and build the business remotely and what systems and people we’d need to implement to enable the transition. I wouldn’t say we got it right straight away, but this is our fourth summer on board and it seems to get easier/smoother every year!
How much time do you invest in your company?
Victoria: On average Mike probably works about 20-30 hours a week. He has a lot of flexibility, allowing him to structure work around boatlife. Traditionally he would utilise the time on long passages to catch up with work, however, with the addition of a baby on board, nap times are now office hours!
Do you follow any kind of liveaboard work routine?
Mike: Weekends are a bit of a thing because we have employees, so we are aware they aren’t working at the weekend. But aside from that, the days are mostly meaningless, and we are able to juggle work around weather windows, family life and exploring!
How often do you need to travel back to the UK to run your business?
Victoria: We have a team based in the UK, so it’s not strictly necessary to go back to the UK. That being said, Mike has popped back twice so far this summer. We avoided return trips in previous years mainly due to the Pandemic restrictions. Both times have been very short visits to sign paperwork. We are lucky that we are sailing fairly close to home so day trips are possible!
Mike: Spending the winters back in the UK obviously helps a lot in running our business on land. It gives us time to really focus on any issues that have cropped up during the summer and get some quality time with the team.
What do you think are the requisites for a company to be done remotely on a boat?
Mike: I think there has to be flexibility, in two senses. You need a job/business which understands that boat life sometimes involves uncertainty, and you might need to move a meeting because the weather has turned and you need to change anchorage. On the other hand, I think you need to be prepared to sacrifice some elements of boat life (perhaps missing out on certain stops, or spending time in a marina when you would rather be sailing) to ensure that work commitments get met. It’s definitely a compromise, and I’d rather not have to work at all, but I’d rather need to work from the boat than not be able to enjoy this adventure at all.
Do you have a dedicated boatlife office space on board?
Victoria: We have a chart table, but there isn’t a comfortable supported chair with it, so instead, most of the time, we sit at the cockpit dining table! Sometimes if Mike has a podcast to record, he will sit at my dressing table down in the cabin, but the heat in the boat makes this way too uncomfortable for long periods of time. Being outside has the added benefit of being able to jump in and cool off in between meetings as well.
What do you need on board to run your liveaboard business?
Mike: WiFi, our laptops, and our coffee maker! We thought the laptops would struggle more with the marine environment, but they’re both holding up well. The WiFi has been more of a challenge – initially investing in silly equipment like long range antenna, but eventually accepting that tourist sim cards in a cheap router are usually the best option. And when we’re too remote to get signal, we try to shut off and enjoy the moment.
Victoria: To keep in touch with our team we also need all the usual apps like Zoom and Slack. It works well to keep the communication flowing and when the chances arises we also invite them out to the boat before now for strategy weekends.
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