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Culture

On the Water: What It’s Like To Live and Work on a Sailboat

More than a decade ago, Miranda, one of our whip-smart project managers, and her now husband were on a cruise in the Caribbean. While jammed shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of fellow passengers on the deck of the cruise ship, they spotted a sailboat anchored off an uninhabited island and two people relaxing in a hammock on the beach, blissfully removed from the crowds of tourists. 

They looked at each other and asked, “Why aren’t we doing that?”

Shortly after, living on a sailboat and traveling the world became their retirement dream. However, after some unexpected losses in their families, they realized life is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. 

“Instead of waiting for retirement, we hatched a five-year plan to sell everything and move onto a sailboat,” says Miranda. “We went from knowing absolutely nothing about sailing to eventually getting certified to pilot a 60-foot boat in ocean waters in the span of only three years.” 

Miranda got her first fully remote job in 2019, and the pair ended up completing their five-year plan in just four. 

During the first COVID-19 lockdown in the United States, their offer on a boat was accepted, so they listed their house in Minneapolis for sale and drove to Florida to move aboard. 

In the two years since, they’ve traveled “most of the length of the U.S. East Coast” and are currently in the Bahamas for several months before they prepare to head back north for hurricane season.

To find out how Miranda’s minimizing her environmental impact, who she thinks is cut out for life at sea, and what she enjoys most about working at Modern Tribe, keep reading. 

What made you decide to live on a sailboat? 

For us, the draw in this life is about being able to travel while having our entire house with all our creature comforts—and our small dog—with us all the time. We’re not locked down to one place but can also spend enough time in a new area to really get to know the culture and community before moving along. We generate all of our electricity with solar panels and a wind generator, so there’s a sense of self-sufficiency and minimizing our environmental impact there as well. 

We’re obviously big fans of sailing and being on the water. It’s not without its difficulties, but the rewards of this lifestyle are well worth it. 

How does living on a sailboat impact your work life?

For the most part, the difficulty is planning ahead enough to make sure I have sufficient internet for video calls and the work I need to do. We carry SIM cards and hotspots for at least two different cell network carriers wherever we go, which ensures some redundancy if one network doesn’t have good coverage in any given location. 

It also means that we can really only travel between destinations on weekends or when I take time off, which can be tricky as we’re at the mercy of wind and weather for planning passages. The trick is not being in a rush or having deadlines for when we need to be in a specific place, but that’s a general sailing rule anyway.

Of course, there are some days when storms or rough anchorages can make work more difficult, but I think that’s the case anywhere you live. I’d rather have a rough couple of hours staring down at a laptop while the boat rocks in a storm than commute through traffic and snowstorms every day.

Do you think living on a sailboat contributes to your work-life balance

Absolutely. During the day, I can take a break to go watch dolphins as they swim around the boat, hop in the ocean for a quick swim, or enjoy my lunch out in the cockpit surrounded by beautiful scenery. 

On days when I want to get off the boat, it’s easy to find a nearby coffee shop or restaurant to work from and take in the local sights. Just last week, I took a two-hour lunch break to head over and dive on a nearby reef. I remember thinking it was the best lunch break I’ve ever had. 

It’s also helpful to have the routine of a regular work day to keep me grounded and productive, rather than falling into permanent vacation mode and taking this life for granted. 

How did you find your way to Modern Tribe?

I’ve worked in web and digital project management for over a decade and was working remotely for a nonprofit when COVID hit. Unfortunately, as all of their funding dried up due to the pandemic, they had to restructure and cancel their tech and web development services. I eventually found a listing for a project manager at Modern Tribe and immediately fell in love with the culture and overall vibe during the interview process. 

What do you enjoy most about working here?

The culture and the people, hands down. Modern Tribe has some of the most kind, fun, and talented people I’ve ever worked with. I love the distributed teams because they mean we get to work with people who have different backgrounds, viewpoints, and cultures, and I strongly believe that’s part of what contributes to the great work Modern Tribe does. 

The work-life balance is also incredible here, and we get to work on really exciting projects for great clients. 

Is there anything else you think we should know?

Anyone can do this! Neither my husband nor I grew up sailing or lived on the ocean before. We took courses on everything from charting and navigation to emergency medical training and weather prediction—and of course, sailing. All it takes is a desire to learn and the willingness to embrace the unknown a bit. We certainly have days where this life is tough, but the good days more than make up for it. 

Also, because I get a lot of questions about it, our boat is a 35-foot Island Packet 350 monohull sailboat. We have a full kitchen, fridge, freezer, bathroom, shower—with hot water— and a guest room with a king-size bed. We’re definitely not roughing it and even have A/C and heat if we need it. I’m always happy to talk more about this lifestyle, so feel free to reach out with any questions!

You heard her. Miranda’s happy to chat about boat life! Modern Tribe and Liquid Web folks can contact her in Slack at @Miranda and @miranda.krapf, respectively. Everyone else can reach out via email at mirskysailing@gmail.com or follow her adventures on Instagram at mirandaecho.

To learn more about our remote agency’s globally distributed team, check out Where In the World Is Modern Tribe?