Elena Manighetti and Ryan Os­borne earn an in­come from their lap­tops while cruis­ing their cata­ma­ran full time

Yachting Monthly - - CONTENTS -

Earn money while you sail. One cruis­ing cou­ple ex­plain how tech­nol­ogy helps them sail and work

We’d spent months soul search­ing, think­ing of ways to quit the rat race and live more ad­ven­tur­ous lives. In the sum­mer of 2016, on hol­i­day, Ryan and I found our­selves on a beau­ti­ful beach in Mal­lorca. Sud­denly, the an­swer to our ques­tions was right in front of us: a charm­ing yacht an­chored in the bay. On that day, we promised each other we’d look into the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing cruis­ing and earn­ing money while sail­ing. We spent the next few months read­ing cruis­ing mag­a­zines, look­ing at boats for sale and de­vour­ing sail­ing-re­lated books. Ex­actly a year later, in May 2017, we cast off the lines and started liv­ing our dream.


We’d heard the buzz­words ‘dig­i­tal nomad’ be­fore but had never thought much of it. As soon as we looked into the phe­nom­e­non, we re­alised that any lap­top-based free­lance job could be done re­motely. We grew more and more con­fi­dent that cruis­ing while young, on a low bud­get, work­ing along the way ‘Pardey style’ was a very real pos­si­bil­ity.

Lin and Larry Pardey led the very same life­style from the 1970s on­wards, sail­ing around the world while earn­ing a liv­ing in different ports through writ­ing. They didn’t have it easy back then – they had to find work in each coun­try, fill in the pa­per­work, wait months at a time to cash in their cheques and post off hun­dreds of pages of their pre­cious work in for­eign post of­fices.

This re­mark­able cou­ple is just one ex­am­ple of the work­ing cruis­ing com­mu­nity. All over the world, there are av­er­age peo­ple lead­ing nor­mal lives on the wa­ter while mak­ing a liveli­hood – from de­liv­ery cap­tains and so­cial me­dia man­agers, to handy­men and ac­coun­tants.

While sail­ing in West­ern Europe, Ryan and I met other work­ing cruis­ers. They were ei­ther find­ing em­ploy­ment in new coun­tries for a few months a year on shore as builders, acupunc­tur­ists and den­tists or they were work­ing from their boats as writ­ers, beau­ti­cians and web de­vel­op­ers. Some lived fru­gally off pas­sive in­come, such as rent­ing their home.

To­day’s tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments make this life­style even more achiev­able. This means it’s pos­si­ble to work on the go, even while un­der­way, rather than hav­ing to stop in a spe­cific port when money runs low. It’s a huge ad­van­tage and makes life on board much eas­ier.

With hous­ing prices ris­ing steadily, re­mote jobs be­com­ing eas­ier to ob­tain, the grow­ing phe­nom­e­non of min­i­mal­ism and the huge pop­u­lar­ity of Youtube sail­ing chan­nels, we be­lieve more and more young peo­ple and fam­i­lies will soon move on to the wa­ter.


When we started search­ing for the per­fect boat, we didn’t have a big bud­get. A little re­search showed it didn’t mat­ter – there were sturdy, well-built glass­fi­bre boats from the ’70s and ’80s sit­ting on moor­ing buoys or parked in boat­yards all over the UK, wait­ing to be loved again. We ini­tially looked at a mix of mono­hulls and cata­ma­rans – Wester­lies, Prouts, Contes­sas, and Heav­enly Twins. Even­tu­ally, we set­tled on out Heav­enly Twins 26 cata­ma­ran, Kit­ti­wake. The space, com­fort, and down­wind per­for­mance this little boat of­fered were in­com­pa­ra­ble with

mono­hulls of the same price (un­der £10K). We es­pe­cially liked the safe cen­tre cock­pit, the shal­low draft, the sea­wor­thy low pro­file and the small rig. It was the per­fect first boat for a cou­ple learn­ing to sail. A year and a half after buy­ing Kit­ti­wake, when we look back to an an­chor­age from shore, we still can’t spot a boat that’s better suited to us.


Al­though we saved enough money to sus­tain our­selves for a year and set a con­tin­gency fund aside, I hated the idea of set­ting off on our cruise with­out an in­come. Five months be­fore our de­par­ture date, I started look­ing for po­ten­tial clients. Hunt­ing for work in my field as a con­tent mar­keter made things eas­ier – I could use my ex­pe­ri­ence, per­sonal con­nec­tions, and Linkedin. Three months later I had two fixed clients and I was earn­ing a modest sec­ond salary (enough to pay the bills), so I quit my day job. The time spent build­ing my busi­ness on shore was worth ev­ery week­end I worked. It meant I had a fairly re­li­able in­come. On the other hand, Ryan, be­ing a civil en­gi­neer, had to rein­vent him­self. He had a pas­sion for de­sign, so taught him­self to code. Now he takes on web de­sign and prac­ti­cal boat work projects. He also ed­its the videos we pro­duce – tips and tricks vlogs, as well as episodes about our sail­ing ad­ven­tures – which we pub­lish on Youtube to earn ex­tra cash. Build­ing the ‘Sail­ing Kit­ti­wake’ brand through our Youtube chan­nel and blog has also helped us find more writ­ing and de­sign work.

We be­lieve the best way to build a steady in­come is to set up a num­ber of streams of rev­enue. This way, should a client drop out or not pay on time, money is still com­ing in.


Liv­ing at an­chor was al­ways our plan, so we pre­pared our­selves and the boat for it and we got used to it from day one. We’re al­most com­pletely in­de­pen­dent from shore – the only things we need are food and wa­ter. We have plenty of so­lar pan­els (560W), we can get on­line through our phones and we en­joy show­ers on board. If we wanted to, we could pro­vi­sion, stock up on wa­ter and live at an­chor for a month with­out go­ing ashore.

We don’t feel liv­ing on the hook is at all a sac­ri­fice. We en­joy all as­pects of it: pri­vacy, the views, swim­ming and ex­plor­ing in the dinghy. The key to learn­ing to love an­chor­ing is do­ing it of­ten so it be­comes the norm.


We pre­dom­i­nantly use our mo­bile phones as hotspots and oc­ca­sion­ally go to shore to use wifi if we suf­fer from cabin fever. A 4G mo­bile con­nec­tion with good sig­nal is gen­er­ally faster than a stan­dard pub­lic

wifi. This means that even up­load­ing big files, such as videos, is much faster (about a tenth of the time) on a mo­bile net­work. For this rea­son, we choose to in­vest in mo­bile data pack­ages rather than mul­ti­ple drinks out at a café. It’s more cost ef­fi­cient and we feel far more pro­duc­tive in a quiet an­chor­age than in a busy beach bar. We own and use a to­tal of four SIM cards from different coun­tries at the mo­ment.

Next year we plan to work more un­der­way dur­ing our off-watches so we can have more free time at an­chor. As most of our sail­ing is coastal, we of­ten have good re­cep­tion. With a dry cen­tre cock­pit and no heel­ing, it’s easy to work from a lap­top.


Our change from landlubber­s to cruis­ers was a grad­ual one. We lived on and off the boat since we bought it. Once we set off, it was easy to adapt to our brand new lives, also thanks to the re­search we did be­fore­hand. We’ve had a cou­ple of wobbles since leav­ing Fal­mouth. We found our­selves in a storm in the Isles of Scilly, where we had to re­lay a May­day call for a ves­sel that was sink­ing nearby. We also learned the hard way that fish­ing boats rarely re­spect col­li­sion reg­u­la­tions by very nearly col­lid­ing with one. Th­ese lessons have proved in­valu­able. We’re grate­ful we’ve come out of some dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions un­scathed and wiser.


Work­ing re­motely from a sail­boat means meet­ings be­come Skype calls, up­dates turn into on­line chats and briefs into emails. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion might be slightly de­layed due to a po­ten­tial time dif­fer­ence, so it’s best to look for flex­i­ble clients and seek projects that aren’t very ur­gent. Pas­sage plan­ning needs to take work into ac­count too.

Hav­ing to earn a liv­ing while sail­ing can be chal­leng­ing at times. We some­times can’t take ad­van­tage of a good weather win­dow due to an im­pend­ing dead­line. The other lim­i­ta­tion we have is that we aren’t con­fi­dent ven­tur­ing to less-pop­u­lated ar­eas in case the mo­bile net­works are weak and sparse. We aren’t plan­ning any ocean pas­sages yet ei­ther, but if we do we’ll have to dis­cuss time away with our clients.

When work is stress­ful, sit­ting in a small space can feel suf­fo­cat­ing. If we start show­ing signs of burnout, we go for a row in the dinghy or a walk ashore.


While we recog­nise we have some lim­i­ta­tions, we feel that work­ing keeps us busy, ac­tive, and fo­cused. It may slow us down from time to time but it means we have a chance to get to know places and peo­ple better. Work­ing while cruis­ing is ul­ti­mately the only rea­son why we can af­ford to live on a sail­boat.

We be­lieve the ef­fort and com­pro­mises in­volved are def­i­nitely worth the slower pace of life, the sight of dol­phins play­ing with our bows, the sun­down­ers shared with like­minded cruis­ers and the freshly caught fish eaten in front of a beau­ti­ful sun­set. Visit www.sail­ingkit­ti­ and­ingkit­ti­wake

Be­ing able to creep into shal­low wa­ter has opened up many more an­chor­ages

Moor­ing up to town quay walls is free and it’s a great way to en­joy easy land ac­cess ev­ery now and then

An­chor­ing for long pe­ri­ods gives the cou­ple time to work on­line us­ing mo­bile data

VIDEO ED­I­TOR Ryan ed­its the cou­ple’s Youtube videos

WRIT­ERS Lin and Larry Pardey have writ­ten 12 books at sea

Elena Manighetti is a mar­keter, writer and vlog­ger sail­ing West­ern Europe with part­ner Ryan aboard a Heav­enly Twins 26

One of the ad­van­tages of own­ing a small cata­ma­ran is be­ing able to beach it to dry out

The dig­i­tal nomad’s life might be busy, but there’s al­ways time to sun­bathe on deck

Elena at the helm, sail­ing out of San­tander

Elena’s of­fice: the sa­loon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.