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Merel Elsinga

­­WFB: Working from Boat­­

Illustration of a sailboat passing by a cheerful landscape of rolling hills and mountains. There are two houses nestled in the hills and a hot air balloon flying overhead.
Illustration of a sailboat passing by a cheerful landscape of rolling hills and mountains. There are two houses nestled in the hills and a hot air balloon flying overhead.
Copyright: sentavio

I am not only an editor, but also a sailing aficionado. To support my passion, my husband and I cruise through the BC waters on our sailboat Andiamo! for weeks at a time—more weeks than a person would have holidays. My aim is to make the transition from home office to boat office seamless.

The floating office

I have to set up my MacBook on the dining table belowdecks. Electric power on Andiamo! is limited when not connected to a power source on shore. I can only charge my laptop when the engine is running or when the sun is out, because that’s when our solar panels produce enough output to run the navigation instruments, refrigeration system and office electronics. So, I often take full advantage of my laptop’s battery capacity.

There’s neither room nor power for a printer, so there is a little bit of planning involved before leaving home. I bring all the printed versions of style guides and other documents I may need. My second copy of The Canadian Oxford Dictionary lives on board.

The temptations of “working from boat”

I could be working during a beautifully smooth downwind sail, but that means missing out on the best sailing. I also sail when we go upwind. In those conditions, the movement of Andiamo! is far too lively for me to sit at the table down below and focus, and I’d better make sure I have my laptop stowed securely. Downwind sailing, upwind sailing … when do I actually work?

Creating the right conditions

In order for me to work, the boat needs to be in a relatively calm state. Departure is normally after 11 am, so a few hours are available for work after breakfast. Sometimes there’s no wind, so I can get more daytime hours in while my husband is on watch, motoring along.

We’re not on the move every day. Most of the time, Andiamo! is stationary somewhere, either tied up (to a dock or a mooring ball) or at anchor. But often I would prefer to explore our beautiful surroundings (#StetWalk), rather than work. On days like those, I often don’t start working until “cruisers’ midnight” (after dinner). Luckily, I’m a night owl.

Since we are not sailing to a schedule, we can fit our trips around my work. When required, I can work for days on end for as long as necessary.

Guaranteed Wi-Fi worries

I don’t need internet connectivity a lot; I can spend days working offline. Marinas usually supply Wi-Fi, though the signal is often not great. That’s why I once ended up hosting an Editors Canada Zoom meeting from the marina office at Vancouver’s Fishermen’s Wharf.

However, I get a bit antsy when we sail in areas without cellphone towers. No towers, no phone, no internet. Going a few days with no signal is particularly challenging.

Off the grid proactively

It can take the entire day to sail up remote Jervis Inlet from Sidney to Princess Louisa Marine Park, with the spectacular Chatterbox Falls. We usually stay for three days, then take a day to sail back to “connected” society. Of course, I let my regular clients know that I will be off the grid for several days. But what I worry about most is missing out on new inquiries. It’s as if they wait for me to be off the grid before they appear.

“Working from boat” is possible with some planning and creativity. And coming back to my home office makes me appreciate even more the readily available luxuries we so easily take for granted.

What place do you sometimes work from, outside your home office?


Previous post from Merel Elsinga: The Editing Essentials Test Tested: Unlock Your Editing Career

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About the author

Merel Elsinga

Merel Elsinga is a copy editor, proofreader and advocate of plain language based in Sidney, BC. She has a background in Dutch law and a post-professional lingering passion for sailing and cooking. Visit her website at or connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.


4 Comments on “­­WFB: Working from Boat­­”

  • Robin Larin


    What an amazing lifestyle, Merel! I can just imagine the views (but might find them too distracting if I had to work on a boat!).

  • Anita Jenkins



  • Merel, I love that you’re able to get out and enjoy sailing. I did 19 months of WFA—working from Airbnb—from the fall of 2016 to the summer of 2018. With my family, I travelled through 11 countries in Central and South America. I can relate to the challenges of poor connectivity and of forcing oneself to work while in a beautiful locale. We were fully off the grid twice, once during a hurricane in Costa Rica and once when Nicaragua’s entire power grid went dark in a windstorm. For the former, I could warn my team and my clients, but for the latter, well, let’s just say it flexed my stress coping mechanisms! Now that we’ve been home for a few years, I’m itching for another round of WFA…

    • Hi Karen,

      Wonderful to read about your WFA experiences. That almost makes WFB sound rather tame. I would love to hear where you are thinking of taking your WFA career next.

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