company | Apr 4, 2023
Work/Life Balance...at Sea!
When I joined Hookdeck as a product engineer last year, I felt like it was a good fit for many reasons, but I was particularly excited to be able to put one of my long-time goals into action: the freedom to work without restricting my ability to experience new things. This goal is all about autonomy, and really helped drive me to become a programmer in the first place, but because of Covid I had never actually gotten the chance to live out the life of travel that I had been working to set up for myself.
This year, I’m trying out the digital nomad life for real. It started in January, when an opportunity came up that I couldn’t turn down. My dad had just bought a sailboat, and he was retiring to spend winters on the boat and away from the cold of Quebec. I decided to join him on the adventure and drive down to Florida to fix up his new boat so we could sail it to the Bahamas together. If you’re wondering how I worked during this time, that’s a great question, and I’ll tell you how I did it.
I’m not an experienced sailor, and I’ve certainly never worked as a developer while sailing. But I seized this opportunity because I was eager to learn more about myself, and for a long time I had been preparing for a challenge just like this. So in mid-January, my dad and I packed up our stuff and drove down to Florida to begin our sunny adventure.
Working through boating conditions
Once we got to Florida, it was time to get to work on the boat. It was a week of real elbow grease, cleaning out the boat, falling asleep, doing it again the next day. But…we had a boat! The sea gives me goosebumps (in a good way), and the next step was open waters and it was so close.
Before we left, I made sure I had everything I needed to work on the boat. There were some things my dad and I could foresee, and thankfully Internet access was one of them (I used Starlink RV).
The problem we actually ran into was the amount of navigation we had to do. Because it was our first time doing this trip, even though my dad himself is an experienced sailor, I didn’t expect to spend so much time navigating, and a lot happens when sailing that is unpredictable.
The extra time spent tending to the boat and staying on course meant that I was working at night to meet deadlines, swaying with the cabin as the six foot waves rocked our boat to sleep. We sailed for about three weeks, and there were times when I would feel really tired but then I would catch a fish off the side of the boat or my dad and I would catch a sunset and I’d smile and remember why I was there.
Making it to the Bahamas
I felt really privileged to be able to make this trip with my dad, and that feeling really hit home when we made it to the islands. After such a crazy adventure and weeks of canned spaghetti, I was ready to see these beaches.
We anchored our boat and took a dinghy to explore the different islands, and it was beautiful. We were alone, walking in crystal clear water, collecting different seafoods for our dinners.
I stayed for a few days to fish and explore, until it was time to fly back home and leave my dad to enjoy the rest of his “winter” in the Bahamas.
Things I’d change for next time
32 days after we left, I landed back in Montreal feeling tired and happy and smelling like salt water. I learned a lot over the month. With this adventure under my belt, I now had an idea how to plan for next time.
First of all, I learned the importance of a solid itinerary. In the future, I will put more effort into looking into how much time each aspect of the journey will take so that I have a better idea of what to expect. Of course, the sea can be unpredictable, but if I sail again I will make sure to plan it so that I only have to navigate every other day so that I can spend more full days on work.
I would also not move around as much; once we got to the Bahamas, I think we could have spent more time enjoying each spot. Instead, I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to see everything and spent too much time stressing about it. In reality, I enjoyed myself the most when I gave myself room to breathe.
Overall, it was really cool to finally get to experience a trip like this where I got to learn hands-on how I’m able to sustain a productive work life while traveling the world. It may have been a little ambitious as a first-time experiment, but I’m happy with myself for having done it successfully.
Getting to learn more about myself and how I work while also learning about new places is really exciting, and I feel like my team at Hookdeck can relate. Stay tuned for more stories, because I know I’m not the only one planning adventures.
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