Instead of using your energies working IN your business, I challenge you to work ON your business. Leverage technology, build the systems, processes, methods and techniques to set yourself free.
We’ve spent 150 nights on board since leaving Long Island and today is our 10th day since entering the Bahamas. We’ve settled in very nicely here on Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos. Most weekdays we spend at least a few hours working from the boat. Today I got thinking about freedom of time and place, digital nomadism and running a modern business.
Have you ever dreamed of operating a successful business from a tropical beach? Do you fantasize about sailing over the horizon and still being able to earn a healthy income? Would you like to travel for months or years at a time without your business missing a beat? I’m here to tell you that all of this is possible.
I won’t go as far as to say that anyone with a laptop and a dream can take off and do this. It does requires careful planning and a willingness to change the way you think about your business. But many ventures can rather easily be transformed to provide for lots of freedom for its owners. I’m talking about freedom to spend more time with family and friends, freedom to travel, explore new interests, learn, volunteer, or do just about anything you want to do with your life.
With some careful design decisions and the right know-how it’s possible for an entrepreneur to build a successful business from the ground up that provides freedom of time and place. But location independence is only part of the puzzle. What good is being on the beach in Tahiti if you have to work 14 hours a day to keep things running?
What good is being on the beach in Tahiti if you have to work 14 hours a day to keep things running?
Once you’ve severed the shackles that tie to you working from a certain place at a certain time you’re about halfway there! The next step is building business processes that don’t require your constant intervention and incrementally making small changes that reduce your workload.
The world’s wireless networks are getting faster and more reliable every day and the coverage areas have expanded dramatically. Excellent laptops can be had for a few hundred dollars and modern smartphones are incredibly powerful.
Working from a desk in an office, wasting away under fluorescent tubes in a cubicle and exchanging your priceless hours of life for money are an antiquated trap. If you’re like me, you understand that there’s a better way. Instead of using your energies working IN your business, I challenge you to work ON your business. Leverage technology, build the systems, processes, methods and techniques to set yourself free.
Leeward Yacht Club Green Turtle Cay Abaco, Bahamas
I love it when a plan comes together. For years, Cindy and I have dreamed about buying a cruising boat and taking off for the islands. At first it seemed like an impossible dream — an irresponsible fantasy. Responsible adults don’t do these things! But soon the conversation changed from “Can we do this?” to “HOW can we do this?”
How could we afford to do this? What about the business? We couldn’t really just take off for 7 or 8 months and go sailing, could we? Would the house be ok? Will the kids be ok? What about the cat? Ok… I honestly didn’t think too much about the cat.
After the long trip down the coast from New York, we felt pretty good about being in Florida. It was nice to just be somewhere warm and to stay put for a while. I was feeling accomplished and had said to Cindy that even if our cruise ended right there in Stuart, FL and we sailed home in the spring, I would be happy. I meant that when I said it but I knew the plan was to get to the Bahamas. Even after all these months on board and all these miles sailed, I often found myself suffering from a sort of impostor syndrome… I didn’t really think of us as “real cruisers.” We were just “faking it until we make it.” I thought… I was reasonably competent as a skipper but I didn’t really think of myself as being particularly salty or capable.
Trying to leave Stuart was a comedy of errors. There were all sorts of administrative hoops to jump through to get Willow’s paperwork in order. We had our car and had to get it up to Vero where it would stay with my sister. There was the normal pre-cruise provisioning and boat preparations… Cindy’s passport was due to arrive on 2-14. We wanted to leave on 2-15 so it was a real nail biter hoping that everything would work out and that the passport would arrive in time. A few days before departure Cindy and I were relaxing on the bow when my phone slipped out of my hands and went BLOOP. Right overboard! Our diver, Shane retrieved it for me the next day and cleaned Mavis’ bottom for us but after having spent 24 hours submerged, the phone was toast. So I ordered a replacement phone which was supposed to arrive on the 14th or 15th. When it didn’t arrive on the 14th I figured we would just wait for it on the 15th… Unfortunately, Fedex had some weather issues so it was delivered today, 2-18 in Stuart, FL… But we are now in Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas… So I’m using an ancient toy phone until I can figure out how to get my new device over here. From what I understand, the easiest way to do this is to have someone fly it over into Treasure Cay airport and take the BOLO Ferry to the island… Any volunteers?
As if all this wasn’t enough… The night before we were supposed to leave Stuart, as we left the dinghy dock to head back to Mavis who was now on a mooring ball, I bounced the boat off the dock and immediately heard a hissing sound… Our dinghy was leaking air.
This inflatable dinghy is about 10 years old and I’m actually surprised it hadn’t failed yet but to fail just as we were supposed to be leaving for the Bahamas really got me crazy. We had dropped our car off at my sister’s house for safekeeping until we returned to the USA so we had no car. We were sitting in a sinking dinghy with the dog. I was starving. It was dark and our floating home was waaaaay out in the mooring field. It was Valentine’s Day. We were supposed to have a nice steak dinner on board and leave for the Bahamas in the morning. I didn’t want to miss our weather window because we didn’t know when our next opportunity to cross the gulf stream would appear.
I frantically started calling the local West Marine in Stuart. I mean frantically. It was about 6:30 and the store closes at 8. They had no dinghies in stock but they offered to order one. That didn’t work because I was going to the Bahamas in the morning! I could go without a phone but over here a dinghy is pretty important. I asked if I could purchase a floor model but was told no. Finally I called the Jensen Beach West Marine who were happy to sell me their floor model… We ubered over to the store, lugged the dinghy to the dock and inflated it… I transferred our outboard motor from the old dinghy and we were back in business by 10pm. We haven’t registered it but the Bahamas doesn’t seem to care about U.S. registrations for tenders. We’ll deal with registration numbers when we get back. So at least it failed in Stuart and not out on some remote island… One less thing to worry about but this trip is getting expensive.
So after all of this craziness I was so happy to be underway again. I get stressed out before any major voyages. I suppose it’s anxiety because as soon as we get going I feel great again. About an hour and a half after leaving Sunset Bay, we were exiting the Saint Lucie Inlet and turning right to follow the coast of Florida down to Delray Beach which I had calculated as the right place to begin heading east across the gulf stream.
Remember that impostor syndrome thing? That all went away the other morning. I have a hard time finding the words to properly express just how I felt as we made landfall in West End, Grand Bahama. It was surreal and incredible and emotional. I was exhausted and exhilarated and proud and happy and excited all at once. Just as I had planned, the sun began to rise and Grand Bahama appeared right where it was supposed to be. Maybe we aren’t impostors after all? Maybe we actually know what we are doing?
I felt myself getting a little choked up as we entered the marina and tied Mavis up to the customs dock. Just like that, in that moment, as I cleated the line off… after years of dreaming, a solid year of planning and then 5 months on board, all of this became incredibly real. We were actually in the Bahamas.
If you get nothing more from reading these words, it is my hope that you’ll realize that anything you can dream you can do.
If you get nothing more from reading these words, it is my hope that you’ll realize that anything you can dream you can do. It doesn’t matter if your dreams seem impossible. Just want it bad enough and be prepared to do whatever it takes to make it happen. It doesn’t hurt to have the right partner by your side. I’m very fortunate to have someone equally as passionate and just crazy enough to do these things with!
By the time we were tying up in West End, I had been awake a solid 24 hours but I was full of adrenaline and caffeine. I left Cindy and Willow on the boat and proceeded to the customs office to check in, a binder full of paperwork in my arms. Customs needs to see passports for everyone on board, Willow’s pet import permit, her health certificate, the boat’s coast guard documentation… A few forms… ok lots of forms later and the customs officer started stamping passports and forms. He took our $150 fee for Mavis’ cruising permit and with a warm smile he said “Welcome to the Bahamas.”
“Wow!” I thought. “Did that guy really say that?” I started feeling choked up again. I left the customs office and happily made my way down the dock to Mavis where I found Cindy and Willow waiting on deck for me. We took down our yellow quarantine flag and hoisted the Bahamian courtesy flag to the top of our starboard spreader. Every time I have doubts about whether any of this is real I look at that flag… And the same flags on all of the other cruising boats around us. This is real. We are in paradise.
After topping up Mavis’ fuel tanks with Bahamian diesel which I was surprised to see was clear and not dyed red, we headed back out the inlet and around Indian Cay onto the Little Bahama Bank. Heading out this inlet we were back out in the Atlantic Ocean and the waves were steep and about 5 feet. We caught a few waves on the bow before turning right to go around Indian Cay. The water on the bank like all the water in all of the Bahamas is crystal clear. The bank is only 15 to 20 feet deep and its sandy bottom is visible as you sail across the waters. For miles and miles and miles, as far as the eye could see was crystal clear water. It looked like the world’s largest swimming pool! We saw only one other boat the whole day as we sailed east watching the bottom go by… The water colors varied from a crazy surreal emerald green to turquoise to deep blue.
A solitary dolphin swam along our starboard side and made his way into our bow wake where he swam and looked at the strange people on the bow looking back at him and taking pictures. He hung out with us for a few minutes and then darted off. After motoring across the bank all day, we arrived at Great Sale Cay where we would drop our anchor for the night. We took Willow ashore on our new dinghy and for a few moments we found ourselves on our own island in the Bahamas.
After a much needed night of sleep on the anchor and another trip ashore for the dog, we hoisted the anchor and headed toward the Sea of Abaco. My plan was to try to get to Spanish Cay but if things were looking good and we could make it by sundown, we wanted to get to Green Turtle Cay where our friends PJ and Jim from Hail Mary had set up camp a few weeks earlier. After about two hours of motoring the winds picked up and we raised the sails and turned off the engine.
This was by far the best sailing experience of my life. The water was amazing… But the sailing was pretty awesome too. We had 15 to 20 knots on our beam which allowed Mavis to easily glide along at around 6 to 7 knots. I had such a smile on my face that after the 50 something mile cruise my jaw hurt! I’ll never forget that sail on the Sea of Abaco.
We arrived in Green Turtle Cay and were welcomed by our friends who helped us get tied up in the amazing slip we’re in. We are so happy to be here on GTC at the Leeward Yacht Club. We’ve booked this slip for the month, so this will be our base of operations for a while. Here at the marina we have a really nice pool with a restaurant and bar. We’ve been gorging on lobster bites and conch fritters. We may be fat but we are tan!
This morning, we took a walk into town to explore and were really happy with what we found. We didn’t really know what to expect. The settlement of New Plymouth here on the island is incredibly quaint. Far from the glitzy casinos and mega-resorts of Nassau, this is the real Bahamas. Chickens roam around this island everywhere. In fact, Willow got a mouth full of feathers in a dramatic altercation with one of the buggers this morning. After Cindy got a hold of Willow, the chicken got away unharmed but upset.
After returning to the marina we went for a swim in the pool before walking to the beach to meet our friends PJ and Jim and Betty and Bill, all of whom we met at Sunset Bay in Stuart. The beach here is incredible. I’ve been to a lot of beaches in a lot of places but this has to be the most fantastic stretch of sand I’ve ever seen. Photos don’t do it justice.
It’s really beautiful here. We’re taking lots and lots of photos. It’s crazy to think that someday this will all be a memory. I don’t want to leave this place.
Even though I could see myself staying here forever, I find myself simultaneously looking forward to enjoying a month or two here in the Bahamas and also looking forward to sailing home to the Great South Bay and Fire Island. As awesome and amazing as this trip has been and I’m sure will continue to be, it will be nice to be home for a while. I’ve given thought to leaving the boat here and flying home. It would be pretty cool having Mavis down here in paradise waiting for us to come down. Sort of like having a floating condo in the Bahamas… Our insurance company would really hit us hard for leaving the boat in the hurricane belt over the summer and we REALLY need a boat at home. We would be lost without her. I’d also be super nervous about leaving her. I’ve loved this boat since the moment we bought her but this trip and these miles we have shared have made her so much more than a boat and a home to me… It’s hard to explain the relationship a captain has with his ship but trust me when I say it’s complicated.
That’s all for now. Thanks for following along on this grand adventure of a lifetime.
The weather window that was supposed to open up for us for this evening isn’t panning out but the good news is it looks like tomorrow night will be favorable for an overnight gulf stream crossing. We are keeping an eye on things…
It’s a common situation in cruising. And extremely common on these crossings from Florida to the Bahamas this time of year. The boat is loaded to the gills, the course has been set, the crew is excited and ready… But the winds and seas must cooperate. According to our weather router, Chris Parker at www.mwxc.com things will settle down tomorrow but there may still be a “lingering swell” that may make for “uncomfortable travel” until tomorrow afternoon.
I’m still waiting on a package that was supposed to arrive today but is now expected tomorrow. The moment I have it we will set out!
We left the slip today and are now back in the mooring field on a ball waaaaaaaaay on the far side of the field. It’s a long hike by dinghy back and forth to the marina so we’re really hoping everything goes well with our departure tomorrow.
Our relaxing days at Sunset Bay Marina are winding down fast as we make our final preparations to depart for the Bahamas! We’ve enjoyed our time here. After the formidable journey down the coast, just being in one place for a while has been something we’ve appreciated. Add to that having our car, unlimited access to dining and shopping and we found a much needed sense of normalcy. Soon we’ll say goodbye to this special place, our car, unlimited water and power and the other comforts of home as we head back out to sea and get back into cruising mode.
Presently we are waiting to see if we will get a weather window to cross the gulf stream tomorrow night. It’s all up to the front that is passing through the area. This is a serious stretch of blue water and we need the conditions to be just right. Our fingers are crossed.
As you may know, a major concern for us making this trip has been our ability to operate our business on the go. We need reliable data. Lots of data. And it needs to be relatively high speed and low latency.
In talking to other cruisers bound for the Bahamas both in person and online we discovered a company called Island Wifi that offers excellent 4g LTE service throughout the Bahamas. After speaking with Leo Tripp, I was confident that they provide this much needed data. For an unlimited hotspot plan we are paying $75 per month. And unlike “unlimited plans” at home, we won’t get throttled after we use a certain amount of data. I hear the service is very good. We received our hotspot yesterday. Between our international service with Google Fi and this new device we should be pretty good to operate our business from the Islands of the Bahamas.
We’ve been stocking up the ship’s stores with dry goods, canned food and shelf-stable items. JWe’ve made what we hope will be our last run for meats, fruits and vegetables. The boat is sitting lower in the water with all these provisions aboard.
Things are starting to feel very real and I find myself full on anticipation much the way I did before we left home to begin this grand adventure… You can read about that HERE. There’s so much to do!
A few days ago my mind was reeling… I was feeling a little anxious about about being prepared for the trip. It was another beautiful day with lots of sunshine and a warm breeze so Cindy and I decided to relax on the bow and have a relaxing afternoon cocktail. Heck, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Shortly after our relaxation began I managed to drop my phone overboard… It slipped from my hand, bounced on the deck in SLOW MOTION and began to tumble and spin until it entered the water with a rather depressing “bloop.” Mavis was due for a last minute pre-departure bottom cleaning so I called our diver Shane who retrieved my phone. Even though it still worked for a while… It’s toast. I hope to have a replacement device in hand by tomorrow… 2/14. Argh!
A few days ago we got Willow’s pet import permit from the Bahamas Department of Agriculture. Yesterday I took her in for her final vet visit just before departure. Her health certificate is complete and Willow now can legally enter the Bahamas.
Cindy, on the other hand cannot. She is still waiting for her passport. We used an agency to expedite the process and we expect it to arrive at the marina tomorrow. Talk about cutting it close…
Crossing from Florida to the Bahamas this time of year can be challenging. The trade winds blow strong from the east (where we are going) and there are frequent cold fronts that bring strong north winds. When crossing the gulf stream you really don’t want any north component to the wind as this can create large, dangerous waves. Mavis is a tiny, light ship so we pick our days at sea carefully.
On the 15th we need to leave this slip that we have called home for the last month. If we can’t depart directly for the Bahamas, we plan to return to the mooring field and wait for a weather window to cross.
We’re using Chris Parker from the Marine Weather Center https://mwxc.com/ to provide us custom weather forecasts and routing for the crossings to and from the Bahamas as well as while we are over there. As a pilot, I’m pretty comfortable understanding and interpreting weather data but it’s good to have a professional on our side. We’re still new at this, after all and winter, despite what many think, is NOT an ideal time to visit the Bahamas. The winds frequently blow hard and the water temperatures are only in the low 70s. There’s a lot of deep blue water out there… But we don’t plan on waiting until spring to arrive in the Bahamas.
Speaking of Spring… This trip has been awesome so far and we have much adventure ahead of us in the Islands but before you know it, it will be time to point Mavis north again and head HOME! We have completely adjusted to life in this tiny home of ours but it’s going to be amazing to be back in our enormous house with our family and friends. I’m getting anxious to make some business moves and get back to my comfortable office. We’re also looking forward to being back on the Great South Bay and on Fire Island. We are even planning to do a bit of cruising over the summer… Nothing like this crazy trip but maybe a few weeks up at Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. But heck, we are seasoned cruisers now… We could end up in Newfoundland. 🙂
I got to catch up with another old friend, Keith last week. and we also had a fantastic visit with Cindy’s uncle Mike and his better half Rena.
Today we signed a contract for Mavis’ slip for the summer on Long Island. We’re happy to announce that we’ve selected Sunset Harbour Marina in Patchogue for the season. It’s hard to believe we’ve been out here almost 5 months already… It’s exciting to think about being back in our home waters! See you at the Tiki Bar.