Work Afloat – Communications

Digital Nomads

I sometimes wish we were in the fortunate position to give up work for the rest of our lives and go cruising. We’re not and we need to ensure that we have a regular income to support our simple but comfortable lifestyle. We have no intention of letting this little detail interfere with our plans to set sail and fully intend to join the ranks of the increasing number of Digital Nomads around the world.

At present most of our work is land based and our plan is to have an online business up and running by the time we are ready to head out to sea. We have been thinking of how we can convert what we already do to ease the transition and come up with new ideas to create passive income.

In the Work Afloat sections I plan to create a series of posts and invite other liveaboards and cruisers to add their experience, ideas and blog links to this section. In the mean time you can read the 10 top Digital Nomads’ blogs on the ODesk site to get an idea of what others are doing to generate income on the move. Until we are ready to join them, I will be focusing on our journey and sharing it with you as it unfolds.

Huawei wifi device
Huawei E5330 device

Digital Communications

Our first priority for working afloat was communications. I was surprised that while all of the mobile providers would give me cheap, unlimited broadband when I lived on land -their mobile broadband is expensive with no such thing as unlimited. Here is a comparison chart from Money Supermarket on UK mobile broadband providers and their data allowances and prices. If you don’t have a clue how much data you need the following is an extract from Threes’s Understanding data & allowances.

This will give you a rough idea of how much data you’re using:

  • visiting a website uses less than 1MB of data
  • a four minute song uses about 6MB
  • a five minute YouTube video could use up to 15MB
  • watching iPlayer for an hour uses about 700MB.

With both our businesses relying primarily on online marketing, social media and email; we are heavy internet users. We opted for a rolling monthly contract with Three, the most flexible we could find at the time. It included a 4G Huawei E5330 Mobile Wi-Fi device. The Huawei enables us to connect up to five devices at the same time (2 x laptops and 2 x tablets in our case) and we get 15 gig of data for around £25 per month.

It is important to keep an eye on data usage as we’ve gone up to £45 before realising the data limit had being exceeded.  As 15 gig is obviously not enough for us and I am a bit of a movie freak (rule number one is we don’t use our work WiFi for any video or rich media)– we supplement this with our mobile phone data. On Orange I have 5 gig of data that can be used for either the handset or tethering and I use this for watching videos and movies on my tablet. Kevin has unlimited data for his handset as well as 2 gig of tethering on Three.

Our monthly digital communications bill is approximately £76 per month. Broken down as follows:

  • £25 for Three WiFi – rolling monthly contract, included WiFi device – 15 gig of data
  • £28 for Orange mobile – 24 month contract ending in November 2015, included handset – 5 gig data/tethering and unlimited calls and text.
  • £23 for Three mobile – sim only monthly rolling contract – unlimited handset data/2 gig tethering data and unlimited calls and text (I’ll move to this rolling contract in November for flexibility and unlimited data)

I will be doing a lot more investigation into the best way to connect while cruising in Europe over the coming months and I would greatly appreciate any input and experience you have to share.

Snail Mail

We still need to access business snail mail, especially parcels containing business cards, business tools and the occasional letter. In a previous post I went into this in some detail when I discussed registering for and accessing services. We currently use a fully manned virtual office service in a local Enterprise Centre and pay £24 per month on a rolling monthly contract.

Co-working southend
Jelly Co-Working Southend-on-Sea


Running our businesses on-board can be quite limiting from an ideas and work socialising perspective. In the next Work Afloat post I’ll be discussing co-working spaces and business networking for self employed Liveaboards both on and offline.

You can follow the liveaboard blog by pushing the “follow blog” button below and you’ll get notifications of updates. I’d really love to hear from you too so please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. If you have any similar stories, please, please share with us. Have a great day x


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