Rob Schley

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

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You Live on a Boat?!
Apr 24, 2018
4 minutes read

People often ask why we live on a boat. Here’s the story in a nutshell.

I was laid off from Oseberg back in 2015 because the oil market collapsed. At the time, everyone in the American oil & gas industry was hurting and most companies had to make big cuts just to survive. I was pushing some big, forward-looking ideas at Oseberg and I was proud of the impact I was having on the business but, unfortunately for me, big, forward-looking ideas are a luxury you can’t afford when the business is bleeding money.

Getting laid off was hard at first. It was the first job I’d ever lost. It was also a relief because I felt a bit guilty about working in the oil & gas industry. I see climate change as a significant threat and living in New Orleans, a city that is partially below sea level, I didn’t think the work I was doing was in our long term interests.

In the end, getting laid off turned out to be a great thing because it was the perfect excuse to reevaluate what I was doing and where I was going. Up to that point, I’d been putting my work above everything else; often to the detriment of my personal relationships, my health, and my goals. It was time to make some changes.

Back in 2010, I fell in love with the idea of traveling the world by sailboat. I was particularly drawn to the idea because you can travel long distances at relatively low cost thanks to wind power. It was also a way to travel slowly, giving you the time to really get to know a place, because you can bring your home with you. You can stay at marinas or anchor out and enjoy all the luxuries of home, despite being nowhere near your home. Traveling by boat also gives you access to all kinds of places that are inaccessible by any other means.

So, as I thought about what to after Oseberg, the idea of traveling by sailboat came back into focus. The timing was perfect. The housing market in New Orleans was on fire. I could sell the house I just bought 3 years earlier and make a pretty decent profit. I had a good amount of money in the bank. And, for the first time, I had someone in my life that thought traveling the world by sailboat would be as amazing as I thought it would be.

Energized by an ambitious goal, we started mapping out all the things we’d have to do in order to turn this dream into a reality. It was a daunting list. To give you an idea, here’s a few of the bigger things we’d have to do:

  1. Sell my house.
  2. Sell all of my furniture, electronics, bikes, cars, etc.
  3. Find and buy a boat.
  4. Do any repairs or upgrades necessary for the boat.
  5. Amanda would have to start her own law firm.
  6. Sell Amanda’s house.
  7. Sell Amanda’s furniture, electronics, most of her extensive wardrobe, etc.
  8. Move onto the boat.
  9. Learn the boat inside and out.
  10. Try not to kill each other in the process.

With all of that in mind, I set about looking for work that would give me the flexibility I’d need to earn money while trying to do all of the stuff on our list. I was lucky enough to work out an arrangement with Barrett, the owner of CotingaSoft that would allow me to work part-time on a super flexible schedule.

It took a year in a half to accomplish all of the projects on that list. We sold two houses, two cars, countless personal possessions, started a law firm, and bought a boat. I also helped launch a few startups and we invested in another business. Needless to say, it was a lot of work but it was extremely gratifying.

In 2017, we transitioned to living on the boat full-time. It was not without its challenges but that’s all part of the adventure. We decided to wait out hurricane season tucked a few miles up the Tchefuncte River on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. This turned out to be a very good decision as the 2017 hurricane season was one of the most destructive on record. Saint Martin, where the boat was when we bought it, was one of the places severely damaged by the hurricanes.

Finally, in December 2017, we were ready to untie the dock lines and start heading south. We’ve only been traveling for a few months, despite taking the first steps of this journey nearly 3 years ago. I’m sure there are countless challenges and opportunities ahead of us and I can’t wait to see what the next 3 years hold for us.

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