They say you can live on sunshine and coconuts…
Certainly there are plenty of people living the dream on frighteningly small budgets: Young couples on tiny Wharram catamarans – old men sailing ancient gaffers held together with string…
But it’s always going to be easier if you have some money behind you.
If you’ve read The Old Man’s Story, you will have noticed a rather cryptic reference to the way I “learned to make a living without going back to work.”
That was 2005. We had been ashore for six years. We had tried everything to get some money coming in: We had registered as childminders – after all, we had four of our own by that time so what were a few more? We started offering Bed & Breakfast in the attic. I achieved a lifetime ambition by earning £1 a word with a column in the Daily Mail’s You magazine – if you missed it, it was billed as “Award-winning war correspondent John Passmore reports from the Home Front” and it was one of those one-joke columns that don’t last long.
The one joke went something like this: “Little Johnny tightened his grip on the tricycle and gave me a look which I had last seen on the other end of a Kalashnikov at a midnight checkpoint on the outskirts of Sarajevo…”
The column lasted seven months.
In the end I was reduced to applying for jobs paying about a quarter of what I used to get for the one I had given up – except that this time nobody hired me.
That was when I got lucky. Somebody gave me a leaflet describing a way you could make money from home in your own time – a lot of money, or so it seemed. What was so lucky about it was that, if I had found a proper job by then, I would have dismissed the leaflet as some sort of a scam – after they were suggesting that by working a few hours a week, you could make more money than you would ever need. That’s got to be dodgy – right?
Well, I didn’t have any other options so I put my doubts to one side and gave it a go.
Actually, I gave it more than a “go”. I threw myself into it wholeheartedly (which is the only way to succeed at anything).
And sure enough, it started to pay me. In fact, every month, it paid me more than it had the previous month. This increasing monthly income started at less than £100 but it grew and grew and grew to a point where it was paying me more than I would have got from the job that I didn’t get (if you know what I mean).
In fact, it paid me more for working from home in my own time than I would have earned commuting and working 9-5 for someone else. There were other advantages too: Because I was self-employed all sorts of expenses were tax-deductible: A proportion of my household bills (for office use), car expenses, hotels and so on…
I had never been self-employed before. I loved it: If I wanted to earn more, I just worked harder or got better at what I was doing. If I wanted to take a day off or go on holiday, I just did.
And here’s the really exciting part:
If I wanted to buy a boat, I had the money to pay for it.
That’s right: As I went along, I was awarded share options in the company. Because it was so successful, these increased in value. After 12 years they covered the total purchase price of Samsara and also paid for a £1,200 folding propeller, Coppercoat antifouling, a new teak rail, electronics, all the work demanded by the surveyor…
And not only that:
The company paid me to go sailing.
Believe it or not, when I took two months to deliver the boat from Wales on the UK’s NorthWest coast to Woodbridge in the SouthEast, the money kept coming in every month.
And they carried on paying me when I started again the following spring, sailed over the top of Scotland, down to the Azores and didn’t get back until November. In fact they paid me more each month than I was getting from my two company pensions and my state pension combined.
It made me think: If I had succeeded in that interview all those years ago and had been working in a traditional job – and then announced to my boss that I was going off on a boat and wouldn’t be able to put in any work for nine months, I fear it would have been a different story.
Now do you see what I mean when I say I “got lucky”.
I can’t tell you any more about it without getting the whole of this blog and all the ongoing posts approved by the company’s marketing department – and after a lifetime fighting to get my copy past newspaper lawyers, I’m afraid I can’t face going through all that again. But I would be glad to tell you privately. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Old Man