A Software Engineer Sailing the High Seas

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In the wide world of coworking, you meet some pretty fascinating people and learn things about them that you wouldn’t expect. It’s one of our favourite parts of working from many spaces – the more people you meet, the less you know what to expect!

Baku, currently in Portugal, is a case-in-point of this. We met him in Lisbon a few months ago. Here’s the thing: Baku is a Silicon Valley software engineer. But he loves sailing. So, what did he do? He combined the two in the most awesome way possible.

He’s a software engineer sailing the high seas! Sounds pretty cool, right? Check out our interview with him below and discover more!

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How long have you been working for your company?

This is the third year. I have been working there since 2012.

Why did you decide to leave the office life in Silicon Valley?

My company has several offices in different countries and the main one in Europe is the one in London. I have only been two times in the office. So far I’ve always worked from “home”.

The world is too big to be stuck in one place.

How is life on a sailboat as a software engineer?

This is a a good question! It’s great!! I have worked hard to have my boat self-sufficient, I have achieved several goals: wind turbine for electricity, a good wifi antenna when I have to ‘steal’ internet around and a good 3g/4g connection for the rest.

As a software engineer I use my laptop probably more than 16 hours a day and I need a good and stable internet connection. No more than this.

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Then, sails up, and let’s go: Italy, South, North and West of France, UK and Portugal. When I feel I have to move, I ask one, two or three weeks of vacation and I move again.

Could you describe a typical day of work for you? (If such a thing exists!)

I usually wake up in my triangular front cabin and if I have to work, my boat is moored in any marina where I can use some facilities for my needs. I have breakfast then, either I go to some co-working space, or I work onboard until lunch.

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Here in Portugal I love to taste some food everyday in different ‘Tasca’. A Portuguese ‘Tasca’ is a tavern, a cheap place where you can find local people and typical food – those places are not still affected by the process of gentrification…

Some days I have to work until 7pm for some video conferences and online meetings with colleagues from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, otherwise, I go back around 5pm. I have always something to do on board: cleaning, repairing something, study new things, planning the next trip or simply hanging out with friends. If the weather is good, I go out sailing, alone or with some new friends.

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And now and then, people from the marina invite each other to have dinner or a drink in their boat. We share experiences, we talk about other harbors, other seas, our boats.

About traveling: just do it! Don’t wait to have every single detail fully planned, just go and explore.

I save time every single day to dedicate to some readings. On board, the movement of the boat on the water creates a nice and relaxing atmosphere to read a nice book.

During the weekend and some evenings I am keen to do some exploring, sailing, walking and reading.

What’s the hardest thing about your lifestyle of travel + work?

The hardest thing is to create a network of people in each place and leave it after few months. Many of these friends, I’ll never meet again and this is hard to accept.

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On the other hand, this improves the kind of the relationships I have created over the years. In my point of view, one of the biggest problems of our society nowadays, is that we build friendships as commodities: quick and superficial contacts, social networks push hard in this direction.

How do you find good place to work in a new city?

I started working in a co-working space since I arrived in Portugal, three months ago, and I enjoy it! And I already looked for the next co-working space, in Madeira, so stay tuned :)

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I like to talk with people and explore cities and places without a guide books. I’m not a common tourist, I can leave when I think I have seen enough. Everyday I would like to be in a new street.

How do you think the nature of work is changing?

I do love my job as I love what my company does and its aims. Since the beginning I asked to work from home to sail around the world. They accepted it. This was a special deal and I am very grateful and happy about it.

This is somehow unique and maybe in the future can be extended to others. Working from home, any kind of home, is perfect for some type of work, but not for all. Plus, it’s perfect for some type of people but not for all.

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I don’t know what the future of work will be, but I guess we still need to socialize and live in a ‘real’ world. Probably, I would like to imagine more coworking spaces, more people in the streets, and less people locked down in a empty room in front of monitors, chatting with others.

What advice do you have for people who want to travel and work?

About traveling: just do it! Don’t wait to have every single detail fully planned, just go and explore. If you can, don’t travel just for 1 week or 1 month, but until you feel that is enough for you. Then, don’t feel tired and with curiosity start from scratch another trip. Working covers a big percentage of our life, so, think about that.

Where are you traveling to next?

The world is too big to be stuck in one place. Next destination will be Madeira, then Canaries and Cape Verde. Then, I don’t know. I love to spend time in each place. So, just in these 2 archipelagos, I hope to stay more than 2-3 months. Then, following the current and the wind I will go down to Cape Verde, and we will see.

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I am aware of my privileges: I come from a European country, I have had the opportunity to have a good job, I don’t have more or less problems with borders and documents.

Michael Melia

Chief of Communications & Community Building at Copass
Michael is an anthropology PhD student at the University of Oxford. A new team member at Copass, you'll see him copassing in Paris, London, Oxford and beyond.

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