Right now (September 2023)
My family (my wife Charlotte, and our 9, 7, and 5 year old boys) and I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean a couple of months ago in the catamaran that’s been our home for 6+ years. We left Bermuda on 23rd June, intending to sail to either the Azores or Ireland. We arrived into Penzance (England) on the 22nd July, after dodging a forecast hurricane, turning around when the fog off Newfoundland meant we couldn’t see the bow of the boat, seeing dolphins, a sperm whale, several pilot whales, and endless Portuguese Man o War jellyfish, stopping mid-ocean for 36 hours to wait for another storm to pass well North of us, and enjoying a lot of fantastic, comfortable sailing.
Here’s some of the dolphins and whales we saw along the way:
Our boat-home is now moored up in the center of Bristol for a few weeks. We’re enjoying being within walking distance of a few museums and galleries, the close proximity of bike paths, and the general vibe of this waterfront area. Plus, and this is the main reason we’re back in the UK, visiting family.
- finishing off a couple of client research projects
- developing structured-chatbots using LLMs in a couple of contexts
- thinking about how our bodyminds work.
- starting to chat with a few people on Twitter again and about to send out invites for a new Podcast.
We’ll be sailing around the UK through to January next year, then ?? Maybe a visit to France, or Ireland, or the Channel Islands, or Belgium. We don’t know where we’ll be in 12 months - but it’ll probably still in Europe to make family visits more manageable without ✈️.
It might be being back in the UK, or the growth of the kids, or that I’m very excited about several directions of professional travel, but I feel like working a little more than previously (<20 hours a week since 2017). So… I’ll also be deciding what-to-do in public, then doing it. It’ll certainly involve adding to this garden, my newsletter and podcast (long-term games that’ll help “the others” find me); and… ?? no idea.
I live with my wife and three boys on a sailing catamaran, simply and happily. Last time I updated this we were mid-Atlantic (47N, 20W as I type this). After 4 years in the Caribbean and Central America we’re on our way back to the United Kingdom to spend time closer to our families, and expose the kids to different cultures. We’ll likely spend the next year or two around northern Europe, then ??, no idea. For a little of our sailing history, see our always-out-of-date blog, [gone.world] (written mostly for family and cruising friends).
We left the UK on our yacht six years ago, welcoming our third son into the world 10 months after leaving. The whole experience has been life-changing, or at least life-reinforcing. Particularly crossing an ocean. There’s something about the utter-silence of a still afternoon 10 days into an ocean-crossing and the knowledge that there’s likely nobody except your family within several hundred miles, that centers you in the present in a way most people will never experience. And fills you with awe and wonder.
Before we sought the freedom of the open ocean I held a wonderful academic job at Warwick University in the UK, as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Global Sustainable Development. I wanted to contribute to understanding the innumerable and interconnected problems surrounding sustainability, and what better way to do this than through a cohort of engaged students?
I intended to go back to Warwick after a two-year family sabbatical sailing. Perhaps that was self-delusion, or perhaps the intervening years changed our priorities. Regardless, in early 2019 I set up a profile on Upwork, wondering if I could scratch a living as a remote researcher – we don’t need a lot of cash (by UK standards) to live well. My first client was a guy called Rich Feller, who wrote a book called Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed: Workplace Change & Courageous Career Choices. That was the first of many serendipitous moments on this path.
Since then, my paid-now work has clustered around two areas:
Research. My clients since have ranged across biotech, relationship coaching, AI, education, DeFi, agriculture/aquaculture, transport and plenty of other areas. Recently, people working in sustainability have started to find me, which has been wonderful.
1-to-1 work, “Coaching”?. A few clients who hired me for as a researcher in 2019/20 kept me on for… well… we didn’t know what to call it. “Friend, therapist, coach” is one suggestion. “The guy who lives on a boat” another. “Knowledge architect”, for a client for whom I am that. I’ve been calling it cognitive coaching, but that’s not the right term at all.
In 2020, I stopped the research and had work-time alongside coaching to start playing some longer term games. Initially this involved writing online and playing around with Youtube videos and on Twitter and LinkedIN. Experimenting with what felt good, and what didn’t.
I first considered expanding one aspect of my coaching – the “knowledge architect” side, helping people organize, structure and develop their thoughts. Market-testing for tha.la went well, but after efforts to systematize and hire other coaches, it didn’t feel like the start of a fun, positive-sum professional trajectory for me. So that stopped.
In 2021 I was developing a course, Train Your Intuition, and writing a book, Deep Life, to share some of what I do as a coach and how I think. Both were sold to a few people and due for release in 2022; the course in particular felt like the start of something that fits into the long-term contribution I want to make outside of my little circle.
They were interrupted (or stopped, I’m undecided) by long-COVID, from which I was “suffering” from February 2022. Except, suffering isn’t really the word as my experience of life was great (not without frustrations or challenges, but great), within significant energy constraints. I was hardly working and only intermittently present with my family, for a time. However, I felt fortunate to be able to simply rest and recover, while my wife and the kids were snorkeling and playing on the beaches of Belize.
Through 2023 I’ve mostly been preparing our boat for a transatlantic voyage and enjoying quality time with my family (in Belize, the Bahamas, and Bermuda). We left Bermuda on 23rd June, intending to sail to either the Azores or Ireland.