Emily Nancolas and Adam Whistler spent the coronavirus pandemic on a boat they bought and fixed up, traveling across the Mediterranean from Greek island to Greek island
Image: Emily Nancolas)
A British couple who swapped the daily grind for life aboard a vintage sailing boat work entirely remotely and often catch their lunch while on breaks.
Emily Nancolas and Adam Whistler, both 35, are about to celebrate their fifth anniversary together from the sun-drenched deck of their beloved sailing boat, which they share with their recently adopted cat.
Primary school teacher Emily and tech start-up marketer Adam have been living together on the £ 18,000 third-hand boat for the past three years.
While they had to endure seven months in an abandoned Greek boatyard at the peak of the pandemic, now life is plain sailing again.
They spend about the same amount Adam forked out for commuting to London each month – £ 650 – to keep the boat running and their larder full.
The thrifty lifestyle means their remote working salaries – Adam for the same firm, Emily as the owner of a online business about boat-life – can be saved or spent buying extra kit for the boat.
“We were both doing careers in London, trying to get a house, and feeling like we were ticking the boxes,” Adam told the Mirror.
“When we first met we both admitted to each other that it was a bit empty. Both of us felt there would be more.
“I confided in Emily that I had a dream to sail around the world and she said ‘me too’. We talked about it for a little while, and then we thought you only live once.
“We made the plunge and quit our jobs. We jumped out of the safety net.”
The first hurdle that Adam and Emily needed to get over was the fact that they couldn’t sail.
Rather than paying for an expensive course learning how to safely navigate the seven years, they volunteered as crew for a man sailing out to Sicily.
Once there they were able to clasp their eyes on their boat for the first time.
“We didn’t know if we were going to like her,” Adam continued.
“We had bought a real fixer upper. She is a beautiful boat. A real classic.”
“Two families have grown up in her. We’re grafters and so we didn’t mind putting the work in. We ended up paying £ 18,000, which for a home and a vehicle is pretty reasonable.
“We’ve spent about the same again over a few years buying things like a really good life raft and autopilot so the boat can sail itself.
“We think it’s cozy. We really love her. We make all our own electricity from solar panels.
“We didn’t have a way to make water until recently, but now we have a water maker. Now we can shower and be within nine feet of each other.”
Emily admits that some aspects of boat life mean it’s not for everyone.
“I think comfortable is subjective,” she said.
“It is probably smaller than your loungue. Guests struggle for the first day because she is always moving.”
A big part of the attraction of living on a boat in the Mediterranean is the glorious weather and the access to the sea.
Speaking while doused in 28C weather, Adam explains how they gave up their vegetarian lifestyle when they learned of the joys of spearfishing.
He said: “When we got out here we realized everyone is mad about fishing on boats. We realized how sustainable it is, so long as you’re aware of what the fish is. Particularly if you’re fishing invasive sunfish.
“We’ve got really into spear fishing. You jump in and swim around and hunt them with spears.”
The couple have found that working entirely remotely has been much easier than expected.
By hot-spotting from their phones they’re able to reach internet speeds faster than back in the UK.
The only time work calls get disrupted is when they hit a rough patch on the sea. This once caused plates to crash down around Adam as he was in the midst of an important investor meeting.
Although Emily admits part of the communal office atmosphere is lost working-from-boat, they’re both big advocates of the lifestyle and refute ‘back to the office’ arguments made by Jacob Rees-Mogg.
“The vast majority of workers are happier and healthier,” Adam said.
“My commute to work used to be two hours each way. It was £ 650 a month.”
As for home, there isn’t a huge amount that they miss, aside from friends and family.
“I would recommend headphones,” Emily said.
“We miss family and friends, but that’s the only serious thing.”
In the future they hope to set sail on a round the world trip once coronavirus restrictions have eased off a bit more.
To view their Instagram page, click here.