Launch a Cruising Career

Published in the November 2017 Issue October 2018 Multimedia Janet Groene

Do you long to throw off the dock lines and head your houseboat toward an endless horizon?  It may be possible to retire now. Earn as you go. Here are some ways liveaboards work from anywhere in the world, via the Internet or work on site.

Internet Jobs

When you have reliable Internet access, the entire world is your marketplace. Your information or product may be of interest to only one person in a million, but you can reach hundreds of millions.

  • Tutoring. You might teach a school subject or coding, ancient Hebrew, marine navigation or diesel mechanics. employs 302 tutors in 23 countries, speaking nine languages to more than 25,000 students around the world.

For some tutoring positions you may need only a high school diploma; others require an advanced degree. Some require a teaching certificate. Pay starts at $20 an hour and some tutors command $1,000 an hour or more to teach wealthy clients. Go to or do a search for “homeschool” to find companies that seek certified teachers.

  • Teaching Plus. Do you have a skill such as knitting, engine repair, wood carving, needlepoint or building bird houses? You’ll need to market your skills, find an audience and provide a steady stream of content including photos and probably video. Create a website with how-to information, then monetize it by selling subscriptions to the site or finding advertisers or sponsors. Increase income by selling related patterns, courses or supplies.
  • Consulting. Some consulting fields, such as financial advisors, website designers and creative writing are already very crowded. The more rare or highly specialized your expertise, the better the chances of finding clients.
  • Blogging. Anyone can start a blog free, so competition for eyeballs is intense. There are almost 4,000,000 mommy bloggers alone, and millions more who blog about fashion, diets or their own travels. How many people might read a blog about your houseboat cruise? Of them, how many will pay for it? Royalties from AdSense and YouTube are only a few dollars per 1,000 clicks or views, so a very large audience is required just to make pin money. If you have a large number of followers, you may find sponsors or advertisers.
  • Crafts Sales. Etsy is the place to showcase your homemade afghans, pottery, jewelry or watercolors. You’ll pay a small listing fee, 3.5% commission on sales and a transaction fee for payment via a credit card or PayPal. Reportedly the most successful Etsy seller made only 2,800 sales last year and her items were in the $3-$4.50 range. You must create the product, promote it, bring buyers to your Etsy site, then ship the finished work. Many crafters succeed by using Etsy plus their own website, other online commission sites such as eBay and personal sales at crafts fairs as they travel.

Local Jobs

Many cruising boaters like to roam free for a while, then stay in one marina long enough to recharge the bank account. Jobs found through staffing agencies such as are temporary and often well-paid. Better still, such agencies allow you to come and go yet build a work history with them, sometimes with benefits. Other possibilities include:

  • The Fixer. Carry basic tools on board and you might earn extra cash from fellow boat owners by sewing custom canvas, doing refrigeration and air conditioning maintenance or general handyman jobs in houseboat plumbing, engine tune-up, electrical and carpentry. Note that some marinas do not permit work to be done on boats by anyone but a marina employee.
  • Amazon Flex. Want to dock in Miami for the winter or Seattle for the summer? Amazon may have a job for you. You’ll need a car. They pay independent contractors $18 to $25 to deliver packages to Prime customers in under one hour. Choose your own hours and delivery area. At this writing Amazon Flex is available in Seattle, Richmond, Nashville, Austin, Dallas, Baltimore, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis and will soon come to New York, Chicago, and Portland.
  • Gofer jobs. Depending on where you are docked you might join a service such as You’ll need transportation. Assignments could be anything from cleaning out a garage to picking up and delivering an order of home improvement supplies. Work where you please, as much as you want to. Many TaskRabbit gofers love the variety of the work.

Self-employment is hard work that becomes harder when you’re on the go. However, for many mariners it’s the ultimate get-outta-jail free card.


About the Author

Janet Groene is a professional journalist and a member of Boating Writers International. She and her late husband, Gordon Groene, lived full-time on the go for ten years. “Living Aboard” is a recurring column that focuses on living on your houseboat. Janet’s newest book, The Survival Food Handbook (International Marine Books), is a guide to provisioning and cooking with common supermarket ingredients to carry in your pantry. Janet posts new galley recipes weekly at

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