There are many people who dream of a life filled with adventure, travel to exotic places, and enjoying the finer luxuries that go along with a big bank account. Those of you who are lucky enough to work on yachts are some of the few that are able to turn this dream into reality and get paid for it at the same time. Being part of this world can be thrilling and financially rewarding. However once the party is over, the question of “what next?” can be scary or exciting.
There are various motivations that propel people into a career in yachting, however one characteristic that runs throughout is the ability to take risks. Leaving the comforts of home and familiarity to quit your job, board a flight, walk the docks, day work and live in a crew house takes courage and determination. Those who go on to be successful entrepreneurs after yachting possess this same tenacity.
For Clay Livingstone the decision to take the leap came after 17 years working in the industry. Following a career in yachting that included running flotillas in Greece, Turkey and Croatia and as a Bosun and mate on 30m+ yachts, he left to start up his business Nautibouy with Nina Lucy Anderson, “We certainly leapt in at the deep end. We designed a product from scratch, launched a new brand, then went straight to export globally.”
Patrick Maflin, Director of Marine Accounts, took a similar decision following 14 years of yachting. During his years through positions on various yachts as engineer, captain and Race manager at the Volvo Ocean Race, he noticed how little resources there were for crew to sort out their financial situations onshore whilst working offshore. The decision to set up Marine Accounts came from a desire to provide crew with straightforward advice and solutions to what can seem like an overwhelming topic. Without his time at sea, it would have been far more difficult to gain the insights that have enabled him to build up a successful business.
Inspiration for a new business can come from many areas. For both Clay and Patrick their ideas came from an intrinsic niggle about something that was annoying them. Nautibouy was born from Clay’s frustration with launching tenders to do topside maintenance and cleaning. He decided to design an inflatable raft that could be kept on board at all times. The company’s DAME deck category award win in November, helped to verify that Nautibouy was indeed a great product. Patrick wanted to take the confusion and complication out of tax, and thus Marine Accounts was born.
Patrick, Clay and Nina all have some sage words of wisdom for anyone considering giving up yachting. “Make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you jump, but don't be afraid to make mistakes” says Patrick. Clay supports this advice, “There is loads of financial and legal help out there, however it won’t come and find you. You have to chase it and find it for yourself.”
These entrepreneurs are proof that there is a life beyond yachting. Using their experiences they have been able to build up successful businesses, despite Clay admitting that he has the business acumen of a jellyfish. Learning everything from scratch has been an interesting journey, but thankfully his business partner, Nina, has the business savvy that has steered them in the right direction. For Patrick, both the bills and discovery that your student loans aren’t written off was a massive shock, but this has been tempered by the freedom that he now has. “The biggest reward of leaving yachting is the ability to make my own decisions and not be beholden to anyone”. Clay agrees, saying he doesn’t miss the lack of privacy and enjoys being able to make plans and finally attend birthdays and weddings; a freedom that he missed as yacht crew.
Despite the worries of leaving the familiar behind in search of a new life, Patrick wishes he had known earlier how easy it would be to leave yachting. On looking back with hindsight, Clay recommends that anyone considering the move should put away as much of their earnings as possible, investing in property and tax-free ISAs as this nest egg can help when you strike out on your own.
The most important thing to remember is to take advice when you need it. There are organisations and individuals out there who are always ready to help and provide inspiration to business builders.