Why I Launched a Mental Health Podcast From My Sailboat in the Florida Keys

Amy Morin and Nick Valentin record The Verywell Mind Podcast from a sailboat in the Florida Keys

Verywell / Amy Morin

I thought about starting a podcast for a long time. But there never seemed to be enough hours in the day. Between traveling, speaking engagements, and writing, my schedule was already full.

Then, the pandemic hit. All of my speaking engagements were either postponed or transformed into virtual events, and my schedule opened up a lot. 

Around the same time, I started receiving emails from people who were struggling to manage their mental health. Most people were feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed

And it’s no wonder why. The headlines were scary, and the lockdown was tough. Many people lost their usual “go-to” coping skills, like meeting with friends or going to the gym.

As a therapist, I wanted to help. I knew the best way to reach the most people was to launch a mental health podcast in the middle of the pandemic.

But rather than rent a studio to host the show, I decided to create a floating podcast studio right from my own sailboat in Florida—which is where The Verywell Mind Podcast is still recorded today.

What It's Like to Start a Podcast on a Sailboat

Whenever people learn The Verywell Mind Podcast is recorded from a sailboat, they always ask, “Why?” Well, the easy answer is because I live on a sailboat full-time. 

I’ve lived on a boat in the Florida Keys for about five years now. My husband dreamed of living on a sailboat since he was four years old. I, on the other hand, knew nothing about sailing or living on a boat. But I do like a good adventure.

We moved from Maine to South Florida thinking boat life might be temporary. But, after a few months, I fell in love with the “liveaboard” lifestyle.

As a podcast host, author, and the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind, I’m fortunate to work from home. And I don’t need much to make me productive and keep me happy aside from a comfortable couch and a laptop. So for the most part, living and working from a boat is easy.

Launching a podcast from my sailboat, however, posed a few unique challenges. 

Sailboats Aren’t Exactly Spacious

And podcast equipment (like microphones and mic stands) takes up a fair amount of real estate. But since I knew much of my time would be devoted to my new podcast venture, I thought why not turn the living room (or “the salon” as boaters would say) into a podcast studio? 

Sailboats Are Noisy

Not only can you hear the wind on breezy days, you can also hear the mast clanging and the ropes creaking.

Fortunately, my expert audio engineer, Nick Valentin, loves a challenge. I met him when I recorded the audio version of my book "13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do," which we recorded it in a professional studio. We didn't have to worry about things like wind direction, but I still knew he was talented.

He’s recorded music for superstars like Marc Anthony, Pharrell Williams, and Sean Combs (whom you might know as Puff Daddy, P Diddy, or Diddy), and I was thrilled when he agreed to produce the show.

Sailboats Present Other Unexpected Challenges

We quickly problem-solved many of the initial challenges posed by our floating podcast studio. But there have been some unexpected challenges along the way that have kept things, well, interesting.

  • The day an octopus broke the air conditioner: A quick check of the engine room looked like a scene out of a bad sci-fi movie. When we took the cap off of a pipe to check the water supply to the air conditioner, an arm reached out at us. It turned out there was an octopus stuck in the filter! 
  • The time we interviewed Dan Harris during a tropical storm: Not only was the storm loud, but the boat was literally rocking during the video interview. At the end of the show, Dan asked, “Are you on a boat?” The fact he had to ask gave me some hope that the tumultuous storm wasn’t too obvious. Ultimately, Nick, the audio engineer genius, came through and made the interview sound pristine.
  • The months when South Florida heat gets the best of us: It was really problematic during the summer, so we turned off the air conditioner for the sake of sound quality. But the room temperature limits our recording time since it becomes a race to see what overheats first—the humans or the tech equipment. We learned a lasagna pan filled with ice under the laptop fans works best to keep our computers cool (in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation).

The Future of the Show

Podcasting is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. I get to talk to amazing people! Some of them, like Danica McKellar and Darryl Strawberry, are my childhood heroes!

And all of my guests share inspirational stories, personal struggles, and strategies for staying mentally strong during tough times.

We tested several episode formats to see which resonated the most with our listeners and discovered a combination of guest interviews and short episodes with actionable mental strength-building exercises are what people want to listen to the most right now. 

So our plan is to continue creating content that will reach listeners who want to learn more about mental health and how to build mental strength. And we’ll keep recording most of our episodes right from our floating podcast studio in the sea! 

More About the Podcast

The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

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By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.