Retiring From A Dream Job

By Bob Adriance
Published: October 2012

For the first time in my 35-year career, I'm going to do something I've never done before: write in the first person. I'm doing this for two reasons. First I'm retiring at the end of the year so I'm becoming a little reckless. And, second, to write about my own retirement in the third person would sound ridiculous. So here goes.

Thirty-five years ago, I decided that I really wanted to work at BoatUS because I loved boats. The only job opening at the time was for an assistant warehouse manager and I got the job mostly, I suspect, because nobody else wanted it. BoatUS only had 20,000 members and the pay was terrible, but, what the heck, the organization was growing quickly and I thought it had a bright future. I was right. Starting on my first day, truck after truck began backing up to the loading dock with anchors, depthfinders, rope, marine heads, life jackets, cotter pins… all of which had to be put somewhere even though the warehouse was already packed. Soon the warehouse was bulging, but every time another truck arrived, I had to find a place to put the stuff. Things quickly got out of control. Anchors and cotter pins were crammed in everywhere.

The boss called me into his office one day and said he wanted me to work on the BoatUS Equipment Catalog because — this is a quote — "I hope you'll do less damage." My new job would be to write about things like cotter pins and Type II marine heads with the goal of — another quote — "making them sound exciting!" That job didn't go well either but at least I learned how to type, which brings us (me) to Seaworthy.

From the moment I began working on Seaworthy, I loved it. I loved the idea of using the claim files to prevent accidents. I loved the idea of helping people, and I loved writing about boats, even boats that had been sunk or blown up. I also liked not having to unload trucks or write odes to marine heads. I fell in love with my job and have never looked back. For over 30 years, I've been paid to (this is only a partial list): Go down the Mississippi pushing five acres of barges; race America's Cup 12-meter sailboats in the Caribbean; go on patrol with the Coast Guard on a 210-foot cutter; ride aboard a 980-foot containership from Charleston to Port Everglades; race antique schooners down the Chesapeake Bay; cruise around the British Virgin Islands in a 45-foot trawler; and stand on the bridge of an aging Atlantic liner as it came into Manhattan at dawn. Note the part about getting paid; sometimes I have to pinch myself.

The obvious question is, why would someone leave a job they love and get paid for? It's a good question, one that isn't easy to answer. I'm certainly not getting any younger and after driving back and forth to the same office like a yoyo for 35 years, it's time for a change. Grandchildren grow up quickly. I'd also like to think of myself as something other than a weekend sailor. Beth Leonard and Chuck Fort, the remarkably accomplished Seaworthy editors who will be taking over, have logged tens of thousands of miles of extended cruising. Now it's my turn.

Finally, one nice thing about writing for a living is that as long as you're plunking away on your keyboard, everybody thinks you're working. This has given me the opportunity to correspond with hundreds of readers—my e-mail buddies—who have taken the time to write Seaworthy. While most of the material in Seaworthy is from the BoatUS claim files, these readers have provided a lot of terrific (and funny!) stories and photos that have found their way into print, either as Personal Accounts or in Small Stuff. My sincere thanks to all of you.



To comment on this article, please contact Seaworthy@BoatUS.com