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Shedding a cubicle and headset for sea trials aboard yachts

Several years ago I would start feeling anxious and irritable about 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoons.
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Several years ago I would start feeling anxious and irritable about 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoons.

Cape Yachts, South Dartmouth RI

Cape Yachts, South Dartmouth RI

I couldn't understand why. It didn't matter whether I was watching football, playing outside with the kids or at the beach. I just had a horrible feeling that wouldn't go away.

In retrospect I realized that I was worried about the workweek that would begin way too early on Monday morning. I had been working as a loan officer at a mortgage company in Newport, R.I., since 1999. Every day, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., I sat in a cubicle with a headset and a keyboard and a monitor and worked on loan applications for people who wanted to refinance or purchase a home.

What I really did was look at the clock every five minutes, hoping for the day to be over, and daydream about illnesses I could contract so I could stay home the following day. To say I hated my job was an understatement. On the other hand, the job had a good salary, plus commission and bonuses, and it fed my family for many years. The problem was that I was miserable.

In the spring of 2014 my wife was searching the want ads for herself when she found a job for a yacht broker at Cape Yachts in South Dartmouth, Mass., and applied on my behalf. I said, "I don't know anything about boats. Why did you apply for that job?" She said she couldn’t stand to see me be miserable anymore and that I needed to get a new job.

I didn't think anything of it until I got a phone call from Jane Nolan, who had reviewed my application. She saw that I had sold everything from radios to appliances to automobiles and worked in the mortgage business and decided to do a phone interview with me.

Her first question was, "I don't see any recreational boating experience here. What do you know about boats?" I told her that I didn't know anything about boats, but I was licensed in 30 states as a mortgage loan originator and I had sold everything on the planet very successfully. I was sure I could learn all about boats. I did spend four years in the Navy.

Somehow she decided to grant me an interview with Dave Nolan, president of Cape Yachts, and he offered me the position of yacht broker.

I decided to take the job, but not quit my job at the mortgage company. I had three weeks of vacation, and I used those weeks to decide whether I wanted to work for Cape Yachts. I loved the atmosphere so much that I decided to stay. My first year with the company (Sept. 1, 2014, to Sept. 1 this year) I earned the Top Gun award from Beneteau in the United States for powerboats, with more than $5 million in sales.

Often I will be sitting on a beautiful yacht doing a sea trial and I will think about how my life has changed in the last year. The contrast between sitting in a cubicle prison with my headset and fluorescent lights and cruising on the ocean, helping to make my clients’ boating dreams come true, couldn't be more stark.

My advice to those who feel trapped in a job they hate is to make a change, even if it is scary. I would also suggest getting an understanding spouse who believes in you. Without her help and encouragement I would have been hanging on to that lifeline, treading water.

Going to work feeling passionate about what you do will be rewarding financially and mentally. Life is short.

Bob Chace is a yacht broker at Cape Yachts in South Dartmouth, Mass.

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