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Matt's Editorials: Sailing is a Metaphor for Life

The official change of seasons

As the days of fall begin to arrive in the Northeast and the trees begin to change colors, it is all very beautiful. However, I know that inevitably the weekend will come when I need to decommission the boat for the season. For those of you who are long standing members of The FENG, you know that in the Bud household, or at least in my mind, the year is divided into only two seasons: summer when I can go sailing, and winter when I cannot. (I try to keep my life simple.)

Unlike the spring commissioning which is filled with the promise of warm sunny days, the fall decommissioning is filled with the promise of cold weather. (Perhaps even a few blizzards.) While there will surely be more than a few enjoyable evenings spent in front of the fireplace, it is hard to compare that with my personal benchmark of a few hours of sailing in a moderate breeze, either upwind or downwind.

Having done the decommissioning process many times, I guess you could say that I am a little “over qualified,” or in this case I think I would rather classify myself as “well qualified.” (Boating is filled with lots of surprises, not all of them pleasant, so no one is actually ever “over qualified.”)

Although it takes the better part of two days to remove all the gear from the boat each year and bring everything to my storage unit, it provides me with a unique opportunity to examine each and every item in a way that one rarely gets to do with our own homes. It is sort of like packing up and moving every year. What were the items we didn’t use at all? Why did I buy that cup holder anyway?

I go over everything I take off the boat with an eye toward preventive maintenance or replacement. The season is ending, but I know there will be another. And, when I want to outfit the boat, I don’t want to be slowed down by having to fix things. Far better to do it during the “off season,” although I must confess that despite my good intentions, I often still leave these things until the days before the new season is to begin. (It is just hard for me to get motivated in the winter.)

The jobs with little redeeming value are things like winterizing the water tanks and, of course, there is the annual oil change and changing of the fuel filters. These last two are a good reminder of why I don’t do them on my car. It is a very dirty job and my clothes always smell awful when I’m finished. Still, there is a certain satisfaction in a job done right and it gives me an opportunity to really go over all the mechanical parts of the boat and see that everything is working properly. Unlike a car, many of the things on the boat (like the motor) don’t get used much, and it’s not like you can pull over to the side of the road. One of the rules of sailing is that things break only at the worst possible time. On any cruise, something is going to break, and only by going over everything with a fine tooth comb can you feel assured it will be something minor. (I should be so lucky.)

While the seasons of job search don’t appear to have any pattern like the seasons of the year, there still are things that you need to do from time to time if you are one of those lucky ones who is “between searches” at the moment.

I hope that you will make the time to brush up your resume with your new “work opportunity” and, of course, network to beat the band by setting aside a few hours each week to call old friends from your most recent job search adventure and call a few new members to encourage them.

In this way your “winter” will hopefully be as productive as mine.

Fair winds always, Matt

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