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Newspaper Publisher Turned Sailboat Captain Skip to content

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Second Careers: Sailboat Captain

He charted a new course

Sailboat Captain Bill O'Donovan sailing on the York River

Dustin Cohen

BILL O'DONOVAN, 70 | $52,000 a year

Home: Williamsburg, Va.

Previous life: Newspaper publisher

"I turned my passion into a career."

Why he did it: After 42 years with the Virginia Gazette newspaper, I was laid off at age 65. Fortunately, part of my job was to schmooze advertising clients and news sources, and I did that by taking them sailing on my boat on the York River. I was spending more than 100 days a year on the water, and that just happened to be what I needed to get Coast Guard certification and start sailing professionally.
How he succeeded: I printed up brochures and took out ads in the local papers. But what really helped was setting up a blog on my website. That helps with Google searches. Through my blogs and TripAdvisor, I’ve grown the business rapidly.
What you need to know: What matters is business strategy. I studied other sailing businesses, then copied their best practices.

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