Robert L. Kocin, a young American, Built a Boat

In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own

By Meryl Cantor | April 20, 2018 | Updated: April 20, 2018 3:28pm

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It took two years, but the young American can now sail a boat he built.

A few years ago, Robert L. Kocin of North Hollywood, California, was working at the North Hollywood Fire Station, one of the few jobs available to young men in the city of more than 130,000 during the recession. When he wasn’t on the job, L.A. had a strict work-life balance. He had to take the bus home for dinner every evening.

But on a day L.A. was in the news again for a huge fire, Kocin decided to take a break from the station and go sailing.

His boat was his dream, he said. It was a two-person center console with a cockpit, the kind of craft that you can tow behind a boat. It had masts, a wheelhouse, a cabin. It needed a person to sit in the wheelhouse, but it also needed a person to run things from the cockpit.

Kocin knew he needed help. When I asked him why he built the boat at such a young age, he answered, “I didn’t think I’d ever be a writer. I figured if I had the opportunity to sail one of these things up on the open ocean…, I’d get to sail them on the open ocean. This was one of the more magical things I could ever have done.”

He had a friend who was a professional sailor. In exchange for a few beers, L.A. had been able to convince him to build the boat for him.

That friend had a girlfriend who was a designer, and she also convinced him that he needed to take the boat to sea.

“His career was going up the toilet. He had no interest in the kind of work that he really loved, and his girlfriend, who is a very talented designer, just wanted to go sailing and he couldn’t be bothered,” L.A. said. So K

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