Zach Bassett ’09: Setting Sail through Craigslist
Just days before launching his professional career in Hastings, Minnesota, Zach Bassett ’09 was sailing a forty-six-foot yacht in the Mediterranean. The former UW sailing team member landed the summer dream job on Craigslist, and although the offer sounded too good to be true, Bassett knew better.
That’s because he’d been hired to sail for the Kennedy family in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts — also through a Craigslist ad — the summer after his freshman year. He’d enjoyed that trip’s sense of adventure so much that the following summer, he spent his life’s savings on an inexpensive boat and sailed solo from Miami to Boston.
After graduation, the economics grad moved home and worked a couple of odd jobs before another Craigslist help-wanted ad caught his eye. It was seeking candidates with sailing experience — in addition to being mechanically inclined, self-starting, athletic, well organized, and tidy — to sail a yacht for six weeks around the coast of Turkey and the Greek Islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. Bassett nailed his interview on Skype, and in May 2010, he boarded a plane in Minneapolis and flew fifty-five hundred miles to meet his new employer, a retired American business executive.
“I went a week early to hang out in Istanbul and explore a bit,” says Bassett. “I got caught in a riot at a soccer game and was tear-gassed and shot with a fire hose.”
Once he boarded the yacht, the Gaviidae, life was smoother sailing. As first mate, Bassett was in charge of navigation, sailing, docking, cleaning, maintenance, some cooking, and the overall safety of the crew and guests. “Depending on whose waters you’re in, you have to worry about rules and regulations and stay on top of the paperwork,” Bassett says of international sailing. “And with boats, things break all the time, so you have to hire mechanics and technicians and negotiate prices.”
The best part about the trip, he says, “was seeing all sorts of interesting places, from huge, industrial Turkish towns with millions of people, to tiny Greek islands with a permanent population of twenty farmers — places you can’t go without a boat of your own. It was really neat.”
Besides summer jobs, Bassett has found other deals on Craigslist. He once ran an ad to borrow a goat for a day to play a prank, after joking for years that he would buy a friend a goat as a lawnmower after the friend bought his first home.
Bassett is now busy with his new job with the Loyalton Group as an analyst of energy portfolios for big hotel chains. Though he’s not sure how much time the future holds for sailing, if he finds himself in the market for a sailboat someday, he’ll know where to shop.
Published in the Winter 2010 issue