Economist retires to sail boats in the Caribbean

To most people, it sounds like a guy who just snapped -- retire as an economist to sail boats in the Caribbean.

For Kevin Welsh, it's a perfectly natural transition.

Welsh has been one of two economists employed by the Legislative Counsel Bureau since 1982. There are now three positions. His job has been to figure out the fiscal impact of proposed legislation on the state, local governments and on business.

During Nevada legislative sessions, Welsh is the one who advises the Senate Taxation Committee.

"We take economics and apply it to everyday stuff," he explains.

And he says he's thoroughly enjoyed the job.

But the three-piece suits, the texts describing economic modeling methods and the publications detailing decades of Nevada tax data have always been just one side of Welsh.

After a good look at the other side, no one would think it odd he's heading for a summer as helmsman on ocean-going sailboats.

That other side stretches from a picture of Welsh launching a Kawasaki drag bike off the line in the 1960s to his private pilot's log, certifications as a scuba dive master and assistant instructor, 10 years with the Ski Patrol and skydiving.

Although he admits adrenalin sports have always drawn him, the conservative nature of the economist does have some say even in those activities.

"I do a lot of goofy things, but I'm very careful doing them," he said. "I don't take chances."

The final entry by an instructor in his skydiving log is a good example: "Nice deployment of reserve chute."

He managed to get the reserve opened in time -- barely -- and decided to move on to other sports, such as sailboats, which have become a passion.

For the past few years, he's spent as much time as possible in the summer as a crew member on sailboats. One of the primary jobs, he says, is moving expensive boats from their home base in Florida or San Diego to places such as the Bahamas, Grenada or Costa Rica.

"It's ferrying, delivering boats," he said. "Some people don't enjoy the transition, the open water, the navigational responsibilities. And they don't have the time on their vacation. They just want to go there and party, then go home, so we move the boat for them."

"You don't really get much money for it," he said. "What it is is an opportunity to sail somebody else's boat -- some really nice boats -- and not be responsible for the cost of the boat or the maintenance."

When possible, he signs on as crew on racing boats -- normally as helmsman.

He says he can do it because, between his time working for Clark County and LCB, he'll retire at age 53 with 30 years service May 31.

First, he said, the Harley comes out of the garage. Once summer hits, it's off to the Carribe.

But Welsh says Carson City is home and he'll be back in the fall.

He'll be back in time for the 2003 Legislature, which almost everyone agrees will focus on tax issues.

"I've already been approached," he said. "Told them I can't even discuss it until after the 31st. And frankly, I've got to get away and think about it for a while. But it's a possibility."

More importantly, he said, Carson City is where his friends, longtime girlfriend, Arvilla, and her grandson, Keenan, whom he calls "Kickstart," are.

"He's my buddy," he said.


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