November 5, 2016

A Burr Training Session Aboard A 65 – SalesmanShip


Greetings to the entire Burr Team,

All we can say is WOW!!!!!

Carole and I have officially begun our journey as Fleming owners.

We are traveling home to NY after our 10-day training session in Puerto Rico, where the boat was located, with Kevin Altoff. To say we are on information overload would be an understatement.

Kevin’s calm manner and well-organized approach allowed us to understand everything he was teaching. If we can remember half of what we learned, we’ll be well on our way.

The main purpose of this letter is to say “Thank You” to everyone at Burr Yacht Sales. Every step of the way, everyone at BYS has been genuinely interested in helping us.

In our year long search for a boat, our consultant, Steve D’Antonio, continually reminded us what was important: buying the right boat (solid, safe and well designed) and buying it from the right yacht dealer (one that stands behind their boat and offers superb support after the sale). We know we have accomplished both.

We have already experienced the care and responsiveness of seven or eight folks at BYS and feel comfortable to call anyone for assistance.

I’m sure you receive compliments and letters like this all of the time. They are all welldeserved. In case you are interested, I’ve included a brief recap of our notes about our training experience below.

With kind regards,

John and Carole G.

“SalesmanShip” (Fleming 65-028)


Our training aboard SalesmanShip, Las Palmas, PR.

Day one –Today started with learning the electrical panels… I thought… how hard can that be? OY!!!

By the end of the morning we were bleary-eyed. Fortunately Kevin was able to keep it logical and was patient with our many questions. I was expecting him to start calling us Pete and Re-Pete.

Next were power supply options… AC, DC, Generators, and engines. As we have come to expect from a Fleming, all systems are incredibly well designed with many redundant systems for safety and back up.

Then came the moment we looked forward to the most, handling the boat. Maneuvering the boat throughout the marina included tight turns and handling from multiple stations on the boat. Carole had to do everything as well. I stayed far away so no extra pressure 🙂

We learned to think of moving the boat like we move our shoulders when we dance. At times my moves probably looked more like a epileptic seizure than a waltz. Kevin remained patient and quite.

Next was docking. Why not just shoot me first. Pulling in and put of the slip was a great way to meet the neighboring boat owners. They all came to watch and comment in Spanish. This was not very helpful. In hindsight I think they may have been there to ensure we didn’t crash into their boats.

The AC system alarm went off so I was elevated to the position sea strainer cleaner. This is a fun job (?) but as soon as I was done the AC in the salon was cranking. Kevin also suggested I clean each AC filter and fortunately was willing to assist.

I thought it was time for cocktails but soon learned we had four hours of shopping for food, supplies, linens, etc.

The days are starting to blur and we don’t recall what day of the week it is any longer. Soon we were in the engine room … Started at 9am and at 4 pm we were only 3/4 through. I will not bore you with the details … lets just say we know there’s a lot going on in there!!! Every system has a back up and safety rules the day. The engine room is very spacious with two 800 HP Diesel engines, two large generators, the huge hydraulic system, three separate battery systems, two inverters, four fuel tanks, a reverse osmosis water maker, two water tanks, six AC systems and the list goes on and on. The download of information was organized and understandable.

Time for some R&R? Nope… off we went to West Marine and made their day. Kevin was a trooper and came along with us… His second shopping trip. We all had dinner with the former owner, Jose Soto and his family. They obviously loved this boat.

Tomorrow we finish in the engine room; more maneuvering training and then we prepare for our 1st journey to Culebra, a small island about 30 miles away.

All morning 9-12 was more docking and maneuvering around the marina. Docking is feeling more natural but it is clearly going to take a lot of practice. Kevin had lots of guidance to offer including, “you really should try breathing once in a while”. I will forever hear his voice in my head, “one hand at a time, one action at a time and wait five seconds before you do anything else”.

The desire to learn this well exceeds our lack of experience. Time and practice is the only way to overcome this deficiency. The worst experiences included being in gear with both engines while thinking I was in neutral. Why is the boat moving out of the slip when I want it to be stopped? Not realizing the thruster control stays in position after you release it caused more excitement so it was extremely frustrating to do all of these things at the same time. UGHH. The second bad move was starting to turn the boat when I thought we had cleared the slip… only to bump the piling. To emphasize this mistake, Carole yelled up, STERN NOT CLEAR”… that at least lightened the mood a bit J

Carole learned a lot about handling the 6 dock lines and yelling commands up at me… I mean to me. The Puerto Ricans got tired of helping us dock once they realized I wasn’t going to crash into them.

That afternoon we went out into the ocean for the first time where there were 3-6 ft. waves. The boat is so solid and heavy. Plus with the stabilizers on the ride is amazing.

With salt spay all over the boat, we decided to clean it ourselves. What was the phone number of the guys Jose’ has here three times a week? Actually Carole and I had fun doing this together.

Now we had time to plot out a route for our 1st field trip to Culebra where we will anchor over night. Also where we will have training on deploying the dingy and anchoring.

We found a great French restaurant tonight… It’s been a long but fun day.

After breakfast it was time to set off on our first journey. It was a test of sorts… having to walk through the many routines we’ve been learning…

The trip was amazing because we are finally feeling like we can and will learn all about this new aspect of our life.

Just as we were starting to relax we had to anchor in a harbor filled with sailboats and yachts. At 30 ft. deep, the anchor chain had to be about 150-175 ft., plus adding 70 for the boat. Now if we swing in a circle we get to figure out whom we might hit. At 110,000 lbs., knowing you are set in place becomes important….

Once we finished this it was time to learn how to put the dingy in the water. It sounds so easy when we had it explained to us while we were sitting in the slip. Can you spell crane operator?

Once in the water, the dingy ran like a champ. With a 60 HP motor we hit 30 mph easily… quite fast. We tied up at the dingy dock and went for drinks and dinner at the restaurant called… you guessed it, The Dingy Dock!

Putting the dingy back up in the dark was a new experience. But it all went well as we were coached every step of the way.

Time for bed??? Nope… time to learn about Flir Night Vision system and night lighting. How was I to know I was turning on underwater lights all week… by accident? I was wondering what that switch was for.

Tomorrow we go to a small nearby cove to practice all of the above several times.

This is a different sport than anchoring our former boat, a 31 ft. Grady White… It was like having to get someplace in a hurry while having my shoelaces tied together…

The dingy deployment was another venture into the unknown… sending a 13 ft. boat with an outboard on the back… out and around and down and into the water. Done properly it should be a smooth series of movements. I looked more like I was breakdancing… and that is not a pretty sight!

The evening ended with a lesson on the water maker … a reverse osmosis system that makes water more pure than you can purchase. It’s an amazing system and we are very pleased the water is so clean. I also had my 1st try with the Texas BBQ… we went for a swim and headed back for dinner.

The trip home was filled with guidance and advice on the electronics, observing our surroundings, etc. etc. Once back at the marina, two more dockings for additional practice.

Amazingly the ten days were over before we knew where the time went.

In all seriousness, we learned more than we could have expected. We are headed home with a proper foundation for additional learning and experience. Most important of all, we know we have the ability and the desire to become careful and safe mariners. And while we may not have the experience of many lifelong cruisers, we are determined to become extremely capable. Knowing we have the folks at BYS at our back makes this all the more possible.

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