It’s All Good by Captain Don Fleming

I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from the Boat Handling Instruction Business.

I have decided to allow more time for my wife, family and friends with plans for more travel, cruising and leisure activities. I am
retiring now, rather than at the end of the season, due to travel plans to California and Europe which will make me unavailable for
business through much of the fall season. I’ve been working on the Hudson River as a professional captain and onboard instructor
for over twenty-five years. For fifteen years prior I operated in City Island, New Rochelle and Mamaroneck and eventually branched
out to Connecticut and the Hamptons. That’s over forty years in total. That’s a long time! And, a great time!

Two things have made it great: the people and the boats. As far as the boats are concerned, like most of us, I simply love boats and being on the water. I’ve been on some incredible boats and had many great adventures, and for these things, I am extremely grateful.
I am grateful as well for the professional achievements these experiences have allowed. I am proud to be a Celestial Navigator. There’s a unique feeling you get from knowing you can find your way with only the sun, stars and planets.  I am also proud to hold the ranks of
“Able Bodied Seaman” and “Ocean Operator,” my original licenses, and “Master of Oceans,” my present. But I must confess that I have always preferred the wording of the originals over the present title. The word “master” seems a bit pretentious to me, as though one could ever “master the oceans.” In spite of the wording of the latter, I am grateful to have been able to attain these professional licenses and maintain them through rigorous training upgrades. They have allowed me to offer a depth of knowledge and experience that my clients appreciated.

Speaking of my clients, I have been fortunate to have worked with absolutely wonderful people from all walks of life. I’ve been able to get to know many of them quite well during my training sessions. My clients often came to me eager to learn what I have to offer. They were motivated before I even met them. They loved boats as much as I do. They wanted to enhance their skill level and gain confidence. And, I was in a unique position to help them. I want to thank each and every one of you for all your enthusiasm, determination and willingness to “try it ‘til you got it.” Thank you also for the fun and the adventure of it all. I received a great deal of satisfaction seeing you reach your goals and enjoy your boats, knowing my efforts made a contribution toward safer boating on the Hudson and the surrounding waters. In addition, I would like to thank all marina managers, boat dealers, mechanics, technicians, and people in related marine services in the greater New York Area with whom I have been associated throughout my career.

Many are personal friends to this day. I could never have succeeded without the cooperation and support of our network of marine professionals. Along the Hudson, that network has been, in large part, the members of the Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association.
I have been a proud member since 1987 when the first president, Artie DeMarcus of Westerly Marina, and original treasurer, Frank Zoller of Zoller Marine Center, encouraged me to join when the organization was in its infancy. I served as a member of the board of directors for a dozen years during the multi-terms of presidents Charlie Melchner of Mahopac Marine, Ginny DiForio of Surfside 3, and
Gene Krease of Stony Point Bay Marina. I can only say that I have met some very fine people and enjoyed the camaraderie of the group.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to have written my seamanship column for Boating on the Hudson & Beyond for the original publisher, Jack Krasco, as well as the present, John Vargo. I hope that my writings have instilled, in some small way, a love and enthusiasm for our sport along with some encouragement to do it safely with a proper skill set. I’d especially like to thank Johnny Vargo for his overall support of my efforts on the water and for encouraging me to become a better writer. In addition, I cannot conclude without expressing my appreciation to Ed Radford our Art Director for all the wonderful photo and graphic layouts that have enhanced my articles so much. You guys are the best!

For the immediate future, I plan to continue writing and to work from time to time as a professional captain. But mostly, I plan to enjoy life. So, “Fare ye well my fellow Hudson River Boaters.” I wish you “Fair winds, favorable currents and calm seas.”

“Quick’s the word and sharp’s the action.” See you next time from wherever the four winds take us.

You can find this article and more in the latest issue of Boating on the Hudson Magazine! Pick up a FREE copy at your local Marina or favorite waterfront location. Not sure where you can pick up a copy? Not close to the Hudson River? Want to have the magazine delivered right to your door? Feel free to email us, or visit our website and view our magazine online!