If women can run nations and corporations, they can certainly learn to run a boat |

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If women can run nations and corporations, they can certainly learn to run a boat

 

      Throughout history women have had obstacles to overcome, from gaining access to the voting booth and board room to serving in the military. But not all barriers have been legal or institutional, some are cultural.

       In recent years, women have proven their ability to run nations and corporations as well as triathlons. Unfortunately, not enough women in the 21st Century are comfortable running a boat. Habits, as well as long-running gender stereotypes, are hard the break. In the male-dominated marine industry, women are often expected to remain in the back seat.

       It is time for a sea-change in our long-standing boating mores. I am calling for a mini-mutiny for control of the helm. And I am determined to do whatever I can do to usher in a new era for women boaters. Sisters who have been relegated to a second-rate-mate status on boats, join me for an aqua-revolution!

      There are many reasons men are so reluctant to surrender the helm, and I don’t think it is because of their innate desire to help and serve. If men really wanted to help, they would volunteer to make sandwiches, clean the head or swab the kids with sunscreen.

      Let’s get real. Men love to operate the boat because it is fun. Period. Boating is recreation. That is the difference between driving a car and driving a boat. We call it “pleasure boating” for a reason. When is the last time you heard anyone refer to “pleasure driving?”

     Of course, I come about my passion for boating honestly. I bleed salt water or, to say the least, I cry salt water. It is in my DNA.

     I am a native Floridian whose parents were competitive water skiers and performed for many years at Cypress Gardens.  I grew up loving the water and boating. 

        Since my dad had to rely on women to help him drive the boat, back the trailer, etc., I learned those skills at a young age. There was never a question of whether I could do it. It was only a matter of how long it would take me to master a new task. I grew up believing women were fully capable of driving a boat and handling a trailer.

         At age 23, I bought my first boat. In 2009, I took a job working for the Freedom Boat Club, the hassle-free alternative to boat ownership.

    Then, in 2011, my business partner and I purchased the Freedom Boat Club franchises in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Business has been booming and so has my desire to share my love for boating with others.

     And this is where it gets fun. I not only get to spend my days either boating or talking about boating, but I get to share my expertise with newcomers to the sport and help them learn the ropes (as well as the knots). Best of all, I get to encourage women to get out of the back of the boat and take the helm. Then I get to see the happy look on their faces when they realize how easy it is and how much fun it can be.

    At the Freedom Boat Club, we take the fear and anxiety out of boating.

We train our members in the safe, proper operation of a boat and give them plenty of opportunities to practice their skills. And, because of my background, I take the greatest joy in helping women conquer their apprehension of taking the helm.

     I have one member who literally sat in the back of the boat, clutching her purse and her 9-year-old daughter the first time they went for a ride. Not only did her anxiety of boating slowly fade away, she soon developed an interest in driving the boat. She took to it like a fish to water.

      A short while ago, she came into my office and greeted me with a “high five,” telling me how she had just taken the boat out and then pulled into the nearby dock to get gas.

       Another time I had a woman, a new boater, who took her girlfriends out by herself. She had said previously she would have not even have entertained the thought.

     Of course, women got the right to vote 100 years ago. And now women are even elected to lead their nations. It was only a matter of time until we also took the helm. To learn more go to www.southeastusboatshow.com, and register for the “Take the Helm series”.

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