From hourly deck-hand to fleet owner: Seelig remains moored to life-long passion |

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From hourly deck-hand to fleet owner: Seelig remains moored to life-long passion
 From hourly deck-hand to fleet owner: Seelig remains moored to life-long passion

     It is not unusual for college students, even those nearing graduation, to admit they haven’t settled on a career path.  And, of course, few high school students have a clue about their future plans.

        For Kevin Seelig, attending summer camp at age 10 was all he needed to determine his life’s course.  

       “I attended summer camp in Coconut Grove (Fla.), not far from where I grew up” Seelig said.  “The campers had a chance to regularly go out on the water. I quickly became attracted to anything that involved boating.”

        Seelig did not wait long to turn his newfound love into a fledgling career. At age 14, that same Coconut Grove camp gave Seelig his first job, but this time as a counselor, making a minimum hourly wage of $6.25. Seelig took every opportunity to be on the docks, near the boats.  He quickly learned how to properly tie dock lines, rig sails and perform basic maintenance.

      Those lessons have paid off ever since.

     “I was a sponge for knowledge,” he said.  “I was becoming comfortable handling a variety of boats.  I learned from a wide assortment of transient dock workers who would come and go with the season.”

      By his senior year in high school, Seelig had doubled his pay and exponentially expanded his skills and responsibilities on the dock.  There were few repairs or maintenance jobs he couldn’t handle.  He was as comfortable sewing a torn-up jib and racing sailboats as he was repairing motors and fixing electronic glitches.

     Then, when Seelig was 18, Freedom Boat Club came to Grove Harbour.

      “They hired me to run their operations on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.  It was a remarkable amount of responsibility for a teenager, but few young people anywhere could match the marine experience Seelig had logged.

     Eventually, Seelig ran private yachts in south Florida and played host to various major movie and music celebrities, business executives, and Miami's elite. 

      “I had some very memorable experiences and I have seen some interesting things,” he said, “but I will keep that to myself.”

       Seelig, now 30, no longer runs charters for the rich and famous.  He is back handling operations for Freedom Boat Club.  But it is in a different context.

       Seelig is no longer an hourly employee, tying off lines and scrubbing decks.  He is president of the Jacksonville and St. Augustine locations of Freedom Boat Club, which he co-owns with his partner, Lisa “The Boatanista” Almeida, another south Floridian who grew up as a boater.

    While Almeida oversees the marketing and sales side of the business, Seelig handles operations.  Under Seelig and Almeida’s guidance, the Jacksonville-St. Augustine locations of Freedom Boat Club have experience rapid, steady growth. When they began operations in 2011, they owned three boats, and leased nine others, serving 150 members.   

    Now they own 47 boats and have 470 members.

    “Kevin is the perfect partner,” said Almeida.  “He has experience and a depth of knowledge that is extraordinary.  And beyond that, he has a passion for boating.”

     And it is a passion that Seelig believes is not likely to wane anytime soon.  As rapidly as his Freedom Boat Club franchise has grown in recent years, he believes they could have 100 boats and 1,000 members within the next four years.

    But the thought of being responsible for maintaining, repairing cleaning all those boats, and keeping all those members happy, doesn’t make Seelig feel stressed or anxious.

    It brings out the boy in him. And that has served him well.

 

About Freedom Boat Club

Freedom Boat Club is the world’s largest members-only boating club.  It is a simple alternative to boat ownership.  Freedom Boat Club has locations locally in Julington Creek Marina and St. Augustine Marina.  Members have unlimited access to the home club’s fleet and can reserve a boat using a member-friendly online reservation system.  Member privileges are also available at any of the 86 Freedom Boat Club franchises throughout the United States.  Each provides a fleet of boats that come with less stress and a lower price tag than owning a single boat.  Freedom Boat Club offers a variety of membership plans.  For more information, visit www.freedomboatclub.com.   

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