The MarineMax mission is to have our customers United by Water. Sometimes, that means banning the men in order to give the ladies a chance to captain their boats!
Many MarineMax locations offer Women on the Water (WOW) classes, designed to help women learn everything they need to know so that they feel confident driving their boats and to enjoy the water.
“We find that offering separate classes for women allows them to ask more questions and become more confident in operating their boats,” says Captain Greg Riley who teaches WOW classes at the Lake of the Ozarks store in Missouri.
This is important whether they plan to take their friends out in the boat or they just want to be a solid backup captain should the need ever arise.
“More often, we see women out on the Intercoastal. We see them out with their friends, and we see them taking their kids tubing or skiing,” says Captain Keith Lake who teaches WOW classes in Clearwater, Florida.
Each MarineMax store has a different format for its Women on the Water class. For example, in Clearwater, Captain Keith leads classroom instruction that includes basics such as terminology, navigation (channel markers), safety issues, VHF radio operation, and anchoring, as well as practicing knot tying with cleats mounted to boards in the classroom. Then he heads out to the boat with his students, where he focuses on docking and handling the boat.
“I find out who knows what and I adjust the lesson accordingly. We do a lot of question and answer throughout the day,” Captain Keith says.
Meanwhile, Captain Greg teaches his entire class session in the boat. The focus of Captain Greg’s classes tends to be docking instruction and practice; however, he welcomes questions on topics ranging from anchoring to maintenance.
“A good boat captain needs to understand how the boat shifts, how to move from forward to reverse and left to right, and how to control speed,” Captain Greg says. “Some ladies get it right away, some learn what they need to practice, and some come back to take the class a second time for reinforcement.”
Students are matched with classes in boats similar to their own. For example, Missouri offers two classes per month April through September, and each class will be specific to runabouts, cruisers or pontoons. Some classes fill up six months in advance, so sign up early.
For more information about Women on Water classes at your local MarineMax, call your local store or like your favorite MarineMax location on Facebook to watch for event info.
You needn’t be a current MarineMax customer to register for a Women on the Water class.
What Do Women Learn from MarineMax Boating Classes?
“I took the boating class because I want to feel confident not just driving but docking the boat. I think is important to have more than one driver on board. I learned to stay in the same place and turn the boat 360 degrees. We practiced docking and backing up,” says Artie Heizer, who says she is confident enough in her skills that she pulled her son wakeboarding all summer. “And I’m planning to sign up for the twin engine class in the spring.”
Linda Tucker took the class so she could learn more about driving the boat she owns. “I have a 31-foot Sea Ray Sundancer and I love it!” she says. “In the class, I learned to dock the boat in a slip or alongside a boat dock and how to drive boat on the lake. I highly recommend the class to everyone who owns a boat. The instructor was excellent.”
“I loved the Women on the Water class,” says Viki Anderson. “Captain Greg is very patient and calm! I took the class to gain confidence — I would tell anyone that the class was a great experience but it takes practice after the class, too.”
Lollie Bever, who owns a 40-foot Meridian, says, “The captains who teach the Women on the Water classes have nerves of steel! They are calm and patient, and they stand right beside you and tell you everything you need to know to operate the boat. I learned how to read charts, plot a trip without GPS, tie up the boat and dock the boat. Before the class, my husband always took the wheel in the marina. I knew I could float up to a dock if I needed to, but thanks to the class I can dock the boat in any slip without a problem. The class is a great confidence builder!”
Jill B. says, “Last year we bought a 185 Sea Ray Sport and it is my first boat. I wanted to know everything about it and feel comfortable driving and docking it so I attended the WOW class. Captain Keith taught the class and I learned so much about navigational signs, tying knots, etc. In fact, my husband and I later attended the Coast Guard Safe Boating course (a two-day condensed version) and I found I already knew everything they were teaching, thanks to Captain Keith’s class! With Captain Keith’s help, I learned to dock my boat without any coaching at all. That class by itself gave me enough confidence that I now know I can go out alone or with a friend and do everything I need to do in order to enjoy a full day of boating. The day Captain Keith taught me to dock the boat — that is when the boat truly became ‘my boat!’”
Whether taking the class with strangers or a group of friends, women often learn their way around a boat better in a ladies-only classroom.