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MMA addresses major concern of women

Kudos to the Marine Marketers of America (MMA) for identifying a growing problem for women in boating and creating a program that could help dealers address it.

This summer the MMA, through its Pro Bono Committee, will launch a pilot boating education program tailored specifically for women boaters. The dealer-initiated program will teach the basic principles of boating safety and boat handling. It will be tested in five dealerships across the country this year, with a national rollout expected in 2009.

But, wait — there are already many boating safety classes available, so why do we need another one, you may be asking. According to Committee co-chairman John Wisse, “Our research shows there is a pressing need for an educational program to give women the skills and confidence to operate a boat safely. Many women are very concerned that they might not be able to bring a boat back safely if their male companion is disabled out on the water,” he added.

I agree, particularly in light of our aging society. In fact, I am evidence that this concern is real.

In the last couple of years, I sensed my wife was becoming more reluctant to make those long off-shore runs for fishing or cruising that we’d been doing, together, for more than 30 years. When she finally opened up about it, she revealed she’d become increasingly fearful that she couldn’t get the boat back to shore if something happened to me out there! Frankly, her fear had never crossed my mind before but, clearly, it needs to be addressed if we’re to continue to enjoy the boat the way we always have.

The MMA’s effort to focus on this need is timely and potentially could make a difference between keeping boaters and losing them when such fears increase with age.

Dealers selected for the pilot program are Atlanta Marine (Atlanta), Basa’s Marine (Chicago), Boat Tree (Orlando), Land N’ Sea (Cincinnati) and Gander Mountain (Dayton). Committee members will work closely with each dealer location to develop, fine-tune, implement and evaluate the training program this summer.

Buckeye Marine, which has developed and implemented an effective women’s educational program in Toronto, is serving as a project consultant. The MMA will provide dealers with a turnkey marketing tool kit that includes branding guidelines, logos, taglines, advertising slicks, direct mailers, brochure templates, press kits and other promotional materials, as well as guidelines for course curriculum and instruction.

The MMA is a professional development organization working to enhance the success of marketing and communications professionals in the boating industry. Members of the Pro Bono Committee are John Wisse, Ohio Division of Watercraft; Jim Rhodes, Rhodes Communications; Jean Tikusis, Ken Cook Co.; Derek Robinson, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics; and Capt. Mark Kellum, Kenton Smith Advertising & Public Relations.

More information at (


4 comments on “MMA addresses major concern of women

  1. Rebecca Tracy

    Port Harbor Marine, as a company, has been addressing this important issue for a least two years. We offer instruction for women specifically and our classes are always full. As a woman boater, I can attest to the importance of being to handle my boat in the event of my husband’s illness.

  2. Stephen Hill

    THE CAPTAIN’S GROUP is keenly aware of the lack of trained women on the water. We have hosted several women’s clinics in the southeast teaching women how to safely operate a boat. From leaving the dock, rules of the road, anchoring, navigation and returning to the dock is all part of our acredited curriculum. SO whether you want to learn how to get back to the boat ramp in an emergency or be able to take your girlfriendds out for a cruise, we understand how important it is to operate your boat SAFELY!
    More information can be gathered at our web site

  3. Phil Keeter

    This is an excellent plan that dealers should get involved in. Might be a brand new way to generate some sales in this slowdown. We really don’t know how many wives have been holding their husbands back from buying because they have this reservation. On top of all that you would be providing your customer with a more pleasant and rewarding boating expierence.

    It is a known fact that spouses can’t teach one another and have less poeblems if they let someone else do the teaching.

  4. Jim Rhodes

    I am co-chair of this committee. Let me point out that our proof-of-concept program this summer is strictly a pilot program. We are not setting ourselves up to be the trainers, or even to dictate curriculum. Our goal is to turn this pro-bono program over to the for-profit sector as soon as possible. We are encouraging the participating dealers to link up with certified boating safety instructors in their markets to provide the hands-on and classroom training.

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