LIGHTNING RELEASES (12/17/2013) – Jacksonville’s first lady of the waterways, known simply as the Boatanista, has gone national.
The Boatanista, aka Lisa Almeida, is a familiar personality in northeast Florida, as a result of frequent television, radio and public appearances. And now her expertise and passion for all things boating has attracted much wider attention.
Almeida, owner of the Freedom Boat Club franchises in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, has been selected to serve on the recently formed Recreational Boating Leadership Council Diversity Task Force. The group was formed to help increase participation in recreational boating by attracting more women and minorities.
“We cannot continue to rely on our traditional methods of promoting the marine industry,” said Almeida. “We know that 2013 will be the first year in history that more white males passed away in the U.S. than were born. And the large majority of recreational boaters are white males.”
Almeida is particularly interested in encouraging more women to become boaters.
In addition to helping promote recreational boating on a national level, Almeida has also been honored for her ongoing work with the Freedom Boat Club.
At the company’s annual gathering in Duck Key, Fla., last week, Almeida and business partner, Kevin Seelig, won awards for boating safety and membership growth. The Jacksonville-St. Augustine franchise of Freedom Boat Club enjoyed the highest percentage of membership increase among the 73 FBC locations across the nation.
“I am thrilled that we were recognized for our efforts to promote boating as well as boating safety,” Almeida said. “We all want to have fun on the water but safety comes first.”
Almeida and Seelig, who purchased the local FBC franchise in 2011, are participating in the BoatU.S. Foundation’s “Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids.” The program allows boaters to borrow a child’s life jacket for a day at no charge. Freedom Boat Club Jacksonville, based at Julington Creek, is one of more than 500 locations across the country that is participating in the program, which began in 1997.
In addition to the recent national recognition, Almeida is also grateful for some local accolades as well.
“Our boat won second place in the Holiday Light Parade,” she said. “It has been a great year for us.”
“I am thrilled to be able to be able to promote Jacksonville’s waterways, the marine industry in general, and to encourage women to be more active in boating. Women’s role models shouldn’t be limited to Ginger or Mary Ann. If a woman wants to, there is no reason she can’t be the captain.”