|By Drew Dixon, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Now, after years in corporate America, she's returned to the water to what looks like the final stages of her career as the owner of a business that revolves around water. Almeida runs the local
Almeida, 56, was an executive in sales and marketing for Bell South communications for about 25 years before she became a general manager for Freedom Boat in 2009. Shortly after the national company with more than 80 franchises opened one in
The boat club offers the 350 local members the choice among 28 boats moored at the local marinas. It costs
For the "Boatanista" -- a moniker Almeida had registered as a trademark -- running a boat business means she's come full circle.
You say it's a club, but it's a business. Do people actually rent boats or how does it work?
They're not renting boats. If they're a member of our club, they get unlimited use of our boats. We clean them, we maintain them. We take care of them. They just get to use them.
Why would somebody do that if they can just go out and own a boat?
Because No.1, people's lives are so busy nowadays. ... It's very time consuming to own your own boat. It's very expensive to own your own boat. This is much more affordable and it's much easier.
It's not inexpensive,
When you compare it to owning a boat, it's very inexpensive. Because the slip rental alone for the boat if you owned a boat would be
There's an old saying about boating and owning a boat: The best two days are when you buy it and when you get rid of it. Do you see people that owned boats before and then got rid of them?
We have what we call "lapse boaters," those are the people who left the industry because it was too much time. ... [And] our club is comprised of first-time owners. They don't know anything about a boat. They don't know how to dock a boat, they don't know anything about the engine.
You were a water baby, you grew up around it --
It's in my DNA (laughs).
You went into corporate America and had a successful career there. But now that you've gone full circle back into recreational boating, what's it mean to you?
I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to give the gift of boating and the water to people every single day. It is so my passion and my love. To be able to have that be my business, it is just amazing to me.
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