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Team Ripl
Team Ripl

Hi, Ripl Community! I’m Stefanie, the Founder of Black Girls Boat—an organization dedicated to encouraging and inspiring black women to learn to boat.


The folks at Ripl recently offered us the chance to try out the beginner’s course through BoatClass at Freedom Boat Club.

As a black woman, I’ve been asked how I got started in boating. The short answer is I’ve always been drawn to the water; it brings a sense of peace and serenity. I’m a relatively new boater, having gotten started about 3 years ago when I moved back to Tampa, Florida after some time away.

Freedom Boat Club was my introduction into boating on my own after countless vacations having been a passenger on board friends’ boats going swimming, snorkeling and SCUBA diving.

Prior to my experience in BoatClass, I never imagined myself actually driving the boat. After BoatClass, I can say it’s one of the best ways to get started and get confident in the captain’s chair!

At BoatClass you learn to dock, anchor and all the safety techniques on the water. It was a great chance for me to learn more about safety on the water and further my understanding of the signals and signs that are important for every boater to know. Beginners learn how to operate a boat, understand the signage and practice technical skills that are less obvious when you’re a passenger.

Experienced boaters who want to brush up on the basics can also benefit from BoatClass. People who know the basics can pick up new skills of how to improve dock ties, dock lines, and navigating the water with new navigation technology.


So, should you take a BoatClass course? Here are my 5 takeaways to help you decide:

  1. Understanding Signage on Waterways
    If you’re unfamiliar with or unsure how to read the many signs you see on and around the water, then BoatClass can help you familiarize yourself with the essentials.
  2. How to Safely Operate a Boat
    Safe boating might be the most important thing you can learn if you’re new to boating. The instructors at BoatClass will teach you how to drive a boat with confidence and caution.
  1. How to Anchor the Boat
    It might seem basic, but there are important steps to follow when dropping anchor. BoatClass covers them and then some.
  1. How to Dock the Boat
    The docking process can intimidate new boaters, but it doesn’t have to! You’ll learn and practice how to bring your boat to dock after a day on the water.
  2. Stocking Your Boat with Safety Essentials
    You’ll learn the essential gear and safety features every captain should know about, from your life jackets to your kill switch. If you don’t know the different types of PFDs (or what PFD means) BoatClass is a great place to start.

I was able to sign up for BoatClass at One of the best ways to get involved and practice boating is through joining a club like Freedom Boat Club. As a Freedom member, I’ve had the opportunity  to take out a pontoon, center console, deck boat and fishing boat on multiple different outings. My membership has let me go boating in Georgia, Maryland and California, too! Freedom Boat Club opens up the boating world to members, and I am very grateful to have had these experiences and making water memories.

The ability to go out on the water and expose family and friends to boating who might otherwise not have tried it has been an incredible joy. Black Girls Boat wants to bring diversity into the boating world and the best way to do that is educating yourself and sharing the things you learn in your boating journey!


About BoatClass

BoatClass is an on-the-water training program available to individuals, age 21 and older, where you do most of the driving. Launched in partnership with Freedom Boat Club locations, BoatClass teaches boating safety and maneuvering skills to beginners as well as boaters looking for a training refresh. Certified US Coast Guard captains lead 3-hour basic courses starting at only $149. Before taking BoatClass the average customer rated their boating skills and confidence on average a “3” on a scale of 1-10. This number jumps to about a “7” after participating in a training session with BoatClass.

About Freedom Boat Club

Freedom Boat Club, a business of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC) and headquartered in Venice, FL., is the world’s oldest and largest boat club with 400 locations comprising of both Freedom and Fanautic locations in 34 U.S. states, Canada, UK, Europe, and Australia.  More information about Freedom Boat Club and membership opportunities can be found at and franchise opportunities at