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Celebrating Women’s Achievements in Boating

Join us as we to celebrate some notable accomplishments of women in the industry by sharing their stories.

  • women driving a boat

Get ready, ladies, cause this day’s meant for you! As we welcome International Women’s Day on March 8, we wanted to celebrate some notable accomplishments of women in the industry by sharing their stories. From navigating their careers with children in tow to being in charge of significant roles in the boating world, these ladies are not only driven to succeed but know how to make it happen! Be inspired by these fun and fearless females below!

  • abbey heimensen on the water

Abbey Heimensen

MarineMax Vice President of Marketing and Vice President of Marine Marketers of America

As Vice President of Marketing at MarineMax, Abbey Heimensen has taken on a significant role as a well-respected leader. Not only does she have more than 20 years of marketing experience, but she was also successful as a director in Iowa’s tourism industry for Lake Okoboji before joining the MarineMax family in 2011. In her current role, Abbey works directly with the MarineMax executive team, regional presidents, and their marketing coordinators. She also oversees all marketing initiatives while managing the MarineMax marketing team and runs the North American marketing efforts for Galeon Yachts and global marketing endeavors for Aquila Power Catamarans. “I am truly blessed to be in a role where I help people make memories on the water with their friends and family and to be working for such an impactful and passionate company as MarineMax,” says Abbey.

Abbey loves her career and grows daily by surrounding herself with a team of intelligent, passion-driven people who successfully help navigate the ever-changing marketing waters in a male-dominated industry. She leads by example and offers the following advice, “Always have a mentor and always, always continue to learn. Never stop reading, searching, and reaching for the next piece of knowledge.” In terms of empowering women, Abbey has helped several advance professionally and realize their dream careers. She believes that thinking differently on a grander scale is effective within the industry and that gender should never precede abilities. She also encourages women not to limit themselves. 

When Abbey isn’t hard at work propelling the marketing team forward, she enjoys giving back to the community and spending time with her family. As the Vice President of Marine Marketers of America (MMA), she provides valuable input. In addition, she’s an active member of the local Clearwater, FL, area communities, participating in many charitable events and organizations. And to completely unwind, she can be found with her husband, Collin, and their Goldendoodle, Baxter, almost every weekend on their Boston Whaler, enjoying some of the finest boating Florida offers in the Tampa Bay region.

  • heather mess on a boat with two young girls

Heather Mess

National Marina Manager for MarineMax

Being an award-winning National Marina Manager for MarineMax is no easy task, but Heather Mess makes the process run as smoothly as possible. Marking nine years in the industry this month, Heather oversees 23 marinas, with more on the horizon. Throughout her time at MarineMax, Heather has spent time in various departments and feels that the knowledge gained from each has proven invaluable in her current role. “I have heard countless stories of individuals starting their journey in part-time or entry-level positions and growing into leadership roles within the industry—and I am a testament to this,” says Heather.

Heather believes that a career in the boating industry is gratifying and is unlike any other. “It’s a passion-driven journey,” explains Heather. Besides contributing to an industry that facilitates meaningful family experiences, Heather feels the most rewarding part of her role is the exceptional team she works with, alongside the positive and inspirational working environment. She also advises those in the industry or just starting. “My advice is to embrace the learning process and have fun. Exploring different facets of the business is common before discovering the area that truly ignites your passion,” says Heather.

When she’s not delivering a world-class experience and striving to exceed customer expectations at MarineMax marinas, being on the water is significant for her, especially when shared with family. She also loves the outdoors and enjoys connecting with nature, whether on the beach, paddleboarding, boating, gardening, hiking, or camping.

  • tina ernde on her teal boston whaler

Tina Ernde

MarineMax Social Media Manager

For Tina Ernde, what started as a job evolved into a career and now a family lifestyle. As a busy mom of two, boat owner, and Social Media Marketing Manager for MarineMax, Tina knows how it is to juggle a lot in life! She’s worked in marketing for more than 15 years, MarineMax for three, and reaches over 100K people on a daily basis through her messages on various social media platforms. And although she’s enjoyed her experience in different industries, the boating industry brings her the most fun and enjoyment.

When asked what advice she would give mothers to achieve a better work-life balance, Tina recommends doing things that make one feel fulfilled and helping others. “Parenting truly takes endless amounts of energy. Mine is fueled by staying grounded each week on the things I am most passionate about. Helping others has inspired me to enjoy a better work-life balance because I start each week on top rather than drained. By spending time with my kids volunteering and feeling fulfilled, I am no longer filling up my schedule with things to stay busy, but rather the things that bring the most value to me and my family,” says Tina.

Even with her busy schedule, Tina also finds the time to go boating on the weekends on her Boston Whaler 170 Montauk, Laguna Matata. She enjoys this time with her family and five-year-old, who loves to talk to other boaters and offer boating knowledge. And speaking of skills, Tina and her kids have mastered the art of tying boating knots after getting their initial boating lesson with Captain Keith, which they use whenever they are on the water.

  • captain sandy

More Ladies Creating Waves

In addition to our team members at MarineMax, many women boaters and females are making a splash in the industry. From staring in a reality TV show, such as Captain Sandy Yawn from “Below Deck Mediterranean” to Erika Albritton, a competitive dancer who purchased her boat at the age of 21, these fearless females are not only lessening the reservations some may have about taking the helm, but their impressive stories can also help motivate a new wave of lady boaters. See more of their stories in “5 Fun-Loving Females in Boating” and “Women in Boating: Ladies Take the Helm.”

Women Boaters are Growing

Ladies are shopping for a lot more these days. Besides the joy of discovering the perfect outfit or stunning décor to complete a room in the house, boats are piquing women's interests. In the past seven years, women browsing online for boats in the U.S. has increased by 246% and 66% globally.* Additionally, the same report also states that in 2023, Washington state had the highest amount of female boat consumers at 22.10%, followed by Pennsylvania, California, Texas, and Florida, all falling in the 20% range.* Speaking of numbers, even more exclusive Women on Water® classes are available at MarineMax—sign up today!

If you are looking for a boat, you’ve come to the right place! Discover the latest deals at MarineMax today!


*Statistics are based on an internal analysis conducted by in a 2023 online article.

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