Joni B and the Persistence "Sailing Chicks" - Who are they?

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July 4, 2015 by Monica Grant

I know our crew is a bit unusual. After all, how often do you find a crew that consists of single, middle aged women? Here are our stories:

JONI - I am the owner and captain of Persistence,  a Catalina 320. When I was growing up, I was always around boats during the summer. I learned to sail a Sunfish at a young age. When I was in my 20's I purchased a 16' daysailer which I trailered, then kept in Muskegon, MI. Eventually I wanted something bigger (you know how that goes!) which I would be able to use for extended sailing. I ended up with a Pearson 27 sailboat. I had family who also enjoyed sailing, so we spent a lot of time sailing on Lake Michigan. I also got my Bareboat Sailing Certifications (including a liveaboard certification in the BVI -what a great experience!)

When Persistence came up for sale, I had an idea: Why not make some money by setting it up as a bareboat charter service? There really are no charter companies in the central part of West Michigan. Besides, my family had lost interest in sailing so I no longer had a crew. I did this for several years, but it was a lot of hard work and because of the short season I never made much money. So there I was with this beautiful boat but no crew.   Enter...

KAY - Kay had always dreamed about sailing. Although she had spent time in her youth on lakes and around boats, it didn't include sailing. When she was newly married, she went with her husband on a business trip to the BVI. She fell in love with the islands, and especially with the sailing yachts that she saw there. She longed to someday go on a sailing trip, but it never happened. We met through a mutual friend, and soon Kay and I were part of a group of single women friends. This group also included:

CORY - Cory learned about boating from her parents, who were active in the Power Squadron. Although raised on power boats, she always wanted to learn to sail. She was fortunate to find a friend who taught her. Their first sailboat was a little daysailer where all the sail handling was done manually. Then they graduated to a Venture 21 with a swing keel. They trailered that boat around to different ports on Lake Michigan - even sailing the Straights Of Mackinac!

Shortly after we met, Cory realized (by looking at my library) that I "was into sailing". Of course that started a whole sailing topic and when we found out about Kay's dream to sail the BVI (and my longing to go back again as well) we put the plan to action. Five years ago we chartered a sailboat in the BVI and had a truly wonderful trip. Yes there were a few mishaps (and a lot of laughter) but we came back knowing a lot more about sailing. More importantly, I realized that I had finally found my crew! Then we added:

MARLENE - Marlene was another of our friends, but she had no interest in sailing. She thought it would be extremely boring, and a lot like camping (also not a favorite activity). She decided to give sailing a try. Now she loves it! Of course she found out what we already knew; sailing is never boring. As someone once put it to me, "It's the most excitement you can have at five miles an hour!" Marlene is also our master organizer on board and always keeps us ship-shape.

So this is the crew of Persistence. We spend almost every weekend in the summer on board in Pentwater, MI. We may be the only all female crew there, but I will say that we handle our boat as well as anyone. We even sailed the boat all the way back into our slip a few years ago when the engine quit on us. I'm so proud of my crew and how far we have come! So for any women out there who might be dreaming of sailing, I say,

"Go for it! Who cares if you are a woman, or if you are middle aged. Follow your dream and get out there. You will be glad you did."

 - Joni B and the Persistence Sailing Chicks


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