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PAmeLA WALL<br />

society of mackinac island old goats<br />

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FALL <strong>2017</strong>

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FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com 1

from the editor<br />

The <strong>2017</strong> Chippewa<br />

delivery crew, from<br />

left: Gail Anderson;<br />

Vicki Burgett;<br />

Blue Water Woman<br />

Editor Patti Samar;<br />

Skipper Pam Wall;<br />

and Dee Caimi<br />

Our crew was ready to leave Mackinac Island so I asked the college-aged female marina<br />

attendant to give us a hand as we cast off from the dock.<br />

She walked to the sailboat with me and took a look at our crew.<br />

“Wow! It’s all women! It is all women, right?”<br />

I smiled and nodded. “Yup.”<br />

“That’s awesome! I’ve never seen that! Girl power!”<br />

Twenty-four hours later, as our boat approached the gas dock in Presque Isle following a rough<br />

day on the <strong>water</strong> – eight to 10 foot waves slowed our progress south – another college-aged female<br />

marina attendant took the dock line from my hand as we sidled up to fill with gas.<br />

“All women?” she asked incredulously, looking at the five of us, all wind-blown and covered up in<br />

foul weather gear.<br />

“Yup,” I said with another smile.<br />

“I’ve never seen that before. Talk about girl power!” (Yes, two dock attendants, almost 100 miles<br />

apart, both said “girl power!”)<br />

Later that evening, as our crew sat in the cockpit, staring at the starriest of skies that can only<br />

be seen in the northern wilderness, our night-capper cocktails in hand, I told my friends about my<br />

brief conversations with the dock attendants. “Why don’t more women sail?” I asked.<br />

I “retired” from serious sailboat racing after the 2013 season, but I still love to jump on a boat<br />

and go out and have fun. For almost 20 years I crewed on various boats – for 12 years with the<br />

same rag-tag crew on a boat called Rum – and I thought it was more fun than anyone could ever<br />

package into 33 feet of fiberglass.<br />

I was the only <strong>woman</strong> on the crew of that boat and I was fortunate enough to be invited to do<br />

a total of 10 Mackinac races, including a couple of Chicago-to-Mackinac races as well as a Super<br />

Mac, which involved five days of sailing, laughing and having too much fun in 47 feet of close<br />

quarters with 14 of my closest friends – all but one other were men. The only other gal on board<br />

was the boat owner’s 12-year-old daughter.<br />

My friend Pam Wall started racing one-man sailboats and then, later, windsurfers, back in the<br />

late 1970s when her then-boyfriend, now-husband, got her interested in the sport. However, he<br />

didn’t teach her how to sail; she taught herself. Two national windsurfing championships later, she<br />

began sailing on big boats and 25 Mackinac races later, this summer she earned her place in Bell’s<br />

Bayview Mackinac racing history when she became only the 15th <strong>woman</strong> to become a member<br />

of the Society of Mackinac Island Old Goats, signaling completion of 25 Port Huron to Mackinac<br />

races. Literally hundreds of men have earned a spot in the society.<br />

Why only 15 women?<br />

Throughout the week-long trip home, at every port, someone approached our crew and noted<br />

how “brave” we were. Our own friends here at home commented on our Facebook posts and told<br />

us we were “courageous.”<br />

For what? For jumping on a sailboat without a man?<br />

I appreciated the sentiment behind what our friends were saying as they tried to “congratulate”<br />

us simply for being five women on board a sailboat traversing one of the Great Lakes. But I’ve<br />

done this delivery before following Mackinac races and no one ever told me I was brave. So I’m<br />

suddenly braver because there is no man on board?<br />

Our skipper, Pam, has won more Mackinac races than any man I know and this year, she<br />

skippered her boat to third place in her class.<br />

My point here is this: there is nothing “braver” about doing things without a man.<br />

But, there is fun and laughter in sharing travel experiences with others. And while most of<br />

us travel with our families, there is also something rich and creamy like the most decadent of<br />

chocolates about traveling with your girlfriends. Especially in close quarters on a sailboat. After one<br />

of your friends has become one of the most kick-ass women on the Great Lakes. And you all raise<br />

your night-cappers in a toast to her each night, in every port, just because there is such joy in being<br />

together.<br />

Peace,<br />


PAmela wall 4<br />

deidre slingerland 6<br />

mary taylor 8<br />

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sign a one-year contract and it becomes just $225 a quarter!<br />

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For more information, contact Patti Samar<br />

at 810-300-2176 or email her at pjsamar@aol.com<br />

volume 7, number 3 FALL <strong>2017</strong><br />

Blue Water Woman is published quarterly by The Write Company,<br />

511 La Salle Blvd., Port Huron, MI 48060. Circulation 5,000.<br />

Editor & Publisher:<br />

Patti Samar, owner, The Write Company<br />

Advertising:<br />

Patti Samar at pjsamar@aol.com<br />

Questions, comments or story ideas?<br />

Contact Patti Samar at pjsamar@aol.com<br />

Mission:<br />

Blue Water Woman is the premiere publication<br />

for women living, working and playing in the Blue Water Area of Michigan.<br />

Its stories and features are written and designed<br />

to be inspriational, motivational and encouraging.<br />

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© Blue Water Woman is the property<br />

of Patti Samar of The Write Company<br />

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and marketing consultation firm.<br />

View our online portfolio at: www.TheWriteCompany.net<br />

Patti Samar<br />

Editor & Publisher<br />

Blue Water Woman<br />

2 FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com

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FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com 3

many<br />

mackinacs<br />

Pam wall<br />

4 FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com<br />

by Patti Samar<br />

Go ahead and call Pam Wall an old goat.<br />

Wall, 63, of Algonac, won’t get upset. Instead, she will likely just<br />

smile her beautiful ear-to-ear smile.<br />

In July, Wall skippered her Tartan 34 sailboat, Chippewa, to a third<br />

place finish in the Bells Bayview Mackinac sailboat race and, upon<br />

crossing the finish line, became only the 15th <strong>woman</strong> in the history of<br />

the race to complete 25 Port Huron to Mackinac races, thus earning<br />

her a place in the Bayview Yacht Club’s Society of Mackinac Island<br />

Old Goats. Hundreds of men have achieved this recognition.<br />

A native of the city of Detroit, Wall did not begin sailing until she<br />

was in her 20s and was dating her now-husband, Robert.<br />

Though her husband had a lot of sailing by the time the two paired<br />

up, Wall taught herself how to sail on a Hobie 14 catamaran. The<br />

couple traveled around the Midwest racing the boats, which were very<br />

popular in the 1970s and 1980s.<br />

“It was really fun times,” she said. “Their slogan was ‘Live the Hobie<br />

life’ and we did. That was my introduction into sailing.”<br />

She eventually took up competitive windsurfing and ended up<br />

winning two national championships in the women’s division, the first<br />

in 1979 and the second in 1983.<br />

By 1990, the couple was ready to begin sailing big boats together for<br />

a more family-friendly experience so they could take their three kids<br />

along on the <strong>water</strong> and so they purchased Chippewa.<br />

She has sailed on every Mackinac the boat has sailed since they<br />

purchased it.<br />

“I’ve just been going ever since,” she said.<br />

Did she aspire to become an old goat?<br />

“I didn’t really think about it until last year I was like, ‘Hey, this is<br />

the 24th…’”<br />

Once the race was completed this year, her husband and family<br />

members surprised her with a party on the west porch of the Grand<br />

Hotel to commemorate the occasion of her “old goat-ness.”<br />

She encourages other women to become involved because it is fun<br />

and challenging.<br />

“I don’t know why women feel they can’t do it,” she said. “They can<br />

do it. Look to other people.”<br />

She did note that it can be more difficult for women to rise through<br />

the ranks on a sailboat crew when compared to men, who can step<br />

foot on a sailboat with no knowledge but their physical strength allows<br />

them to contribute immediately in meaningful ways that women<br />

cannot.<br />

“I think it’s definitely harder as a <strong>woman</strong>,” she said. “I think you<br />

have to work twice as hard to prove yourself as a <strong>woman</strong> on a boat.”<br />

She noted that she has not encountered that issue because she has<br />

always owned her own boat.<br />

“I’m empowered because of a man, really,” she said, noting her coownership<br />

of the boat with her husband. “I was able to be on a boat<br />

without any barriers because I own the boat.”<br />

She noted that some husbands and wives are uncomfortable sailing<br />

together because there tends to be a lot of yelling during a sailboat<br />

race.<br />

“Sometimes you just speak sharply because you mean, ‘Right now!’”<br />

she said with a laugh. “That’s when immediate action needs to be<br />

taken.”<br />

Wall’s enthusiasm for the sport is unwavering. “I’d live on my<br />

sailboat,” she laughed.

FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com 5

going<br />

home<br />

by PATTI SAMAR<br />

Deidre Slingerland<br />

Though she didn’t know it at the time, Deidre Slingerland, 33, of Port<br />

Huron, was looking for a home.<br />

When she found it, she knew because her heart told her.<br />

Slingerland, a 2002 graduate of Port Huron Northern, is preparing to<br />

move part way around the globe in order to follow her heart and live in<br />

a place where she feels more at home than she’s ever felt and also allows<br />

her the opportunity to help others in a way that she knows is right.<br />

In the 15 years that have passed since her high school graduation,<br />

Slingerland has attended college – she is one semester short of a<br />

bachelor’s degree in psychology – and tried on a number of different<br />

careers. She worked for several years in the local media at Radio First.<br />

“It was too much of the same thing, over and over,” she said. “How<br />

many times am I going to introduce this song and give the weather?”<br />

She obtained a license as a pharmacy technician, which sent her to<br />

Ann Arbor where she scored a job at the University of Michigan and<br />

then transferred to the Behavioral Center of Michigan, where she<br />

reviewed patient charts, looking for opportunities to change treatment<br />

for patients.<br />

“I felt like I was contributing to the drug problem and was not part<br />

of the solution,” she said of her work there.<br />

It was during her time there when she stumbled upon an online<br />

challenge. RandomActs.org was looking for people who were willing<br />

to fundraise $5,000 for the opportunity to visit Haiti where volunteers<br />

were needed to continue helping rebuild the country following the<br />

devastating 2010 earthquake.<br />

Slingerland raised the money needed for the project, went to Haiti in<br />

2013 and knew that she had found her calling; she knew helping others<br />

was the key to her own personal fulfillment.<br />

She returned home following her one week trip and began<br />

putting into place an action plan so she could join on with another<br />

RandomActs.org trip. This time, the organization was helping build a<br />

high school in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.<br />

It was late 2015 when Slingerland made her first trip to Nicaragua<br />

and it was life changing.<br />

“We went down for a week and we hammered some nails,” she said<br />

with a chuckle. “But I wanted to get down there and really get to know<br />

these people and know their story. I wanted to see their project come to<br />

life.”<br />

Earlier this year, Slingerland spent six weeks in San Juan del Sur,<br />

again volunteering and helping build the high school. Her heart swelled<br />

with love for the people and the community in spite of the fact that she<br />

doesn’t speak Spanish, although she is learning.<br />

“This project transcends language; this is really lifting people up,” she<br />

said of the school construction. “I was able to take in what was coming<br />

at me and not make it about me anymore. I went down there not sure<br />

I’d be able to do what they needed me to do, but it worked out.<br />

“They are a people who have nothing, but everybody there is alive<br />

with possibility,” she said. “Haiti is the poorest country and Nicaragua<br />

is the second poorest country, but there is something less painful about<br />

their devastation. And I am not ungrateful for what I have here, but<br />

I’ve never fit in around here and I always took pride in the fact that I<br />

don’t fit in around here, and I feel drawn back.<br />

“Everyone smiles while they work and everyone’s dancing. I feel like I<br />

fit in there. That simplicity makes more sense to me.<br />

“There’s something alive in me when I’m there that I didn’t know<br />

was dormant.”<br />

Slingerland is returning to Nicaragua in early September and plans<br />

to stay until the end of the year. She is currently fundraising for monies<br />

to help finish construction of the high school. Donations can be made<br />

locally through The Center of Port Huron, 723 Court Street, Port<br />

Huron MI 48060 and should be earmarked for Deidre Slingerland/San<br />

Juan del Sur school. You can follow her blog at: www.gooddeids.com.<br />

6 FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com

A Blog you’ll wAnt to follow<br />

ABout greAt lAkes. greAt Adventure. greAt women.<br />

Reported & Written by Patti Samar<br />

greatlakes<strong>woman</strong>.com<br />

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FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com 7

full-time<br />

passion<br />

by patti samar<br />

mary taylor<br />

8 FALL <strong>2017</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com<br />

What started as a part-time job became a full-time passion for Mary<br />

Taylor, 57, of Port Huron.<br />

That passion was recently rewarded when Taylor, assistant director of the<br />

Council on Aging of St. Clair County (COA), was named the <strong>2017</strong> recipient<br />

of the Laura Newsome Legacy Award by Sanborn Gratiot Memorial<br />

Home, which is managed by Blue Water Developmental Housing, Inc.<br />

(BWDH).<br />

Taylor has worked at the COA for 30 years and has served in a number<br />

of roles during her tenure with the agency. She was honored at the annual<br />

Sanborn Gratiot Memorial Home luncheon held in June.<br />

The legacy award, named for COA retired executive director Laura<br />

Newsome, is presented each year to “an individual or organization residing<br />

within the Blue Water Area of Michigan who, via their professional<br />

affiliation or volunteer efforts, or due to its mission and services, has<br />

improved and enriched the lives of seniors in and around St. Clair County,<br />

Michigan.”<br />

“Mary Taylor is dedicated to improving the lives of senior citizens in<br />

our community and we are honored to be able to recognize her many<br />

efforts given over a number decades,” said Kathy Swantek, executive<br />

director of BWDH. “Her passion for serving this population is more than<br />

commendable.”<br />

Taylor said she is humbled by the award. “It has been surreal,” she said,<br />

noting that just a couple of years ago she helped put together the original<br />

award that honored Newsome. “It’s a very humbling experience.<br />

“You don’t do this job looking for accolades,” she said. “You do this job<br />

because you want to make a difference. Coming into this agency and being<br />

able to draw a paycheck for helping people? Not everybody gets to do that.”<br />

During her tenure with the agency, Taylor has been responsible for raising<br />

tens of thousands of dollars to support activities that benefit seniors; she<br />

has coordinated the work between the COA and the Area Agency on Aging<br />

1-B to ensure that all grants are properly reported and audited; she served<br />

as the liaison between the agency and the county emergency management<br />

office; and she serves on the Community Services Coordinating Body,<br />

among other duties.<br />

“It allowed, at times, for me to have my family working with me,” she<br />

said, noting that her husband and two (now-grown) children volunteered<br />

for a variety of projects. “My kids thought everyone made turkey for<br />

Thanksgiving for 400 people,” she said with a laugh.<br />

“But they are very comfortable with senior citizens now, which was a side<br />

benefit. They had a whole bunch of grandmas and grandpas.”<br />

She said keeping seniors connected with their families has been a priority<br />

at the COA. “For a lot of them, their family doesn’t live here anymore so<br />

Skyping or Facebook is important to keep up with family,” she said. “We<br />

have classes on how to use their smart phones and computers.”<br />

Working in human services was not part of Taylor’s original career<br />

plans. In fact, she trained to work very closely with animals. A graduate<br />

of Michigan State University, she majored in public affairs management,<br />

which was a part of the college of agriculture. She has minors in finance<br />

and animal selection and genetics.<br />

After graduation, she ended up working for the American Guernsey<br />

Cattle Club. Taylor had long been involved in 4-H and found working with<br />

genetic testing and engineering in the 1980s fascinating.<br />

“Dolly the sheep had been cloned and we laid down the groundwork for<br />

what would happen with (cattle) embryo transport,” she said. “They were<br />

breeding for specific things, like for more milk output. I never in my life<br />

expected what we had done with cows would happen with people.”<br />

Taylor has also been an active and involved member of the community.<br />

For 35 years she has served as a 4-H leader, has been involved with Knights<br />

of Columbus Daughters, and she has been involved in the Walk Out of the<br />

Darkness event to help prevent suicide.<br />

“I work with youth in my free time and I work with seniors here,” she<br />

said. “I enjoy getting the kids together with the seniors. Anybody who has<br />

the chance to work with today’s youth realizes we aren’t going to be that<br />

bad off. They just need someone who will listen to them.”

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Patti Samar, Owner/Editor/Publisher Blue Water Woman<br />

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St. Clair, Michigan<br />

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FALL <strong>2017</strong> BLueWAterWomAn.com 9

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