We are Bill and Lisa Ballard, owners and caretakers of JO BETH.
Lisa was born in the mountains of east Tennessee and moved with her family to the Atlanta suburb of Doraville as a child. “Back when it really was ‘a touch of country in the city,’” she says, citing the famous Atlanta Rhythm Section song. She attended college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, earning dual degrees in systems engineering and economics from The Wharton Business School. It was there that she discovered sailing. Pennsylvania winters were cold and long. While browsing the available courses for an elective to earn engineering credits, and longing for a break from the bitter cold, Lisa came across an off-campus semester offered by the Sea Education Association, or SEA. “My introduction to sailing was as crew aboard a 125’ topsail schooner named WESTWARD.” The student-crew spent six weeks studying ashore at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, MA, and then six weeks at sea. “We sailed from Key West, Florida, through much of the southern Bahamas. We then went north back to Woods Hole, making a detour up the Delaware River to Philadelphia. I was hooked.” Hooked, indeed. As a graduation present she asked for sailing lessons at a sailing school located in Darien, GA, Blackbeard School of Sailing. Lisa has spent her career in marketing and public relations. She now is an independent consultant working primarily with technology companies.
Bill was born in the small town of Griffin in central Georgia. On his 16th birthday, he made his first skydive. “I love feeling the wind in my face,” he says, “but in college a back injury on a trampoline put an end to jumping out of airplanes.” He recovered and enjoyed hiking and backpacking, kayaking - anything that allowed him to be out doors. One afternoon, while still confined to a lunch hour and corporate-world job, he picked up a copy of ‘Around the World in WANDERER III,’ the story of Eric and Susan Hiscock’s circumnavigation of the world in a small wooden sailboat. “That book was a life-changer for me,” he says, “and all I wanted do from that point on was sail. I signed up for sailing lessons at the Blackbeard School of Sailing in Darien, GA. After the four day course, I bought my first sailboat, a 19’ Starwind 190 sloop. It was bare-bones sailing…no radio or depth sounder, just a small compass and a very high-maintenance outboard motor which didn’t run when needed most.” In 1987, Lisa and Bill met over the 4th of July weekend at the Blackbeard Sailing School, and were married 51 weeks later. “When I met Lisa I knew I had found someone with whom I could share my sailing dreams. We sailed that Starwind all along the Georgia coast. When we moved to Miami in 1989, we took the little Starwind with us, sailing all around Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. Truth is, we beat the daylights out of that little boat.” Bill is an independent marine surveyor and consultant, and also an accomplished photographer and published author.