Tallship Unicorn is adding another new chapter to its colorful history. The one-time fishing trawler and treasure hunter will sail this summer with an all-female professional crew as it conducts its Sisters Under Sail leadership sail training programs for teenage girls.
Dawn Santamaria, co-owner and executive officer of Unicorn, a 118-foot square-topsail, gaff-rigged schooner, says “This is something we’ve really wanted to do as the ship’s mission has developed. We wanted to ‘walk the talk’ by establishing a training ground for women in the tall ship industry where they can develop their skills and further their professional careers in a supportive environment.”
The dream became a reality when she found Capt. Tiffany Krihwan and Chief Mate Mindy Doroski to head a female crew that also includes a second mate, bosun, deckhands and cook.
Capt. Krihwan makes her land home in Jamestown, NY. A sailor since age 10 when she began racing small boats, Capt. Krihwan has served as Master of the 138-foot three-masted Schooner Denis Sullivan and the 137-foot Historical Landmark pilot schooner Roseway. Most recently she was Chief Mate aboard Pride of Baltimore II and the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s brigantine Exy Johnson.
She has received the Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship, the 2001 Governor’s Award for Environmental Education, and was one of three sailors sharing US Sailing’s Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for rescuing a lost seaman. After serving and teaching on research and education vessels, she began her tall ship career in 1997 as Mate aboard Appledore IV.
Chief Mate Doroski began sailing at 16 on Peconic Bay, Long Island. She graduated from LIU Southampton in 1999 with a degree in Environmental Science/Biology, and while still in college had her first taste of tall ships in the SEAmester program on the Harvey Gamage. When ashore, she lives on Long Island in the town of Greenport.
Like Capt. Krihwan, who studied Environmental Science at Edinboro University, Doroski crafted a career in environmental education aboard tall ships. Her first job was in the Grenadines as deckhand and hostess on the Kathryn B, and she has since acquired her Coast Guard license and served aboard ships in a variety of positions. Doroski has sailed the Atlantic from Maine to Panama, the Pacific from Panama to Canada, the Bahamas, West Indies and the Great Lakes. Her experiences range from studying sea turtles aboard the Geronimo to teaching at-risk youth to sail on the Appledore V.
Says Santamaria, “Capt. Krihwan and First Mate Doroski are the ideal women to serve as role models for our teenage girls in Sisters Under Sail, helping us demonstrate how their shipboard experience translates into making good choices as a teenager and staying on the right course.”
The non-profit Sisters Under Sail program was founded and developed by Santamaria. She says, “When I saw how sail training had life-altering impact on my four daughters by building confidence and leadership skills, I knew we had to take this to a whole new level.”
Sisters Under Sail is a fusion of a real-life sea experience and expert knowledge in building confidence and leadership skills The girls stand watch, take the wheel, set sails, navigate, swab the deck, bond with their shipmates and keep journals of their adventure.
In addition to its normal schedule, Santamaria conducts special, sponsored programs for disadvantaged teenage girls.
Last summer, Sisters sailed on the Great Lakes. Santamaria has been attending boat shows and busily signing on girls for this summer’s voyage, which ranges from Halifax, NS to Atlantic City. Except for one 11-day voyage from the Canadian Maritimes in July, each leg of the trip is a five-day Sisters Under Sail program open to six young women. The five-day program costs about $1,000.
Tallship Unicorn has always turned heads at boat shows and waterfront festivals with its rakish lines, but with a professional crew of women and a rotating crew of teenage girls it is certain to draw more admirers than ever before.
The summer program schedule:
Information on Tallship Unicorn is available from Dawn Santamaria, 908-713-1808 and at www.tallshipunicorn.com.
We Put Women at the Helm