It’s that time of year when a young woman’s heart turns to the sea…

Taking a break from all my reading about the lives of the women at sea during the age of sail, it’s like a breath of fresh air to return to the 21st century where young women can be found alow, aloft, at the navigation station and at the helm of ships everywhere — and aboard one American tall ship in particular.

The schooner Unicorn, owned by Dawn and her husband Jay Santamaria, is the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world.  Together with their four daughters — Brynn, Chelsea, Courtney and Samantha — the Santamarias promote traditional tall ship sail training and the preservation of maritime history through executive training programs, festivals and community youth involvement programs.

In 2005 Dawn founded Sisters Under Sail, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to build confedence, enhance self-esteem, develop social conscience and teach the value of working together through sail training.  Aboard the 118-ft. topsail schooner Unicorn, plying New England and Great Lakes waters, the young women learn to work together to sail a traditional ship and have the adventure of a lifetime, I’m certain!  As  founder and executive director of Sisters Under Sail,  Dawn was awarded the 2011 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award at the USA’s 10th Women’s Sailing Conference last summer. The award is sponsored by BoatUS and the National Women’s Sailing Association  — see article.

Santamaria’s unique sailing program has put aboard nearly 200 women and 400 teenage girls; nearly half of the teens were able to take part through the generosity of sponsors. To find out how to sponsor a teen in 2012 check out

To read about the Sisters at the 2010 Tall Ships Chicago festival see Rick Spillan’s  Old Salt Blog’s post

This year teenaged daughters  of  deployed U.S. Military service members are invited to sail aboard Unicorn to honor their parents as part of the  bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812.   See The Fyddye Guides Fri. Jul 1, 2011.

“This ain’t no cruise sister, it’s the adventure of a lifetime!”

Oh, to be young again…