Tall Ships: Made from old U-boats, Unicorn runs with all-female crew

05/13/2012 6:00 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Unicorn claims to be the only tall ship in the world crewed solely by women. It's the setting for Sisters Under Sail, a nonprofit organization that teaches teenage girls how to sail.

This week’s featured tall ship claims to be the only such vessel in the world that sails with an all-female crew.

Unicorn was built in Holland out of recycled metals captured from German U-boats in 1947. Originally a fishing vessel, it was christened Deo Volente I, which means, “God Willing.”

COURTESY PHOTO | Unicorn is among the tall ships that will visit Greenport over Memorial Day Weekend.

The 110-foot ship was next converted to sail power during the’70s and renamed Eenhorn — meaning “one horn” — the Dutch word for unicorn.

The tall ship changed hands and names a few times throughout the years. In 1995, it sustained hull damage in a collision with an ocean-going chemical tanker. With the cost of repairs exceeding its insured value, the ship was put on the market again.

A Canadian couple then bought the ship and operated it as sail training vessel.

Current owners Dawn and Jonathan Santamaria of New Jersey acquired it in 1999. The couple sailed the schooner, then named True North, with their four daughters.

In 2003, after receiving a complete refitting that took it down to its steel ribs, the ship was re-christened under its original sail name, Unicorn. Two years later, it became a United States-registered vessel and Dawn Santamaria founded “Sisters Under Sail” for teenage girls and women. The group said it has “put over 250 women at the helm” since the program was founded in 2005.

“Since inception, we’ve put aboard over 450 girls from all over the country and Canada,” Ms. Santamaria wrote in her biography.

“We enroll girls much like my daughters as well as serve under-represented teens who are making those good choices, but need and deserve leadership opportunities and our support,” she added. “By design to walk the talk, we are the only tall ship in the world that sails with an all-female crew. We want to be good role models, foster empowerment and give young women the chance to see what we women can do together when focused on a common goal.”

[email protected]