Sisters Under Sail program teaches girls the ropes

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The tall ship Unicorn docked last week at MacMillan Wharf at Provincetown, Mass., on Cape Cod as another chapter of the Bridgeport, Conn.-based Sisters Under Sail program closed.

The program is not only designed to teach teenage girls sailing in a non-intimidating environment by an exclusively female crew, it also seeks to give the girls an opportunity for a summer adventure they might not get elsewhere.

On Friday, the Unicorn dropped off a crew of teenage girls after a five-day adventure “mostly reserved for boys” before leaving Sunday for Mystic (Conn.) Seaport.

“The program is to teach young girls and women about trust, teamwork and build confidence,” said Unicorn engineer Meg Taylor.

The program offers women and girls the chance to get behind the wheel of the 110-foot tall ship and climb the rigging of its 96-foot mast.

“The experience aboard the ship, such as climbing the rigging and setting sail, has not only been fun, but has boosted my confidence levels and made me more comfortable in my own skin,” wrote 16-year-old Shannon from Hector, N.Y.

The non-profit, launched in 2005, also has programs for women to learn the ropes of sailing. About 45 percent of the girls who take advantage of the program are under-served. The program has put more than 450 teenage girls at the helm and has sold out during the past seven summers.

Many of the students come aboard via youth organizations such as the Girl Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Chicago Public School System and the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation.

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— Reagan Haynes

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