Women speak of nautical adventures

Six Erie women who sailed from Michigan to Pennsylvania will tell the story of their adventure on Lake Erie in the "Unicorn," pictured above. The lecture will take place 2 p.m. Saturday in the Blasco Library, located at 160 E. Front St.

Though the bay may be frozen, the stories of six Erie women who sailed from Michigan to Erie for last September’s Tall Ships Erie festival will fire up the crowd at the Blasco Library Saturday.

The women will share their experiences aboard the 110-foot-long tall ship Unicorn through photos and storytelling 2 p.m. Saturday in the Hirt Auditorium at the Blasco Library, 160 E. Front St.

Admission is free and open to the public.

“I feel like not many students would know about it, but I think it’s neat,” said junior nursing major Jennifer Stephany, who also serves as a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma social sorority.

Stephany – who said she considers herself an adventurer – said hearing the stories of these women tackling what has historically been considered “men’s work” should make for an interesting presentation.

The women who sailed on the Unicorn work in a variety of professions, including Valerie Weaver, professional “fashionista”; Linda Stevenson, PNC Bank senior vice-president and Athena Powerlink Chair; Claudia Thornburg, vice president of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership; Rachel DeSimone, quality systems manager at American Tinning and Galvanizing Co.; Robin Scheppner, chief executive officer of American Tinning and Galvanizing Co.; and Beth Zimmer, vice president of business development at J. L. Nick.

Following Saturday’s lecture, audience members are encouraged to ask questions about their experiences.

More information about the lecture – as well as Erie’s maritime history – is available at http://www.eriemaritimemuseum.org.

The New Jersey-based, traditionally rigged Unicorn features an all-female professional crew and partners with Sisters Under Sail, a nonprofit leadership program for teenage girls, also based in New Jersey.

Gannon University students who catch the tall ship fever are in luck, as the university partnered with four local colleges and universities and the Flagship Niagara League last May to establish the Flagship Niagara College Consortium.

The program gives students the opportunity to receive college credit to work with peers as crew aboard the Flagship Niagara, as well as receive both shipboard and on-shore instruction about maritime history and the history of the Great Lakes.

 “It’s like a stereotype, that women can’t do everything,” Stephany said. “But this [Saturday’s presentation] will help give you hope that women can.”


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