LACONIA — Patricia Quinn, who this summer becomes the first woman skipper to pilot a Mount Washington Cruise Line ship, is used to breaking gender stereotypes.
Her first college degree in Rhode Island was as an industrial arts teacher, a field which few women have ventured into.
And she is currently the U.S. Coast Guard/Sector Boston's senior reserve officer, responsible for managing 159 reservists and keeping their skills sharp.
As a federal emergency management responder, she's worked as a liaison officer in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and as a member in the incident command post in the situation unit in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Quinn has also served as a member of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol, working there from 1990 through 1997. She split her time between Lake Winnipesaukee and the New Hampshire seacoast, where her skills at piloting 44-foot motor launches and 41-foot utility boats in tidal waters, learned during her four years of active service in the Coast Guard, made her a valuable addition to the Marine Patrol staff.
A certified special education teacher who earned her degree at Plymouth State University, Quinn worked for 20 years at the Kingswood Regional Vocational Center in Wolfeboro, where she was a vocational assessment specialist until that position was eliminated by budget cuts last year.
''There is life after Kingswood. I'm convinced things happen for a reason and I'm looking forward to a piloting the Doris E this summer,'' says Quinn, who has been a resident of the Lakes Region for 20 years.
''I love this area. It's really full of natural beauty and I really like being out on the lake. When you enjoy what you're doing it's not work,'' says Quinn.
She says that she was encouraged to apply for the pilot's position by Leo O'Connell, the cruise line's fleet commander and safety director, who thought her skills would make her a good match for the organization.
She says that she's learning the ropes under the tutelage of Captain Bob Duffey and starting to memorize the script that she'll be reading to passengers on the 68-foot excursion vessel, which makes several one hour trips daily between Weirs Beach and Meredith.
She's also being trained as purser aboard the 230-foot MS Mount Washington and says that she's reading a book by former Mount Washington purser Bruce Heald, ''Follow the Mount'', in order to familiarize herself with all of the landmarks around Lake Winnipesaukee.
Quinn lives in Alton Bay with her 85-year-old mother, whom she says is still very active and drives her own car, and says that she's within walking distance of the lake, where she likes to put in her kayak and enjoy some tranquil moments whenever she has the opportunity.
Patricia Quinn, the first woman to captain a Mount Washington Cruise Line ship, guides the Doris E into Meredith Bay. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)