sailing, takes me away

The Official Tall Ship of Texas launches once-in-a-lifetime sailing classes in Galveston

The Official Tall Ship of Texas launches sailing classes in Galveston

Elissa ship Galveston sailing wheel
Train on a piece of sailing history with these new classes.   Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation

Ahoy, sailors, water folk, and history buffs: A Galveston foundation is mustering crew for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail history.

Locals are invited to board Elissa, Galveston’s beloved, 19th-century cargo ship (and The Official Tall Ship of Texas) for sailing lessons on the floating icon, dubbed Elissa Sail Training, led by the Galveston Historical Foundation

Interested potential sailors can attend a free, introductory meeting at 1 pm on Saturday, July 31, at the Galveston Historic Seaport on Galveston’s Pier 22 (Harborside Drive between 21st and 22nd streets). Attendees are asked to bring a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, and to wear close-toed shoes. The event will last until 5 pm with complimentary beer and drinks at a closing social hour.

Those who participate in the Elissa Sail Training will learn ancient skills and techniques on maintaining a square-rigged sailing ship, according to a press release. Volunteers can climb Elissa’s rigging to set and furl sails and maintain the intricate machinery of wood, wire, and rope.

These tasks aren’t for the faint of heart of those with a fear of heights; the ship’s main mast towers 99 feet above deck, press materials note.

After completing the 20 official classes, which take place on designated Saturdays starting August 4 and running through march 26, 2002 — as well as contributing the required hours of work on the ship’s upkeep — participants are then eligible to take Elissa to sea.

A little background on the storied ship: Elissa was originally a 19th-century British cargo ship and specialized in calling at smaller ports of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and twice-loaded cotton at Galveston, according to the foundation.The  Galveston Historical Foundation purchased the vessel and launched its restoration.

Now, Elissa is one of only three pre-20th century sailing vessels in the world that have been restored to full sailing capacity. She has been designated by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark.