Galveston Historical Foundation’s Texas Seaport Museum is seeking hardy volunteers to learn the ropes on board the 1877 iron barque ELISSA and help maintain this National Historic Landmark tall ship.

Sail training on ELISSA gives the participants the once in a lifetime chance to sail onboard an historic sailing ship from 1877 and literally, sail history! Don’t think you are a climber? No problem, we have needs for people of all abilities.  ELISSA’s sail training is an adventure activity for people of all ages and abilities. Young and older folks alike can find camaraderie and a rewarding experience either in ELISSA’s rigging or on her decks.

ELISSA is sailed and lovingly maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers that work and train year round. If you have longed to hoist a sail on a historic tall ship, now is your chance. Please join us for an introductory meeting for potential crew members scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday July 27, 2019 at the Texas Seaport Museum on Galveston’s Pier 21, Harborside Drive between 21st and 22nd streets.

Those who participate in the Seamanship Training Program have the opportunity to learn ancient skills and techniques on maintaining a square-rigged sailing ship. Volunteers may learn to climb ELISSA’s rigging to set and furl sails and maintain the intricate machinery of wood, wire and rope. These tasks require skill and bravery, as the ship’s main mast towers 99 feet above deck. After completing the classes, which take place on designated Saturdays, and contributing the required hours of work on the ship’s upkeep, participants are eligible to take ELISSA to sea.

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. It was this local connection, and the authenticity of her iron hull, that led Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) to purchase the vessel, then a cut-down motorship, and undertake her restoration. Today, ELISSA is one of only three pre-20th century sailing vessels in the world that have been restored to full sailing capacity. Designated by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark, ELISSA was named the “Official Tall Ship of Texas” in a resolution signed by Governor Rick Perry in June, 2005.

The 2019/2020 schedule is as follows:

Class 1 – July 27 : Orientation & New Crew Social
Class 2 – August 10
Class 3 – August 24
Class 4 – September 7 : Volunteer Appreciation Party
Class 5 – September 21
Class 6 – October 5
Class 7 – October 12
Class 8 – October 26 : ELISSA Birthday Party
Class 9 – November 9
Class 10 – November 23

Class 11 – December 7 : Dickens on The Strand
Class 12 – December 21
Class 13 – January 4
Class 14 – January 11
Class 15 – January 25 : Chili Cook-Off
Class 16 – February 1
Class 17 – February 15
Class 18 – February 29
Class 19 – March 7
Class 20 – March 21 : Graduation


When does it start?

Orientation Starts at 1:00 pm on Saturday, July 27th. We will go to 50 pm and after we will have a social hour on the dock. Please stay, have a beer and meet the crew.

How much does it cost?

The program is entirely free! There is no monetary charge. You will have to purchase some gear such as rig knives, crew shirts..etc The biggest cost is your time.

What to bring?

Please bring a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, hat and wear closed toed shoes.

Where do we go?

You will come to the Texas Seaport Museum located at 2200 Harborside Dr. in downtown Galveston. Orientation will be held inside the Museum to start. We will spend a portion of the day outside, so be prepared for the heat.

What is the point?

The program is designed to teach traditional skills of seamanship and maintenance to participants. Successful completion of the program is required to become part of the sailing crew of ELISSA on her annual sea trials in the spring! It’s a rare and incredible opportunity.

How do we sign up?

You will sign up at the white table before sitting down for the start of the orientation. We will contact you by email in the future. All Handouts will be available with information on dates, classes, requirements for graduation…etc.

Any other questions, contact Susan Vanderford.

For more information on joining the volunteer crew of ELISSA or to learn more about the campaign to Keep ELISSA Sailing, contact the Texas Seaport Museum at 409-763-1877.