Sailing classes

Official Tall Ship of Texas launches sailing lessons in Galveston

Ahoy, sailors, people of the water, and history buffs: a Galveston foundation is gathering a crew for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail through history.

Residents are invited to join Elissa, Galveston’s beloved 19th-century freighter (and official Tall Ship of Texas) for sailing lessons on the floating icon, dubbed Elissa Sail Training, run by the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Interested prospective sailors can attend a free introductory meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 31 at the historic Galveston Seaport on Pier 22 Galveston (Harborside Drive between 21st and 22nd Streets). Participants are requested to bring a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, a hat and to wear closed shoes. The event will last until 5 p.m. with free beer and drinks at a closing social hour.

Those who attend the Elissa Sail training will learn ancient skills and techniques on maintaining a square-rigged sailboat, according to a press release. Volunteers can climb Elissa’s rigging to trim and furl the sails and maintain the intricate machinery of wood, wire and rope.

These tasks are not for the faint-hearted of those with a fear of heights; the ship’s main mast stands 99 feet above deck, press note.

After completing the 20 official courses, which take place on designated Saturdays from August 4 until March 26, 2002 – in addition to contributing the required man-hours to maintain the vessel – participants are then eligible to take Elissa out to sea.

A bit of history on the legendary ship: Elissa was originally a 19th-century British freighter and specialized in calling at small ports in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and double-loading cotton in Galveston, according to the foundation. The Galveston Historical Foundation buys the ship and begins its restoration.

Today, Elissa is one of only three pre-20th century sailing ships in the world to have been restored to full sailing capability. It has been designated by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark.