Galveston Historical Foundation
setting the spanker sail

1877 Tall Ship ELISSA Sail Training

Sail training on ELISSA gives the participants the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sail onboard a 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 23, 2022, at the Galveston Historic Seaport on Galveston’s Pier 22, Harborside Drive between 21st and 22nd streets.


Those who participate in the ELISSA Sail Training program have the opportunity to learn ancient skills and techniques for 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.

The 2022/2023 schedule is as follows*:

July 23: Orientation
August 13: Class 2
August 27: Class 3
September 10: Class 4
September 24: Class 5 
October 8: Class 6
October 22: Class 7
October 29: Class 8 
November 12: Class 9
November 26: Class 10
December 3: Class 11
December 17: Class 12
December 12: Class 12
January 7: Class 13
January 21: Class 14 
February 4: Class 15
February 11: Class 16
February 25: Class 17
March 4: Class 18
March 18: Class 19
March 25: Class 20 
April 1: Make Ready
April 2– April? : Day Sails Times and Schedule TBD 

*Schedule subject to change

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. This local connection and the authenticity of her iron hull 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.


When does it start?

Orientation starts at 1 pm on Saturday, July 23rd. We will go to 5 pm and after we will have a social hour on the dock. Please stay, have libations and meet the crew.

How much does it cost?

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 close-toed shoes.

Where do we go?

You will come to the Galveston Historic Seaport located at Pier 22. Suite 8, in downtown Galveston. Orientation will be held outside on the dock and aboard ELISSA. We will be spending the entirety of orientation outdoors, please dress accordingly and 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.

Who is this designed for?

This sail training program is designed for those 18 years and up, no prior sailing knowledge is necessary!

How do we sign up?

You will sign up at the white table before the start of the orientation. Or, sign up HERE! 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 Valerie Smith.

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

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Kyle Hensley
Kyle Hensley
2 years ago

I very interested in helping and learning more about this ship. Is there a new schedule for 2021?

Crystal Rodriguez
Crystal Rodriguez
2 years ago

When does the Elissa set sail this year? We would love for our life skills class to be able to see it if possible.

8 months ago

If we are unable to attend the orientation, first meeting, may we still attend the other sessions?

8 months ago

How old must a child be to join?

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