Galveston Historical Foundation
setting the spanker sail
ELISSA Sail Training Program

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 volunteer group that works and trains year-round. Now is your chance if you have longed to hoist a sail on a historic tall ship. Please join us for an introductory meeting for potential crew members scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday, July 20, 2024, 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 wood, wire, and rope machinery. 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 2024/2025 schedule is as follows*:

7/20: Class 1 (Orientation)
8/3: Class 2
8/17: Class 3
8/31: Class 4
9/14: Class 5
9/28: Class 6 (Volunteer Appreciation)
10/5: Class 7
10/19: Class 8 (Team Test)
10/26: Class 9 (Test 1 & ELISSA Birthday)
11/9: Class 10
11/23: Class 11
12/7: Class 12 (Dickens on The Strand)
12/3: Makeup 4
12/21: Class 13
1/4: Class 14
1/18: Class 15 (Test 2 & Chili Cookoff)
2/1: Class 16
2/15: Class 17
3/8: Class 18
3/22: Class 19
3/29: Class 20 (Graduation)
4/5: Make Ready
4/7-4/25: Daysails

*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?

Check-in begins at noon, and orientation starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 20th. We will go until 5 p.m., and then we will have a social hour on the dock. Please stay, have libations, and meet the crew.

Where do I park?

There is no complimentary parking near the Galveston Historic Seaport. There are paid lots directly in front and paid street parking across the street on The Strand.

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 ELISSA’s sailing crew on her spring annual sea trials! 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.

If you have 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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Michael halligan
Michael halligan
1 month ago

Congratulations graduation class good luck on your day sail so much fun

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