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by Sandra Leinweber - Harper, Texas - USA

It all started with one of those weird 6 degrees of separation moments. Our daughter, Carol Marine, famous artist, was conducting a Daily Painting Workshop in San Antonio, TX.

One of her students, Ruth, is married to Jamie White, a master splicer and rigger and director of the Elissa, the historic tall ship anchored in the harbor in Galveston, Texas.

Long story short, he dropped by the workshop one day and got to talking with Carol, mentioned boats, she mentioned Duckworks, and we got an invitation for a personal tour of the Elissa. Chuck called Jamie soon after, and we had a date.

This past Thursday, we left early, Chuck and I and John and Cindy Denison, (boating friends from Colorado who spend time in Rockport every fall), heading from Magnolia Beach to Galveston Island. Growing up in Houston, I spent many a weekend in Galveston, sunning and swimming at Stewart Beach, eating sandy roast beef sandwiches that my Mom had packed (lots of mayo and pepper, I loved those!), seafood dinners and strolling on the Seawall. It all came back to me as we went across the bridge to the island.

The GPS took us down to the harbor. The Elissa was dwarfed by the Carnival cruise ship next door. Most of the parking is for the cruise ship line, but we found a lot near pier 21, and soon hooked up with Jamie. We watched the short video about the discovery of the Elissa in a harbor in Greece, waiting her turn in the scrap yard.

Jamie begins the tour from the dock.
Jamie tried to explain all the ropes and lines to us but it was hopeless.
Our first stop was up on the forecastle, where ordinary tourists are not allowed.
Behind Jamie you can see the Texas Seaport Museum which hosts and maintains the Elissa.
The Elissa is a three-masted Barque with 19 sails and miles of standing and running rigging.
The day we were there, a huge cruise ship was docked nearby and it really dwarfed the Elissa.
Our friends John and Cindy Denison who have sailed with us on many past adventures like the Texas200 and Lake Powell Kokopelis.
Apparently there is a certain way that the lines are arranged so that a sailor can tend sails even in the dark.
Behind John in the picture above is the ship's kitchen. Here is a shot through the door.
Below decks in what was the cargo hold, is an onboard museum which includes the map of all Elissa's voyages.
The display in the cargo hold is quite extensive and informative.
Aft of the Cargo Hold are the officer's quarters.
This brass plaque is original and indicates the Elissa was hull #294 from the yard of Alexander Hall of Aberdeen, Scotland, launched in 1877.
In the very back of the ship is the engine room.
We emerged from the bowels of the ship onto the afterdeck. Jamie pointed out that the furniture there was reproduced at great cost.
Even the ship's wheel had to be rebuilt.

Here are Jamie and Ruth on their wedding day. They met and wed aboard the ship.

More about the Elissa can be read HERE

Up the gangplank, onto the ship we go. The foredeck is roped off to tours, but Jamie takes us through. Just inside the Forecastle is the crew cabin, a tight little space with narrow bunks and thin mattresses. A hatch in the floor is unlocked, and we squeeze down a narrow ladder into the bowels of the boat. The first of many fans is running, battling the damp that in this environment will always be waiting. We can see the inside of the hull, rivets and welds, patches and pieces. Not sure I would want to be down here when underway!

Back on the deck, we check out the massive complicated lines of rigging holding up the main mast. To become eligible to crew on the Elissa, volunteers must undergo extensive sail training, and learn what each line does.

We peek inside the galley on deck, a narrow space with stove and counter.

Back under the deck and into the "hold", now decked for displays. When the Elissa was sailing commercially, the hold space was maximized - holding as much cargo as possible to make each trip financially profitable. A large map shows the routes the boat took - Europe to South America. Several times around the Capes as well. The Elissa docked twice at Galveston during her long career, and this was one of the key points that led to her purchase and restoration - one of the requirements for her to be where she is today.

Under the deck of the stern are the quarters of the first and second mate and the captain. Small spaces but a bit more than that afforded for the crew. Some of the original paneling and trim is here as well.

Last but not least, we view the engine room. Originally, the Elissa was restored as sail only, but the engine was added to make the day sails simpler - sailing in and out of her dock in the crowded Galveston harbor was not possible, and she had to be towed out into deeper, less crowded water before raising sail.

Jamie's wife Ruth joined us during the tour. Ruth was a volunteer, crewing on the boat, and they met when Jamie was hired to work on the boat. They were married on board in 2011, and said that it is a popular spot for weddings.

Thank you, Jamie and Ruth, for a wonderful tour!

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