Tall Ship Elissa Fundraising On Track – Not So Endangered After All

Last week we posted about America’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Ships of 2011, a list compiled by Joe Follansbee at the Fyddeye Guides.  This sort of list is interesting and useful in that it starts conversations about ships which require attention and could easily be overlooked.

There is at least one ship on the list, the barque Ellisa, that, while needing repairs, is in no danger of being ignored and is not “endangered” in any real sense.  This summer, it was found that a number of hull plates on the the 134-year-old barque had suffered serious electrolytic corrosion.  It is believed that the corrosion was a result of stray current from an underwater electrical cable broken by Hurricane Ike. The Fyddeye Guide noted that “the U.S. Coast Guard found severe hull deterioration and declared the ship unseaworthy, and thus unable to earn her keep.”  The problem with this statement is that while, like the Star of India, the barque Elissa is sailed at least once yearly, she does not “earn her keep” from sailing.

The good news in all of this is that the Galveston Historical Foundation and its Texas Seaport Museum, which owns the Elissa, is run by highly competent and knowledgeable folks, backed by a legion of dedicated volunteers. Jamie White, the director of the Texas Seaport Museum is a master rigger with more than 30 years of experience in the historic sailing ship community. He directs a team of experienced ship preservationists. The museum’s volunteers typically donate 30,000 hours per year to the Elissa’s upkeep.

The museum, volunteers and the Galveston community are now on their way toward raising $3 million to repair the ship. To donate to the repair effort visit the the Galveston Historical Foundation or text ELISSA to 50555 on your cell phone to make a $10 donation. Drinking Saint Arnold’s Elissa IPA can also help the ship.  The Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Texas oldest craft brewery, has named their Indian Pale Ale after the Elissa and is donating a portion of all the proceeds from the beer towards the repair of the the ship.

Elissa campaign on track to reach goal in 2012 

Thanks to Irwin Bryan for pointing out the article.

This entry was posted in Current, Lore of the Sea, Ships and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tall Ship Elissa Fundraising On Track – Not So Endangered After All

  1. As the writer of the “10 Most Endangered List,” I believe Elissa is endangered until her hull is repaired and the CG re-certifies her. While I have complete confidence in the Galveston Historical Society, $3 million is no small amount for a heritage non-profit to raise in good times or bad. And I’ve seen enough stories about these kinds of situations to wonder if shipwrights might find other problems once the work begins. Perhaps I’m just a pessimist, and I dearly hope that I’m wrong. But until she’s under way with the feds’ blessing, we should all be worried about her.

  2. Rick Spilman says:

    The problem that I have is with the word “endangered.” Exactly what danger is the Elissa in?

    Because she has been well maintained and kept sailing, she is in far better shape than most historical vessels that have been tied up alongside the dock and left to rust. A quick glance at the Wavertree and Peking in New York harbor demonstrates the difference. The Elissa suffered a casualty. Roughly 16% of her plating needs replacement or repair to keep her sailing. The GHS is on its way to raising the money to fix her and they expect her to be sailing again in the not so distant future. To put her in the same category as the long neglected Olympia or even the Wavertree and the Peking, which didn’t make the “endangered list” but perhaps should have, doesn’t seem fair.

  3. As I mentioned in my article, “endangered” can have several meanings, not just physical danger, but also financial danger, poor-planning danger, and so on. I’ve seen all kinds. I wanted to include a broad range to show that danger comes in many forms, and that we need to be vigilant against all threats, not just the threats that come from age. As GHS has learned, the worst dangers are the hidden ones. GHS is doing a fine job of attacking Elissa’s problems, but she is a long way from returning to her former state, in my view. Incidentally, Elissa was nominated by one of my readers, though I agree with the assessment. And I included Peking in my “extras” paragraph at the bottom of the article. I’ve also had many comments about Wavertree. I expect Peking and Wavertree both be nominated for the 2012 endangered list.

  4. Rick Spilman says:

    For what it is worth, I understand that the GHS hopes to have the Elissa on dock this summer and sailing again this fall. Whether they succeed with these rather ambitious targets remains to be seen. Nevertheless, if the Elissa is worthy of the top ten “endangered list,” I wish the rest of the list shared her prospects.

  5. Jamie White says:

    From the moment a vessel slides down the building ways and into her element, one could make the argument that a vessel is “endangered”; endangered from a lee shore; from a rogue wave; from poor seamanship or a host of other perils.

    I want to repeat that ELISSA is not endangered -that she is faced with a challenge that we are rising to and with the help of ELISSA’s many friends and supporters she will be sailing by the end of this year. It is a great disservice to include ELISSA on an “endangered” list.

    I encourage anyone who wants to know the facts to read my blog at Notes from the Quarterdeck or give me a call. Sincerely,

    James L. White
    Texas Seaport Museum / 1877 Barque ELISSA
    Pier 21, Number 8
    Galveston, TX 77550
    409-763-3037 FAX

    “Of all the living creatures upon land and sea, it is ships alone that cannot be
    taken in by barren pretences, that will not put up with bad art from their masters”
    (Joseph Conrad ~ Mirror of the Sea).

  6. Kurt Voss says:

    I began volunteering aboard the ELISSA in 1980, when she was a just a bare hull. At the time, many “experts” said that Galveston Historical Foundation would never complete the project or we would have to compromise the high standards to which the ship was being restored. We proved the naysayers wrong. I’m convinced that today’s cynics will find themselves in the same position.

  7. John Shelley says:

    There I a Tall ship in Ireland in danger and .
    I am hopefull. after reading about the alias
    good luck