- Series: Images of America
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (November 9, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 073857855X
- ISBN-13: 978-0738578552
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,397,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Galveston's the Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas (Images of America) Paperback – November 9, 2009
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Title: Author focuses on Elissa, people behind ship
Author: Mark Lardas
Publisher: The Daily News
One of Galveston’s jewels is the barque Elissa, a three-masted tall ship built in the 19th century, the ship has been on display for so long ― 27 years ― it is easy to think she has been there forever.
Yet the ship found its Pier 21 berth in Galveston’s harbor only after a series of adventures that nearly ended its existence.
The story of Elissa’s discovery, purchase and restoration is worth reading about, as is its prior history.
Kurt Voss, the former director of the Texas Seaport Museum, tells the story in “Galveston’s The Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas.”
The book is only 124 pages, but it is as comprehensive a history as can be found.
Voss starts from the Elissa’s construction in 1877 and follows it forward to the present ― including adventures during Hurricane Ike.
It is copiously illustrated with 200 black and white photographs.
This includes many rare photographs of the Elissa’s early years.
The chapters that discuss Elissa during the period when it was a working sailing ship are punctuated by pictures of the yard in which it was constructed, of the original owners, and of the Elissa itself.
Voss follows the ship’s history after the original owner sold her during its years among Scandinavian owners.
He trails the ship through its numerous changes of owners, names and rig.
There is also a section about Elissa’s nadir ― when as a motorship, it smuggled cigarettes into Italy.
There, it was discovered by a pair of sailing ship enthusiasts who recognized the tall ship hidden under the motorship.
This eventually led to the ship’s preservation and restoration.
Ship enthusiasts will find the sections detailing the restoration of the ship fascinating.
All aspects of this work are covered and illustrated, from the initial repairs to the final rigging out of the ship.
After these are chapters on Elissa’s career as a sailing museum ship.
This includes its trip to New York in 1986 as part of Operation Sail, through escorting USS Texas into Galveston for its 2006 commissioning ceremony.
This book should appeal to those with a casual interest in Elissa as well.
Voss focuses on the people behind the Elissa as much as on the ship itself.
Readers get to meet people as diverse as the family of Elissa’s builder and first owner to the volunteers who help man the ship today.
“Galveston’s The Elissa” is worth attention.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian and model-maker, lives in League City.
Author Kurt D. Voss, the former director of the Texas Seaport Museum, will sign copies of his book, “Galveston’s the Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas,” at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Texas Seaport Museum, 2200 Harborside, in Galveston.
Title: ‘Elissa’ author to sign books
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: The Daily News
Author Kurt D. Voss, former director of the Galveston Historical Foundation’s Texas Seaport Museum, will sign copies of his book “Galveston’s the Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas,” at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Texas Seaport Museum, 2200 Harborside.
The reception includes a lecture by Voss and unveiling of a new Elissa photo exhibit at the museum.
“This book has been a labor of love,” Voss said. “It tells a story about one of the most significant historic preservation efforts in Texas history. It’s a story that needs to be passed from generation to generation of Texans.”
The book recalls how, with painstaking care, dozens of craftsmen and hundreds of volunteers spent three years restoring Elissa after it was towed from Greece to Galveston in 1979.
For nearly three decades now, Elissa has been recognized as one of the finest maritime preservation projects in the world.
Officially named “The Tall Ship of Texas” by the Texas Legislature, Elissa is not a replica but a survivor.
For several days each year, the graceful ship can be seen under full sail from Galveston’s beach front as a professional captain and a highly trained volunteer crew gives the 205-foot, three-masted ship a workout, at the same time affording sightseers a glimpse of what they would have seen along the Texas coast had they lived in the 19th century.
In addition to a description of Elissa’s use as a cigarette smuggling ship, highlights of Voss’s book include:
• The story of Elissa’s original owner, Henry Fowler Watt, who, on his last voyage as owner, accused the ship’s first mate of mutiny and shot him.
• Descriptions of Elissa’s trips around Cape Horn, at the Southern tip of South America (at least twice), widely considered to be the world’s most dangerous sailing journey.
• Explains how the Elissa still is kept in sailing condition, trips it has made to Corpus Christi, New York and other ports, and how the ship makes a series of day sails into the Gulf of Mexico offshore of Galveston each year.
“Galveston’s The Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas,” is published by Arcadia Publishing in partnership with Galveston Historical Foundation.
It is available online at galvestonhistory.
The 128-page softcover book, part of Arcadia’s Images of America Series, is $21.99.
All author royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the Galveston Historical Foundation and used for the Elissa’s continued preservation.
At A Glance
WHAT: Kurt D. Voss’ book signing of “Galveston’s the Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas”
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Texas Seaport Museum, 2200 Harborside, in Galveston
ON THE WEB: arcadiapublishing.com and galvestonhistory
About the Author
Kurt Voss has been associated with the Elissa since 1980, first as a volunteer foreman during the ship’s restoration and then as director of the Texas Seaport Museum from 1994 to 2007. One of his proudest accomplishments was helping to establish the Elissa volunteer program, considered by many to be one of the best in the country. His history with the vessel provided access to photographs from a number of collections, and many of the images have never been published. His sources include the Galveston Historical Foundation archives, descendants of the ship’s former owners and captains, and individuals associated with the ship from her restoration to the present.
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by Kurt D Voss
In 1883, then again three years later, the sailing vessel Elissa visited the port of Galveston, Texas. She carried bananas from Tampico, Mexico on that first trip. When her cargo was sold on the dock, Elissa was loaded with bales of cotton bound for Liverpool, England. The destinations after her 12-day Galveston stopover in September, 1886 were nearer as she headed for Pensacola, Florida and other Gulf ports. These two seemingly unimportant visits to Galveston's busy seaport set into motion events that would, almost 90 years later, save this sailing vessel from destruction.
Elissa was built as a three-masted, barque-rigged, steel-hulled vessel in 1877 by Aberdeen, Scotland's noted shipbuilder Alexander Hall and Company. She measured 205 feet in total length and 141 feet at the waterline. Her first owner, Henry Fowler Watt, had gone to sea as an apprentice at age 14 or 15, gaining his master's license at 28. He owned and operated five different sailing ships at various times during his lifetime.
Unfortunately, at the time Elissa was built, the beauty and graceful elegance of sail was rapidly being replaced by the speed and convenience of steam power. Still, the Elissa traveled the world's oceans, carrying the kinds of smaller cargoes that Watt could find for her. During an 1897 North Atlantic storm Elissa was heavily damaged and Watt was forced to sell her to pay her repair bills.
She was renamed the Fjeld ("mountain" in English) by her Norwegian purchasers who continued to sail her on the same type of voyages as she had under Watt. She made two more trips around the globe between 1897 and 1912, carrying whatever cargos could be secured between ports. Then in 1912 she was sold to a Swedish shipping company and renamed the Gustaf. Her rigging was reduced to simplify her handling, and in 1918 her first engine was installed. Passing through a succession of Swedish and Finnish owners over the next 40 years she continued to be modified and adapted, eventually becoming a motor vessel and losing her sails entirely. In 1959, she was sold to a Greek shipping firm and renamed the Christophoros.
By all rights, after being sold numerous times and eventually falling into the hands of Greek smugglers, what remained of the Elissa by 1970 should have destined her to be sold for scrap. By a stroke of luck however, she had been spotted by a marine archeologist who recognized the lines of a sailing vessel under the weathered, dilapidated visage of an old freighter.
Through a series of improbable events, largely based upon her two visits to Galveston more than 90 years earlier, the remains of the Elissa were purchased by the Galveston Historical Foundation, brought back to Galveston and restored. Today she is recognized as "one of the finest maritime preservation projects in the world." The millions of dollars required for her restoration came primarily from private and corporate donations with a cadre of volunteers doing the majority of the restoration work.
Elissa's story is told by Kurt Voss, the restoration project's volunteer foreman from 1980 on and subsequently the director of the Texas Seaport Museum from 1994 to 2007, in this book, Galveston's The Elissa: The Tall Ship of Texas. The 127 pages are a picture album, with a short introduction to each chapter followed by numerous period and modern-day black and white photographs. Each photo has a long caption explaining an important part of the Elissa's story. While researching for his book, Voss found material from descendents of the people who owned and sailed on the Elissa. The foreword was written by Marjorie Lyle, granddaughter of the ship's first owner Henry Fowler Watt.
Voss's book is an important visual record of the Elissa, but also of that period in history when sail was being surpassed by steam. Of equal importance, he has recorded the dedication and passion of a community to preserve its history and culture. Looking at photographs of the vessel when it was found in Greece, it seems impossible that anyone would ever have the vision that she could be restored. Yet, Elissa is today a working, sailing testament to the commitment of the people of Galveston, and Voss's book shows what is possible when a small group of determined and dedicated people work together to achieve what seems to be impossible.
Copyright 2010 Kevin Clemens (speedreaders.info)