Sail Elissa: Texas Seaport Museum - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/8/2008-Lake Palestine

Sail Elissa: Texas Seaport Museum

It's a piece of history just four hours away. The official tall ship of Texas from the 19th century that still sails: Named "Elissa" One East Texas man has spent much of his free time the past few years helping restore and now crew the ship. KLTV 7 met up with the man who says this sailing sensation has been worth every second.

"One day I woke up and thought maybe i'll get a boat and learn how to sail," said Kevin Eli. 

Since that day Kevin from Palestine has had what he calls the sailing bug. In 2001 Kevin was in Galveston and saw Elissa for the first time. 

"I thought this is just like a continuation of what I had been doing. For some reason I had that bug in my vein to get into sailing and everything. And I saw this thing I thought this is just great. When I found she actually went out I thought here we go this is going to be the plan," said Kevin. 

In 2001 he started volunteering every Saturday he could make the 4 hour drive.

"It was originally launched in 1877 from Scotland," said Kevin. 

For years Elissa transported cargo all over the world, able to hold 430 tons, about 8 railroad cars full. 

"Throughout the years she went through different owners or what not and eventually wound up in the scrap yards in Greece," said Kevin.

Achaelogists found the ship and in 1975 she was sold to the Galveston Historical Foundation. After a long process of restoration and repair Elissa made her first voyage as a restored ship in 1982.

"To know that back during the restoration in the early 80's they were bringing in craftsman from everywhere to get this thing ready. You're hands running where other people had been there before. It's like leaving your mark on a ship," said Kevin. 

Just two weeks ago Kevin was able to set sail on an overnight voyage. He said just being on the ship in the open water is one of the greatest things.

"That is the greatest feeling. When the engine is off the sails are full of wind. She is like dancing. You can feel it as she is going along and its like your doing this great waltz with this big ship," said Kevin.

Kevin says 4 hours is not that far for a piece of history. He doesn't know why it can't sail another 130 years. 

"Trying to do the best job you can to keep it going and as long as the volunteers are the life blood of the vessel she is going to be sailing a lot longer," said Kevin. 

You too can volunteer like Kevin or go visit the Elissa in Galveston. Visit Elissa's homepage (http://www.tsm-elissa.org/)

Danielle Capper, Reporting. dcapper@kltv.com

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