Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Romance of Tall Ships

The Elissa

An item in the local news grabbed my attention today. According to the Galveston Historical Foundation the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, anchored in Galveston, is preparing to sail next spring. Following orientation on July 20th, the volunteer crew will have the rare opportunity to learn to sail and maintain this beautiful square-rigged sailing ship.

This is exciting enough by itself. I’ve seen the graceful old girl any number of times while tooling along Harborside Drive. She was even among the Tall Ships to sail into New York harbor as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976. But it also took me back to another Tall Ship experience. Way, way back.

Anyone here remember a movie called Windjammer? Probably not. First, it came out in 1958 before most of you were born. Second, it was the only film to be shot in the widescreen Cinemiracle process, which could only be shown at specially equipped cinemas. Such a theater existed in Detroit where I lived at the time, so I and my classmates were privileged to see it.  Given a seven-track stereophonic musical score by Morton Gould, its performance by the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler, and a deeply curved screen (100 by 40 feet) making it real enough to drown, it was a privilege indeed.

The Christian Radich
Windjammer is a documentary of the Norwegian school ship Christian Radich. With a crew of boys aged 11 to 13, it sets out from Oslo, crosses the Atlantic to the Caribbean, New York City, Portsmouth, and back home to Norway. Along the way they encounter Germany’s school ship, Pamir, and we are granted a glimpse into their program also.  

It’s no wonder our fascination with these magnificent vessels never dies. What could be more awesome than an enormous, ornately carved prow, towering masts, and billowing sails? From Roman trimarans to the Black Pearl, it never gets old.

Rigging the Elissa

No comments: