Elissa sailing under the
Finnish flag 1929 - 1959
by Pehr Molander (1)
& Staffan Storteir (@)
When the National Historic Landmark tall ship, the three-masted
iron-hulled barque ELISSA, now also designated as one of Americas
Treasures, was trading the Baltic and North Seas as m/aux
GUSTAF of Sideby in command of Captain Harald Westerholm
Voyages and ports
ELISSA ex PIONEER ex ACHAEOS
ex CHRISTOPHOROS ex ELISSA ELIASSON ex GUSTAF ex
FJELD ex ELISSA had owners
United Kingdom 1877-1897 [ History
of ELISSA , Texas Seaport Museum]
Norway (1897-1912), A/S Fjeld (Bugge &
Olsen),Larvik. Renamed FJELD.
Still rigged as a barque. In South American trades. In command of
Captain H. Andersen.
Sweden (1912-1929), [ Sailing
Ships:"Elissa" (1877) ] Renamed GUSTAF
and for a short time ELISSA
ELIASSON. In winter 1913-14 re-rigged to a barkentine.
An oil-engine is installed in 1918.(2)
Åland Islands, Finland (1929-1942)
- 1929 October 31 Gustaf is sold to Erik Nylund,
Mariehamn, Åland, for SEK 23.000. Part-owner of the
company Rederi Gustaf Ab is also the wellknown shipowner Gustaf
Erikson from Mariehamn. During this period she gets a schooner
rig and is converted to a motorship with a new engine installed
in 1936. A new "Baltic" deckhouse and a bridge are built
on the quarterdeck and the bow is snubbed
- 1942 January 13 m/aux Gustaf is sold to Oy P.
Molander Ab, Björneborg Finland. She receives the
number 439 in the ship register of Björneborg. Between
1942 and 1944 trading the
- 1950 May 15 transferred to Oy
Thelmita AB, Sideby. m/aux Gustaf of Sideby is trading
the Baltic and North Seas with cargoes of mainly timber and pulpwood
on export. E.g. in 1950 she makes 10 voyages of which 4 to ports
- Voyages 1950 - 1955: London
In command of Captain Harald Westerholm
from Kaskö, Southern Ostrobothnia, Finland.
- 1955 Sold to Birger Asén, Helsingfors.
- 1956 Transferred to Rederi AB Gustaf (Hugo Boström),
Greece 1959-1970 [ History
of ELISSA , Texas Seaport Museum ] Renamed CHRISTOPHOROS
in 1959, ACHAEOS in
1967, PIONEER in 1969
USA 1970- [ History
of ELISSA , Texas Seaport Museum ]
Built in Aberdeen, Scotland
The iron-hulled barque Elissa was built by Alexander
Hall & Co., Aberdeen, Scotland in 1877 as Yard No: 294
for Henry F. Watt, Liverpool. Her dimensions in ft-in.were 149'6"
x 28'0" x 14'5" and tonnage 430 GRT. She was launched from the
shipyard in october 1877.
The brass builders' plate
Elissa under the Finnish flag
1929 September 25 sold to AB
John Millars Eftr. (Ernst Ludvig Ramberg), Göteborg, for SEK
October 31 sold to Erik Nylund, Mariehamn, Åland, for SEK
Bill of sale
Gustaf is mentioned in a telegram from AB P. Molander
Oy dated April 16, 1941. On January 13, 1942 sold to AB P. Molander
Oy, Björneborg, Finland for FIM 2 600 000. The bill of sale
is signed by Erik Nylund and Gustaf
Erikson from the shipping company Gustaf at Åland and
by E. Molander of P. Molander Oy.-Ab.(1)
Gustaf Erikson and his ships
Vasa, Finland July 1944
m/aux Gustaf at the Wärtsilä shipyard
in Vasa in July 1944.
Gustaf in Vasa, Finland July 1944. Photo owned by Pehr Molander
Oy Thelmita AB, Sideby
1950 Transferred to Oy Thelmita AB, Sideby. The
company is registered in the parish of Sideby and the vessel belongs
to the ship register of Kristinestad as number 66.
The company Thelmita which was established on July
15 1948 in Björneborg (Pori) was since May 15 1950 registered
in the parish of Sideby. M/aux Gustaf was at the same date
transferred to Oy Thelmita AB from
its sister company AB P. Molander Oy, Björneborg, Finland
for FIM 3.917.185. Five of the thirteen vessels owned by the M-Rederier
(M-Varustamot) from 1932 to 1960 were during 1950-1960 registered
by Thelmita in Sideby: m/aux Gustaf 1950-1955, m/aux Svenborg
1951-1955, s/s Thelma 1950-1960, s/s Motto 1951-1954,
s/s Olympia 1952-1960. The vessels belong to the ship register
The list of
owners contains three brothers Molander: Petter Molander, sea
captain, Elis Molander, sea captain and Bernhard Verner Molander,
teacher. The Molander family originates from the coastal parish
of Bergö in South Ostrobothnia, Finland and their members have
been seamen, sea pilots, lighthouse-masters (Bernhard Verner Molander
at the lighthouse of Yttergrund in
Sideby and his father Erik Wilhelm as a lighthouse-keeper at the
lighthouse of Säbbskär among others), sea captains and
shipowners. Elis Molander for instance in 1926-1927 sailed on the
4-m barque Fennia ex. Champigny
which on May 3 1927 was damaged off Cape Horn. The first vessel
of the M-Rederier, m/aux Thelma ex. Sonja bought in 1932,
had in 1945 to be delivered as war indemnity to the former Soviet
London, October 1951
Veteran Auxiliary in London
|"Did take a trip
to the Surrey Commercial Docks, London, to visit one of the oldest
vessels now trading the United Kingdom .. which brought a cargo of
birch, spruce and fir from Kotka to London." writes Dorothy
Laird in The Journal of Commerce and Shipping Telegraph October
She tells that captain Harald Westerholm is
very proud of his stout iron ship and her long career. To his great
sorrow and chagrin the original ship's bell, marked Elissa, had
been lost in Antwerp this spring.
"Her masts be cut down to lower masts
only, but she still had sail bent when I did visit her. With the
aid of jib, triangular fores' I and mains' I she can - and does
- add a knot or two to her speed when the wind be fair. On her way
to London on this occasion she did have three days sailing on a
fair wind in the Baltic. I did notice new palms among the ship´s
stores delivered on board, for a new jib were shortly to be cut
and sewn on board. In how many trading vessels nowadays does a sailmaker
ply his trade-on sails?"
from Dorothy Laird on 26th
October 1951 to Captain Harald Westerholm
new and ugly steamer bow replaces the former jib-boom, but
the lines of the counter be unchanged although a Baltic
deckhouse be built over the poop and - to give a clearer
view forward - a false poop built in which the old sailing
wheel, by which Gustaf is still steered, hath been half
sunk. The companionway below be still steep and twisting,
each step edged handsomely in brass. And the master's saloon
- as large and handsome as the master´s quarters of
a much bigger modern vessel - is much as it was originally.
Here be an overhead skylight
with small brass pans at each corner to catch drips, brightly
polished oil lamps in gimbals, panelled walls with a dog-teeth
design above in plaster, rich crimson plush settees - even
the "telltale compass" by which the master, when
below, could follow minutely the ship´s course and
check her steering. Through the saloons runs the ventilator
from the engine-room, which do give an illusion of a mast;
this be increased by the brass builders´plate,
which Captain Harald Westerholm, the present master, has
caused to be displayed there as it were half-hidden in its
at Surrey Commercial Docks, London 1951.
Victoria Dock, Hull, England
The Victoria Dock, which was opened in 1850, was
known to Finnish emigrants
as a transit
harbor on their voyage to North America.
At Victoria Dock, Hull in 1951
"The Finnish auxiliary schooner Gustaf
which is lying in Victoria Dock is a veteran of 74 years seagoing
service, and few ships at present in European waters can show
longer use than this 399-ton veteran."
Bragernes, Norway January
At Bragernes kai
In the port of Bragernes, Norway on January
10, 1952 with a cargo of 170 fathoms pulp wood from Kaskö,
Finland for Vestfossen Cellulose. Gustaf had 162 driving hours
on her way from Kaskö to Bragernes.
The first Molander-owned vessel, M/aux
Thelma ex Sonja, had Mäntyluoto in Pori (official Finnish
name form for Björneborg) as her home port between 1932 to
|Photo © Pehr
Dundee 1953, January 12
"The 332-ton auxiliary sailing vessel Gustaf
at Camperdown Dock, Dundee, with timber from Helsinki. She was
built at Aberdeen in 1877. She has had Norwegian, Swedish and
now Finnish owners."
Veteran of The Sea Visits Dundee (5)
"A cargo vessel from Finland, which
still relies on a brisk following wind to fill her mainsail
and aid her 100 h.p. Diesel engine, docked at Dundee yesterday.
She is Gustaf, one of the oldest ships afloat.The Gustaf was
built at Aberdeen in 1877. In her long history she had Norwegian,
Swedish and now Finnish owners. She has been under Finnish ownership
since 1929.The passage from Helsinki to Dundee took her nine
days and her mainsail was hosted most of the way.The crew of
ten, under Captain H. Westerholm, are proud of the iron veteran.
Chief mate Oiva Joutsenniemi thinks there´s plenty of
service in her yet.She is unloading 170 standards of timber
at Camperdown Dock."
Kalmar 1953 December 10
Gustaf docked at Kalmar on December 10, 1953 for
repair. She has a leak after grounding at the Tärnör
reef last week.
Elissa had at earlier occasions experienced some
- In 1923 she grounded at Saltholm in Öresund
- In 1927 she had to be grounded at Munkedal, Sweden
after colliding with some unknown underwater object and springing
a leak when returning from Fowley .
- On Oct 18, 1931 Gustaf collided with the steamer
GERANIA of Gävle off the lighthouse of Gisslan, Sweden (8).Gustaf
was apparently not considered responsible for the accident.
Arriving in Kalmar after springing
a leak at the Tärnör reef
Elissa had Kalmar as her home
port between 1912-1915. She was sold to a company in Kalmar
with the merchant Carl Johansson as the main owner in 1912.
He paid SEK 19 000 for Fjeld and renamed her Gustaf. During
the winter 1913-14 she was re-rigged to a barkentine. It is
not clear, however, if she ever was a pure barkentine. There
are statements that she had a gaff-sail in addition to the square-sails
on the foremast. Captains were Valle Nilsson and C. V. Eliasson.
According to sources of the Maritime Museum of Kalmar the second
captain C. V. Eliasson owned her for a very short period and
renamed her Elissa Eliasson. When sold to Stockholm in 1915
she however regained the name Gustaf.
|Elissa - as a three masted barque
when she was bought to Kalmar in 1912 - according to the
drawer John Sjöstrand from Kalmar. In Kalmar Elissa
was reduced to a barkentine rig.
1955 Sold to Birger Asén, Helsingfors,
1956 Sold to Rederi AB Gustaf (Hugo Boström),
Gustaf sold to Greece in 1959
December, Sold to A. Kavadas & D. Vassilatos, Piraievs, Greece and
Sold to M. Christidou, P. Konidaris et al., Piraieus, and renamed
Peter Throckmorton, a nautical archaeologist, recognizes her in
Piraeus, Greece, as an old square-rigger.
Karl Kortum, of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, is made aware
of her plight and begins efforts to save her.
ACHAEOS is renamed PIONEER; in March, Karl Kortum authorizes Peter
Throckmorton to act as the San Francisco Maritime Museum´s
agent in Greece to help acquire ELISSA.
Seized by Greek authorities.
1991 ELISSA is named a National Historic
2000 ELISSA is designated as one of Americas
Photo © Texas
Seaport Museum at Galveston, Texas. Used with permission of the
Elissa arrives in Galveston on July 20 1979
The ship is purchased in November by the San Francisco Maritime
Museum for $14,000 U.S.
Acquired by Canadian interests headed by David Groos in Victoria,
GALVESTON HISTORICAL FOUNDATION purchases her for the sum of $40,000
With the name ELISSA restored, she is to become a sailing ship once
again. A restoration team travels to Piraeus, Greece, to make her
With twenty-five percent of her original iron hull renewed [shell
and frames] and clipper bow restored, ELISSA is towed to Gibraltar
to spend the winter of 1978-79 at the Royal Navy Yard.
ELISSA is placed on the National Register of Historic Places; she
is the first object granted this status while outside the territorial
limits of the United States.
ELISSA finds her new home in Galveston on July 20. The official
welcoming ceremony is held on August 4. Intensive efforts begin
to restore her to her full glory.
On October 25, an orientation session is held to recruit volunteers
to serve as an adjunct to the ELISSA restoration. This was the beginning
of the volunteer corps which, since 1982, has crewed the vessel
and performed the lion´s share of her maintenance.
Restored in painstaking detail, ELISSA greets the public on July
4 as a living tall ship; she sails in the Gulf of Mexico and across
one hundred years.
In late August-early September, ELISSA embarks on her first daysails
in Galveston harbor.
GALVESTON HISTORICAL FOUNDATION receives the Texas Award for Historical
Preservation from the Texas Historical Commission, for distinguished
service in the field of historic preservation through restoration
of the barque ELISSA as a Tall Ship for Texas.
Molander, Pehr 1999 (priv. distr.) M-rederierna
-varustamot. 457 pages
- Pehr Molander is the son of Elis Molander
and sailed himself on the vessels belonging to the M-Rederier
in the 1950s. He is doing genealogy research about the Molander
- compiled by Lars Bruzelius
The Journal of Commerce and Shipping Telegraph October 18 1951.
Veteran Auxiliary in London
- written by Dorothy Laird. The article to
appear in SEA BREEZES as announced in the letter to Harald
Westerholm has not been found.
Drammens Tidene 11 januari 1952. Tremastet seilskip ved Bragernes
Evening Telegraph January 13 1953. Veteran of the Sea Visits Dundee.
Kalmar läns Tidning 10 december 1953. En gammal kalmarskutas
- written by Carl Axel Jakobsson
of ELISSA , Texas Seaport Museum at
letter from Erik Hag
Rev 3/10 2002 SS