- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Each morning, after a cup of coffee, Joe and Edna Grillo venture out to Pier 19.

The Galveston County Daily News (https://bit.ly/2fPhOim ) reports there, with other vessels of the Mosquito Fleet, is tied the shrimp boat Santa Maria - the object of the Grillos’ affection, dedication and hard work for many years.

“It was part of the family, that boat,” Joe Grillo said. “It still is.”

Soon, the Santa Maria will look a little different.

With heavy help from the Grillos and current owners, Galveston Historical Foundation, the Santa Maria is undergoing a slight makeover.

“The Grillos came to us and expressed interest and concern about the Santa Maria,” Galveston Historical Foundation Port Capt. Mark Scibinico said. “They felt like they would like to see it have more involvement in the Texas Seaport Museum. We suggested to them that if they had interest in that, we were willing to put together a volunteer labor force and were happy to work with them to work on the vessel.”

Plans for the Santa Maria include repairing woodwork that has aged and replacing the shrimp rig with a more historical frame.

“In the ‘80s, Joe put a modern shrimping rig on the vessel,” Scibinico said. “It’s really not the right shape and size for the vessel. So we are in the process of removing and selling the rig and crafting a more traditional look for her.”

Response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive.

Each Saturday, a group of anywhere from eight to 30 volunteers assembles at the Santa Maria to help with the restoration.

One consistent source of volunteers has been the Circle K organization at Texas A&M; University-Galveston.

“It’s important for history,” Linda Stevens, president of Circle K, said. “It’s important for marine history. I know a bunch of students have class on the Elissa. Adding onto that with the Santa Maria is pretty awesome.”

Basic repairs to the top should finished soon with a goal of moving the boat into dry dock.

“There we can paint the bottom and we’ve sold the modern shrimping rig to a shrimper on the island,” Scibinico said. “We’ll have that removed at that time.”

The historical foundation anticipates that the entire process will require little fundraising and will fall within its normal operational budget, Scibinico said.

The Grillos sold the Santa Maria to the foundation in June 2003, after owning it for 52 years.

The 38-foot boat was built in 1937 in a shipyard in Bixoli, Mississippi, and called the Miss Galveston.

The Grasso family owned her and Joe Grillo worked aboard the ship as a 19-year-old captain starting in 1949. In 1952, the Grillos purchased the boat from the Grassos and owned it until selling it in 2003.

“Our love is in that boat,” Edna Grillo said. “We go down and look at it every day.”

With its restoration and return to the rest of the Mosquito Fleet, the Grillos and the foundation are both hoping new generations will come to appreciate the boat as the Grillos did for so many years.

“The Santa Maria represents the shrimping history of Galveston, which is rich and active,” Scibinico said.

And so that history continues via the object of the Grillos’ love - the Santa Maria.


Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, https://www.galvnews.com

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