The Ellis family, Capt. Heath, Capt. Tom, Kay are the owners of the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon. You are sure to see most of them in the office and onboard. It’s definitely a family business. This link will take you to a gallery so that you can see pictures of all the Ellises.
Born in 1950 in Gloucester, MA, Tom Ellis graduated from St. Peter’s Boys High School in 1969 and Wentworth Institute of Technology with an associate degree in production engineering technology. From 1971 to 1985, he worked for the family construction business, Fred Ellis & Sons, Inc. The scope of the work included repairs and maintenance of existing homes, the construction of new and solar homes, as well as finish work on commercial office space. The company also bought, improved, and sold single and multi-family homes during this period.
The White Elephant Shop. In 1985, Tom bought the White Elephant Shop in Essex, MA with his friend and neighbor, Rick Grobe and worked hard to develop this retail antique business. A major fire gutted the building in 1991 and forced Tom back into the general contracting business. In less than three months, Tom had managed the reconstruction of the building from the ground up and The White Elephant Shop was back in operation. The business is consistently voted one of the best antique shops on the North Shore. Tom sold his interest in the White Elephant in January of 1997 to his partner so that he could focus his energies on the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon.
ERBA Sea Kayaking. In 1994, Tom and two friends started Essex River Basin Adventures (ERBA), a sea kayak outfitting company, which is also located in Essex. After three successful seasons of guided tours, lessons and sales, ERBA was said to be the largest sea kayak outfitter on the East Coast. Tom sold his interest in ERBA to his partner in 1997, though he still loves to go kayaking. Give Ozzie and Sandy at ERBA a call if you are thinking of going sea kayaking.
Personal. Tom is a member of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the Gloucester Schooner Festival Committee. In 1998, he passed the Coast Guard test for his Captain’s license. After serving for three years as a member of the Board of Directors at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, he recently served in the position of President of the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum for three years. He is passionate about the history of Essex shipbuilding and loves everything about it. (Ask him about the next vessel he wants to build). Capt. Tom has been married for almost thirty-eight years to Kay Ellis and is the father of two sons, Brian, 36, and Capt. Heath, 33. Tom and Kay live in West Gloucester and are lucky to spend winters skiing in Teton Valley, Wyoming.
Kay (Bonaventura) Ellis grew up in Beverly and graduated from Beverly High School and the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in Sociology. After spending ten years in the real estate industry and having two kids, Kay took a job as a housing inspector, then came on to manage Essex River Basin Adventures, the sea kayak outfitting company Tom and two friends started in 1994. Dealing with the nuts and bolts of running a kayak tour company prepared her for putting together the behind the scenes segment of starting a schooner sailing business. Kay focuses her attention on marketing, scheduling, and organizing the day-to-day operations of running the Lannon office. But sometimes you can also see Kay working as crew onboard the Lannon.
Kay currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Seaport Gloucester, Gloucester’s Destination Marketing Organization. She served for several years as a member of the City of Gloucester Tourism Commission. She was on the Board of Trustees of the Essex National Heritage Commission and the Board of Directors of the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. All of these organizations work to bring visitors to the North of Boston region and to promote the area’s rich history.
Kay and Tom are lucky to have spent the last several winters in Teton Valley, Wyoming, skiing at Grand Targhee. Ask Tom or Kay how many days they skied last winter. See if you recognize them in this cat skiing video, taken at Targhee in 2011.
In 2015, due to a health issue, Kay was not able to be in the office or onboard as she had in the past. Son Heath and Office Manager Kiley Davis immediately stepped up and kept the Lannon running as it always had. More changes (for the good) will be coming in 2016, so stay tuned.
Heath, 33, has stepped up to become the full-time Captain of the Lannon. After finishing two years at St. John’s Prep, Heath graduated from Gloucester High School in June of 2000. Heath attended Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine where he earned an Associate’s degree in Small Vessel Operations. In May, 2005 he graduated from New England Institute of Technology in Rhode Island, where he studied Marine Technology. There he received the Best in Tech award at graduation. Heath is the go-to guy for systems work (electrical, plumbing, technology, etc.) onboard. He knows the Lannon inside and out and probably has as much sea time on the Lannon as Tom does.
When we were building the Lannon, Heath took on an active role in the construction. As a high schooler, he was one of the low men on the totem pole, spending time doing whatever needed to be done: from helping get the trees off Hog Island, to oiling the wood of the schooner, to cleaning the bilge, to bunging the holes. Heath saw the entire construction process first-hand. In the winter of 2000, Heath worked alongside his father finishing off the Lannon below decks. We are really happy to say that Heath passed his Captain’s test in 2010. He is skippering the Lannon more and more as Tom eases into retirement.
In his spare time, Heath likes to ski, travel, and spend time with his friends. In the off-season, Heath works at the Beacon Marine Basin in East Gloucester. Heath married his longtime girlfriend, Evie Brown on the Lannon in the summer of 2008. Capt. Tom performed the ceremony and then we had a glorious sail to celebrate. Heath and Evie actually met on the Lannon in 1997 on one of our first “Teen Night” sails. Evie works as a graphic designer and is responsible for the redesign of this website. They recently bought their own home and live in West Gloucester.
Tom and Kay’s other son, Brian, is 36 and the computer whiz in the family. Brian can take credit for creating the letterhead, business cards, redesigning the brochure, creating our first website, and assisting in all facets of the marketing of the Lannon. When he’s not using the computer, Brian likes to ski, sail, swing dance, travel, read, cook, and spend time with his family and friends. As a teenager, Brian had a lot of fun racing Star boats out of Sandy Bay Yacht Club in Rockport during the summer. Brian graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers in May, 1998, where he was voted “most likely to be the first millionaire” by his classmates. He graduated summa cum laude in May, 2002 from Babson College, where he was a Presidential Scholar. At graduation, Brian received the Roger Babson award, the most prestigious award given by Babson College. It is given to the senior who has most excelled in scholarship, co-curricular activities, and leadership. Brian spent part of one summer in London, where he studied at the London School of Economics and interned at a London business. He spent his second semester Junior year in Australia, where he did some scuba diving, sailing, and (maybe) studying at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. After graduation, he spent two months in Berlin.
Brian is Director of Operations for Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), doing strategic planning for the Boston staff and working with students from BU, Wentworth, and other Boston colleges. In October, 2008 Brian married Malisa Canto in Seattle. Malisa grew up in Utah and like Brian, loves to ski. She is also on staff for Campus Crusade and was able to transfer to a position in Boston. She and Brian are now living in Arlington and truly enjoy their work with Boston area college students. They became parents in February, 2011, when their daughter Sydney Kathryn Ellis was born. And in October, 2013 their second daughter Eliza Grace Ellis was born. Both girls are destined to be sailors and skiers!
The four-legged member of the Ellis family is our chocolate lab Lucy. Lucy was born in October of 2006 and joined our family in early December of that year. Lucy can often be seen either snoozing in the office or greeting our guests onboard. She’s got quite the life!