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The Ellis family owns the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon, and can be seen onboard all summer long. You can see some of them in the gallery here, along with many other guests having fun.
Heath became the full-time Captain of the Lannon in 2015. He and his wife, Yvonne, purchased the business from his parents in 2016. 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. 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. Heath is a member of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, the North of Boston Chamber of Commerce, serves on the board of Discover Gloucester, and is on the Gloucester Schooner Festival Committee. After meeting on the Lannon in 1997 on one of our first “Teen Night” sails, Heath married his longtime girlfriend, Yvonne, on the Lannon in the summer of 2008. Captain Tom performed the ceremony and then we had a glorious sail to celebrate. They had their first child, a happy and healthy baby girl, Isabelle Kay Ellis, in early August of 2017. They got her out on the boat for a couple of sails before the end of that season, and she’s been out many times since! In his spare time, Heath likes to ski, travel, and spend time with his wife and daughter, family, and friends. In the off-season, Heath is the Yard Forman at the Beacon Marine Basin in East Gloucester.
Yvonne does mostly behind-the-scenes work for the Lannon, including graphic design and marketing. She is responsible for the redesign of this website, and the brochure. She graduated from Gloucester High School in 2001, and went on to work as an administrative assistant before going back to school to earn her degree in Graphic Design. She then went on to work as a Creative Director at a web/tech company in Salem, MA for several years. She is now a full-time Production Manager for a publishing company. In her spare time, she likes to travel, come sailing on the Lannon, and spend time with Heath and Izzy, family, and friends.
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 was married for almost thirty-eight years to Kay Ellis and is the father of two sons, Brian, and Captain Heath. Tom lives in West Gloucester. In the spring of 2015 when Kay became ill, Heath took over the operations of the boat with the help of Office Manager and Charter Coordinator Kiley Davis, and Tom took a leave of absence to care for and spend time with Kay. He is looking forward to getting out on the boat this year as a relief captain.
Building a schooner and building a business takes a great team and Tom had an incredible partner in his wife, Kay. “She was my soul partner and the love of my life,” says Tom. Together the two pursued their dream for the last 20 years. “Tom was the dreamer and Kay made it happen,” says Scott Memhard, the owner of Cape Pond Ice.
There was no job too big or too small. During the Lannon’s early days, Kay could be seen walking Main Street with a sandwich board sign, hoping to lure people down to the waterfront and onto the boat.
Kay wanted not just the success of the Schooner Lannon, but for people to fall in love with Gloucester and the sea. While Tom focused on the rich history of the fishing industry in Gloucester, Kay always reminded people to come for a sail because it was fun and relaxing. It was an adventure.
Kay served on the Board of Directors of Discover Gloucester, Gloucester’s Destination Marketing Organization, the City of Gloucester Tourism Commission, 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.
In 2015, Kay was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away on March 2, 2016.
Lennie Linquata, owner of the Gloucester House Restaurant said of Kay, “There’s only one thing that matters and that is if you’ve made life better for everybody else,” he said. “Kay made life better for a lot of people. She made life better for her family and her friends and for this community.”
Brian, is the computer whiz in the family. Brian can take credit for creating the letterhead, creating our first website, and has assisted in marketing 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. In October, 2013 their second daughter Eliza Grace Ellis was born. They also had a happy and healthy baby girl, in the summer of 2018, Genevieve Kay Ellis. The girls are destined to be sailors and skiers!