SCHOONER ERNESTINA, Ex. Effie M.Morrissey, was built in 1894 at the James and Tarr Shipyard for the Gloucester fishing fleet. Under Captain Bob Bartlett she sailed to within 600 miles of the North Pole, and later brought immigrants to the U.S. under the power of sail. Returned to the US in 1982 as a gift from the newly independent Cape Verdean people, she sailed as an educator until 2005.

July at the Shipyard

The ship is starting to look like herself again.  It’s like watching a house frame going up.  It seems like you will be able to move in in a month, and then all the rest of the building begins.  It will be a couple more years to get her floating again but it will be WORTH IT!

The cant frames are in at the stern and the square frames which rest directly on the keel mid-ships are going up fast. A few floors, the horizontal pieces centered near the keel, are also in place.

Looking from the transom you can imagine the deck in place. These are not the deck beams but temporary bracing. You can see the rudder post with the passage for the rudder shaft and behind that the stern post.

David is working on the sternpost, the rudderpost, painted gray is to his right.

Looking from the deck of the forward section near the windlass aft to the new framing and bracing.

A full square frame has been fastened to the forward section. The crew is getting ready to start integrating the new work to what was done in 2008-2009.

The forward section (here looking toward the stem) below the waterline will be rehabilitated to receive the new keelson and be fastened to the new keel.

New futtocks for the forward section.

Thank You, Fred Sterner

Fred, Fall 2003, his last season as mate on Ernestina.

From Schooner Ernestina Commission Chairperson, Laura Pires-Hester.

“On behalf of the Schooner Ernestina Commission and all the lovers and supporters of Ernestina-Morrissey, I want to extend deep thanks and appreciation to Fred Sterner, who has served faithfully as a Commissioner since appointment by former Governor Deval Patrick in the fall of 2011.  Throughout his tenure on the Commission, Fred has brought not only his technical expertise but also his passion and thoughtful observations and assessments to bear on the Commission’s deliberations.  His maritime experience and skills have been invaluable as we have continued to seek the well-being of this historic and unique vessel, and to be good stewards of this amazing gift from the Republic of Cabo Verde.

Fred’s maritime experience is wide-ranging.  In addition to having a 200-ton near-coastal Masters License/sail endorsement, he also holds unlimited radar and fire-fighting certificates.  But his experience includes more than the requisite credentials.  He has done rigging work for the New Bedford Whaling Museum on the famous Lagoda and Tea Party Museum ships.  During the winters he has been Mate/Engineer of the Spirit of Massachusetts and the Harvey Gamage, and served as Engineer on the Corwith Cramer (in the Caribbean) and the Robert C. Seamans (in the Pacific) as part of Sea Education Association.  For a couple of winters, he worked full time on the Ernestina when she was at Fairhaven Marine for repair work.  His has been a consistent voice of advocacy and care for the Schooner’s proper stewardship, and ensuring her dynamic and purposeful life for generations to come.  It has been a pleasure to serve with him on the Commission, and I know that he will continue to do whatever he can for her future.”

Three new Commissioners will be introduced at the September 22 meeting.

June at the Shipyard

Work is progressing on the Ernestina-Morrissey. Here’s what the ship looked like at the end of June.

Here's the view from the forward section looking toward the new stern. There's a pattern for a futtock waiting to be used for reference. You can see the ladder to reach the deck from the fish-hold. This section already has renewed deck beams and a new deck.

The fore mast step. This would carry the mast that came up through the aft end of the galley table.

Looking forward toward the stem which was replaced in Cape Verde in the late 1970's and is still sound.

Here is the new keel under the forward section of the hull.

And now to the new stern framing.

In June the crew was finishing up the cant frames, working forward to the frames that rest on the new keel.

The new keel looking forward. The grey scarfed section is aft most of the lead ballast sections. The keel is beveled to receive the garboard. The right side shows the dead wood with the stern frames attached. At the upper left you can see into the forward section of the ship. Between is a temporary platform to support the construction process.

The wood keel under the dead wood.

The propeller shaft has been bored and the bearing is in place on the stern post. The vertical timber at the right is the rudder post. The space between the stern and rudder posts will accommodate the propeller. There are still a couple of frames to erect here.

Stern post with bearing.

The stern structure is in place now.  This photo from last year will help visualize how it all fits.

The beauty of ship timbers

Ready for the last two cant frames.

The first square frame to rest on the keel. Notice the stubs of the trunnels used to fasten the futtocks together.

The crew preparing one of the last cant frames to be lifted into place. It is so heavy with the live oak futtocks and floor that it has to be lifted in two sections, starboard side first.

The frame sections had to be lifted over the forward frame into the gap.  You can watch the process here.

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #1

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #2

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #3

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #4

Once the frame is in place it is fastened to the deadwood with silicon-bronze bolts.

With the port side frame in place the crew begins to fasten the frame to the deadwood.

Straps on the trunnel stubs hold the port and starboard sections in place.

Drilling pilot holes for silicon-bronze bolts

Getting the next frame ready

Notice the pattern on the frame for final adjustments.

Check more photos in our Flickr album.

New Stern Structure Coming Together

Ernestina-Morrissey‘s stern is getting all new framing as you know from previous posts .  The work is coming together beautifully as you can see.

credit H.Burnham

To give you a sense of scale of the project, the photo below is the cant frame forward of the stern-post that you see in the photo above. The frames aft of the stern post are fit into the ship’s structure with mortise and tenon.  This newly installed frame is not, it is bolted to a floor timber with silicon-bronze bolts.

Here's the after cant frame that will go just forward of the stern post. Fred gives it some scale. You can see it is already bolted together with the floor timber.

Silicon-bronze bolts

How do they keep the work symmetrical working with such heavy, unwieldy frames?   Old School!

A plumb bob to keep the work "square".

At the very aft of the stern structure the transom is taking shape too.

The framing of the new transom.

That is the rudderpost beyond the block and tackle.

Care is taken for every small but important detail, like limber holes.

The work platform has been moved to the ship and extended so that the larger frames can be assembled.

The larger frames forrard are being assembled close to their place in the ship's structure. This frame will be at the break in the deck, about mid-ships. credit H.Burnham

The forward part of the ship that was rehabilitated in 2008-2009. You can see the deck, deck beams and clamp are new but parts of the ship were reused.

Shipwrights at Work

The work on Ernestina-Morrissey‘s rehabilitation is just amazing and beautiful.  Much of the credit goes to the shipwrights who have the very best materials to work with.

A mortise is a hole or recess cut into a part, designed to receive a corresponding projection (a tenon) on another part so as to join or lock the parts together. Here you can see 5 mortises and the aftmost frame already in place.

One of the starboard frames ready to position, notice the tenon that will be inserted into the mortise.

The frames of Ernestina-Morrissey are double-sawn (two separate pieces of wood fastened together).  They are constructed of futtocks.  Each futtock is shaped according to patterns from the lofting of the plans.  Once the futtocks are shaped they are taken into the workshop for finishing.

The end of the futtock is trimmed and the tenon is marked.

The futtock is moved to the bandsaw where the tenon is cut. VIDEO and then to the planer where the surfaces are planed.  VIDEO

Planing the futtock

The futtocks are then moved to a special work surface to be joined into the frames.

The special work platform is level and notice the spaces to allow clamping.

A mixture of pine tar, turpentine and linseed oil is used to bed the futtock butts.

As the frames are assembled the planed surfaces of the futtocks are dressed with the same bedding as the butts.

The futtocks are joined into the double-sawn frame. They will be fastened with trunnels

More locust trunnels just arrived (1 1/8 inch diameter)

Futtocks of live oak and white oak are both used in one frame. The live oak is used in the area of the frame with the more extreme curve. Notice the butts of the trunnels protruding from the sides,

Once the frame is assembled it takes its place in Ernestina-Morrissey.

Watch this series of videos to see the process of raising the frame.  PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3

A temporary L bracket to pull the tenon into the mortise.

We’re sure you agree with us that this work is amazing and beautiful!

Amazing Oak!

Materials procurement has been one important facet of this first year’s work by Boothbay Harbor Shipyard and with the help of Harold Burnham, DCR’s owner’s representative on the project, they have stockpiled some amazing wood including Danish oak and Georgian live oak for Ernestina-Morrissey’s rehabilitation.

Danish oak : 3 inch thick for planking and 9 inch thick for framing, some 36 feet long

The story of the Danish oak involves England and the Napoleonic Wars.  After the neutral Danish fleet was confiscated by the British to keep it out of French hands, King Christian VII required that his lords plant thousands of oak trees on their lands to be raised for naval timbers.  They were pruned  and thinned until only the best were growing.  Meanwhile warship technology moved to iron and steel and by the time the timber was ready it wasn’t needed by the Navy.  It is now made available for special projects. And it was made available for the Ernestina-Morrissey due to her historical significance.

Danish oak, tall and straight

Danish oak of immense girth.

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The live oak was cut in Georgia at Cross Sawmill.   Harold and Eric went to visit Steve Cross to check his operation.  The grain and strength of the wood and the growth pattern of the trees make live oak the very best for shaping curved ship timbers.  It is very heavy and hard to work.  Green live oak is over 90 pounds per cubic foot.

The live oak is so fresh the resurrection ferns revive when it rains.

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Ross Branch developed a new technique to shape this hard to work wood.

Live oak slabs waiting to be shaped

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A Busy April in the Shipyard

The previous posts have described the process of cutting the futtocks.  Here you see the futtocks fastened together to form a frame.  The curves in the frames cannot be cut from a single piece of lumber so futtocks are sawn and fastened in pairs to form the frames.  For a ship like Ernestina-Morrissey with a beautifully curved hull the curves of the futtocks are very complex. Notice that for Ernestina-Morrissey the futtocks are being fastened together with trunnels and the butts of the futtocks are spaced well apart from each other.

This is a cant frame and there is a floor across the bottom of it that will be bolted to the forward face of the stern post. The floor is bolted to the after futtocks with 3/4 bronze bolts. photo credit: H. Burnham

The leftmost vertical structure in the photo below is the stern post that the cant frame will be attached to.

The stern structure is taking shape on Ernestina-Morrissey. The transom will be fitted to the end of the horn timber.

The stern post, rudder post and horn timber have been fastened to the keel.  A recent post showed all these parts being dry fit in the workshop.  Now they are part of the Ernestina-Morrissey.

Cutting Futtocks from Live Oak

Ross Branch, one of the shipwrights working on the Ernestina-Morrissey project at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard has developed an ingenious way (Patent Pending) to use a special chain saw to cut the live oak futtocks for the ship. Notice the guide attached to the chain saw blade.

A track is made from the patterns, incorporating the angles from the ship's plans for the chain saw to follow . photo credit Ross Craft Branch

A piece of live oak is chosen that can accommodate the curve of the futtock to be cut.  The wood is lifted onto saw horses and the pattern is traced onto the wood with the notes for the angle of the cut.  Wedges with the correct angle hold the track in place.  It is worth noting that live oak has a density of 90 pounds/cubic foot when it is green (63 pounds/cubic foot dry).  Fork lifts are used to move the timbers.

The cut is made following the angled track. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

You can see how closely the angled chain saw cut matched the pattern. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

Once the curve it doesn’t need much planing to smooth it off.  VIDEO

Two futtocks cut from the same piece of live oak. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

This technique uses less manpower and is less wasteful than using the ship saw with the heavy live oak. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

Futtocks and Frames Beginning to Take Shape

The framing of a ship the size of Ernestina-Morrissey cannot be cut from a single piece of wood so futtocks are cut and paired to form the frames as shown in this schematic.  Care is taken to make sure that where the butts of the individual futtocks meet there is a sufficient separation from the joint in the sister futtock in the same frame.

Futtocks and frames

The process starts at the lofting table and patterns are made for each futtock.

full size patterns made during the lofting process

Some of the pieces have very complex shapes especially in the bow and stern where the curve of the hull changes quickly over a short distance.

You can see how complex the shape of a single frame can be.

Live oak has been purchased from Georgia.  This wood makes good curved structures because of branching growth pattern and complex grain.  It is very hard and heavy and difficult to work with.

The curved branching pattern is best for cutting curved structural pieces.

Live oak stock and futtock

Ross explains to Fred the process using the chain saw to cut the futtocks.

Once the futtock is cut is is faired with a power planer

Lining Up the Keel

The pieces of keel have been rolled into place and the top is being fit into place.  The four 15,000 pound lead pieces will be jacked up to be joined with the wood along with the scarfed wood keel end timbers. Finally a worm shoe will be added along the length of the new keel.

The forward part of the keel has already been fitted to the forefoot. Some of the futtocks you can see here are African hardwood from the repairs done in Cape Verde.

Braces hold the keel in position as the keel is fit to the structure of the ship. You can see the grey painted lead section resting on supports ready to be jacked into place.

The keel is too long to be able to use one length of wood so the shipwrights need to join the timbers. David is putting the final touches on this scarf in the Danish oak. The rabbet in the top of the timber is shaped to meet the five inch garboard.

David and Ross working to bring the top keel timber up to alignment using a come-along. You can see the oak timber which is the aft section of the keel already in place ready to be jacked up. The forward end of this timber will be scarfed into the lead.

Here’s another look at the plans.

Plans for external ballast in keel.

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