SCHOONER ERNESTINA-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.

Progress in the Shipyard – November 20, 2020

Thank you Bristol Marine for sharing the latest news of the great work your crew is accomplishing during the pre-launch fitting out of Ernestina-Morrissey!  In the attached series of photos you will see progress on the restoration of the Ernestina-Morrissey at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.  Currently, all work on the Ernestina-Morrissey at the Shipyard is being funded through the generosity of the Lenfest Family.

3D Design

This is a 3D model of the engine room on Ernestina-Morrissey. Our talented design team is working hard to define all interior spaces well ahead of later installations. This helps us be as efficient as possible when it comes time for engines, tanks, and plumbing to join the ship.

Foc’sle fit-out

For the past few weeks, our shipwrights have been busy in the Foc'sle building out the accommodation spaces. This area of the ship will include the Galley, 12 berths for the crew, a head, and a dining table.

Fuel Tanks

Our custom aluminum diesel fuel tanks have arrived. These tanks will each house 500 gallons of fuel storage to be used by the Main Engine and two generators. The tanks are built of high-quality aluminum for corrosion resistance and weight-saving purposes.


Kaz, one of our newest shipwrights is seen here in the final stages of a custom-fitted corner post that will be used to finish the Aft Cabin head project. This is a great example of the time and attention to detail that our team regularly devotes to all the projects on the Ernestina-Morrissey. This particular component has turned out beautifully and we look forward to seeing it installed and brightly varnished.

Main Cabin Projects

In the Main Cabin, where accommodation installations will begin soon, work is underway preparing for the final fit-out. Sam is seen here working on the interior "light-ceiling". This inner planking is installed to isolate the hull planking and frames from the interior spaces. Ventilation holes are included across the top edge to ensure that air can freely flow between the "ceiling" and the hull to help keep the wood from deteriorating over time. All of the vertical partitions that create bunks, cabinets, and lockers will be built directly to this surface in the coming weeks.


Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Advisory Board Appointed.

Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Advisory Board has been appointed and was sworn in on November 13, 2020 by Joe Maynard of the Governor’s Office via Zoom.

Newly appointed Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Advisory Board members Jose Centeio, Brian Rothschild, Tim Walker, Melissa DeValles and Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes are sworn in. Captain Elizabeth Simmons, Wendy Pearl, Dagny Ashley and Jonathan Carvalho serve ex-officio.


“to advise the academy on matters that relate to the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey”

Section 182A.  There shall be a Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey advisory board that shall consist of the following members: the commissioner of conservation and recreation or a designee; the president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy or a designee; the executive director of the office of travel and tourism or a designee; the secretary of education or a designee; and 5 members appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be a resident of the city of New Bedford, 1 of whom shall be a member of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. or its successor organization and 3 of whom shall have expertise relevant to the mission of the advisory board, expertise in Cape Verdean history as it relates to the Schooner-Ernestina-Morrissey or expertise in the history of the ship as the Effie M. Morrissey.

Dagny Ashley

Dagny Ashley - MOTT

Dagny Ashley is the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT)’s representative on the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Advisory Board.  She has served on the Schooner Ernestina Commission since 2015.  A graduate of Lesley University, her career in tourism & marketing began at the Southeastern Massachusetts Convention & Visitors Bureau, then at MOTT.  In 2013 she became the Director of Tourism & Marketing for the City of New Bedford where she implemented a new tourism department.  She is currently the City of Quincy’s Director of Tourism.

Jonathan Carvalho

Jonathan Carvalho is the Executive Office of Education (EOE)’s representative on the Advisory Board. A New Bedford resident, he is the Public Information Officer for the City of New Bedford, and previously worked as the Community and Public Affairs Manager for the New Bedford Public Schools, and as a news reporter at The Standard-Times. He has served as the Executive Office of Education designee on the Schooner Ernestina Commission since 2016, at the recommendation of the late Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Jose Couto Centeio

Jose Couto Centeio - appointed by Governor Baker

Jose Couto Centeio was born in Fogo, Cabo Verde Islands.  He came to Boston in 1971. He graduated from Tufts University and Boston College Law School.  He has been practicing law in Boston since 1989.  His practice areas are residential and commercial closings, landlord and tenant laws, and civil litigation in state and federal courts.  He visited Ernestina-Morrissey whenever the vessel came to Boston.  He joined Schooner Ernestina Commission (SEC) in 2017.  He was elected the Chair of SEC in 2018.  He was appointed to the new Advisory Board appointed by Governor Baker in 2020.

Melissa DeValles

Melissa DeValles - SEMA, right, with MMA cadets at an Ernestina work day in 2012

Melissa DeValles is the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association’s representative on the Advisory Board appointed by Governor Baker. She was a member of Ernestina’s crew before attending and while she was a cadet at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. She graduated as a Marine Engineer and has since worked in the energy industry for 17 years.  When she returned to the SouthCoast she joined the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association Board of Directors. She worked with Captain Thomas Bushy on the Academy’s first plans for stewardship of Ernestina-Morrissey. As SEMA’s designee, she was appointed to the Schooner Ernestina Commission in 2018.

Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes

Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes - appointed by Governor Baker

Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes was appointed by Governor Baker. She is the Curator of Social History at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  A fourth-generation Cape Verdean American, de Barros Gomes learned of the significance of the Ernestina Morrissey through her work at the museum and from members in the community.  She continues to work to document the history and culture of Cape Verdean Americans.  In 2019, she installed a collaborative exhibition with Museu da Pesca in Tarrafal, São Nicolau, Cabo Verde which highlighted the enduring ties between Cabo Verde and the United States.

Wendy Pearl

Wendy Pearl - DCR

Wendy Pearl is the Director of the Office of Cultural Resources at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and serves as DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery’s designee. Over her 25 year+ career with the agency, Wendy has managed numerous historic preservation projects and developed interpretive and educational content around cultural resources across the Commonwealth.  Since 2015, Wendy has been the DCR Project Manager for the rehabilitation of the schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.

Captain Elizabeth Simmons

Captain Elizabeth Simmons - MMA

Captain Elizabeth Simmons, LP.D is the Vice President of External Affairs encompassing both the Enrollment Management and Advancement departments at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. She is responsible for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of short- and long-range strategies, goals, and objectives for the Office of Enrollment while managing relationships with the Academy’s external stakeholders at the local, state, and federal level.

Dr. Brian Rothschild

Dr. Brian Rothschild - appointed by Governor Baker

Dr. Brian Rothschild was appointed by Governor Baker. He is a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Emeritus, founding Dean of SMAST, and a New Bedford resident. He has served on the Schooner Ernestina Commission since 2011.  Dr. Rothschild brings a focus on Marine Science and Technology as well as New England Fisheries to the Advisory Board.  This appointment strengthens the commitment to Ernestina-Morrissey‘s educational mission and to her fishing history

Dr. Timothy Walker

Dr. Timothy Walker - appointed by Governor Baker

Dr. Timothy Walker was appointed by Governor Baker. He is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he serves on the Executive Board of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, and as graduate faculty for the doctoral program in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies and Theory.  He has taught maritime history aboard numerous traditionally-rigged sailing vessels, including the schooners Ernestina-Morrissey and Lettie G. Howard, the brig Niagara, and the ship “H.M.S.” Rose. In 2018 Walker was appointed a Guest Investigator of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, drawing historic climate data from archived whaling logbooks, Portuguese colonial, and other maritime documentation.

Progress in the Shipyard – October 30, 2020

In the attached series of photos you will see progress on the restoration of the Ernestina-Morrissey at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.  Currently, all work on the Ernestina-Morrissey at the Shipyard is being funded through the generosity of the Lenfest Family.

Restored Edson Pumps

These pumps arrived on the Ernestina when it arrived at Boothbay Shipyard in 2014. Edson was particularly excited to have an opportunity to restore these vintage pumps to their original condition. They have been recently returned and installed in the same position they were for decades prior on Ernestina-Morrissey.

If you scroll down to the end of this 2015 post you will see these Edson pumps before they were removed for the work to be done. The  Edson Company is based in New Bedford, MA. It is wonderful to see the Ernestina-Morrissy now five years later almost ready for the next chapter in her amazing life!

Battery Boxes

This image shows our newly constructed battery box foundations. We will be laying fiberglass across the top platform to make the tray watertight according to USCG regulations. This foundation will secure one of the two 24v battery banks.


Forward Cabin Progress

The crew is excited to be fitting out the forward cabin. This space will be a busy area of the ship, where the galley and crew mess are set to be located. You can see the bunks and partitions being painted as we work our way aft through the space.

Just above the light to the left of the ladder is the hole for the foremast. You can just make out the mast partners between the deck beams that reinforce that area of the deck.


Aft Cabin Companionway

This shows the terrific final installation of companionway stairs in the aft cabin. The construction has now been beautifully finished with satin-polyurethane varnish. We cannot wait to see the remainder of this cabin finished to the same level of detail.


Progress in the Shipyard – October 22, 2020

In the attached series of photos you will see progress on the restoration of the Ernestina-Morrissey at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.  Currently, all work on the Ernestina-Morrissey at the Shipyard is being funded through the generosity of the Lenfest Family.

Aft Cabin Bunks

The Aft Cabin will serve as the Officers Quarters, and the construction of this space will be the most detailed in the ship. These beautifully crafted bunks are nearing completion. Notice the mahogany trimmed shelf in the back corner.

Companionway Construction

David Thorpe is seen here fitting tongue and groove paneling that will serve as the frame for a companionway ladder into the aft cabin from the deck. You can see the original steering wheel from 1894 in the background.

Fiberglass Tanks

Highly durable composite tanks will be installed in the aft cabin beneath the sole (floor). These tanks were built in place, as access into the aft cabin was not large enough to fit the large volume storage tanks. Just like the Ernestina-Morrissey herself, these will be durable and long-lasting.

Pipe Fitting

Tom Gearharrt can be seen cutting a pipe hanger in the engine room to make space for additional floor beams. All of the high-volume plumbing on the ship is high quality red-brass.



A New Captain for Ernestina-Morrissey

Massachusetts Maritime Academy has posted the listing for Captain of the USCG inspected Schooner Ernestina Morrissey. The person selected will join a group of great men and women, just a few represented below. Follow THIS LINK for more information about the Captain of the USCG inspected Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey position. The requirements will bring Ernestina-Morrissey a new Captain to follow the example of her past Captains and to sail her into the future!

Captain Clayton Morrissey (left)

Captain Bob Bartlett

Captain Henrique Mendes (left)

Cape Verdean Captain Marcos Lopes (left, at wheel) and US Captain Norman Gomes (right) on the repatriation voyage, 1982 with some crew

Captain Dan Moreland

Three former captains of ERNESTINA:Captain Alberto Lopes; owned and sailed vessel in 1960’s, Captain Daniel Moreland: finished vessel, achieved SSV-R status and National Landmark status, Captain Marcos Lopes; Delivered rebuilt vessel from CV to New England 1982 Mindelo, Sao Vincent, RCV 2009

Captain Gregg Swanzey

Captain Jeff Stone

Captain Amanda Madeira

Captain Willi Bank (left)

Captain Sophie Morse

And many more, from Effie M. Morrissey‘s fishing days to Ernestina‘s days back in Massachusetts after 1982 as an educator. We look forward seeing to many excellent applicants to fill their shoes!

Progress in the Shipyard – October 6, 2020

Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor provided us a deeper look into the day-to-day efforts being made in Boothbay Harbor onboard the Ernestina Morrissey.  Their team is working hard each day to make this ship the new standard-bearer for quality in the Tall Ship community. In the attached series of photos you will see progress on the restoration of the Ernestina-Morrissey at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.  Currently, all work on the Ernestina-Morrissey at the Shipyard is being funded through the generosity of the Lenfest Family.

Shipwright Dave Thorpe fitting out the Aft Cabin with one of four bunks designed to original specifications. This cabin will closely resemble the original layout as-built in 1894.

The Fish Hold cabin top receiving a thin layer of dynel and epoxy to seal and protect the wood for many years to come.

The Fish Hold cabin house being "dry-fitted" prior to final installation.

Lead Shipwright David Short showing off the newly refurbished Galley Hatch.

This bulkhead separates the forward cabin (Foc'sle) from the main cabin (Fish Hold). This was the final structural bulkhead to be installed.

Kevin, one of our talented painters, is working hard to strip years of paint and corroded metal from an original Ventilator. This piece is being meticulously restored to its original condition and will remain with the Ernestina Morrisey when she leaves us next summer.

One of our shipwrights carefully sands and shapes the new windlass. This piece was built to mimic the same windlass that arrived with the ship, and will be a functional replica of centuries-old technology.

This Project to rehabilitate Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, the official vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is being supported by a public/private partnership with funds from  the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The H.F. Lenfest Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Hildreth-Stewart Charitable Foundation, The Manton Foundation, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - Mary Morley Crapo Hyde Eccles Fund, the City of New Bedford’s Community Preservation Act Program,  the Carney Family Foundation, the Island Foundation, other grants and many individual contributions.

If you don’t already get our Newsletter you can sign up in the right-hand column HERE.

You can easily access all our past posts about the Ernestina-Morrissey rehabilitation project HERE.

If you would like to help just click the yellow DONATE button at the right.


2019 Annual Report

The cover of the 2019 Annual Report shows

Click the link and scroll down to read the full report.

what we are working for,

a sailing Ernestina-Morrissey in 2021.

For 2019 Annual Report click HERE and scroll down

Through our new partnership with MMA, SEMA continues our mission and we invite you to join us in this new chapter in the schooner’s remarkable story.

We value and welcome your continued generous support!

Stay tuned for more exciting news and check our Facebook Page and often!

Governor Baker signs An Act to preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey

On July 8th Governor Baker signed a bill creating a new chapter in the 1894 Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey’s life and story. The bill transfers her stewardship from the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA). The Act is the culmination of an initiative to fully rehabilitate this National Historic Landmark and Official Vessel of the Commonwealth that began in 2008.

The signing of this Bill is another seminal moment in the story and miraculous survival of this remarkable vessel. We are grateful to Massachusetts’ Senators Mark C. Montigny, Michael Rodrigues, and former Senator Viriato de Macedo as well as Representatives Antonio F.D. Cabral, Paul A. Schmid, and David T. Viera, among others, for their sponsorship of this legislation. SEMA is also grateful for John Bullard’s long and active advocacy of the vessel. As our colleague and past chairwoman of the Ernestina Commission Laura Pires-Hester and I recently wrote in our email, “We are excited about Ernestina-Morrissey sailing again, educating people again, bringing people together again, and doing her part in helping people of all colors unite around the world.  Now the vessel will once again be an educator, a portal into our maritime history, and an individual and collective pathway to the future. SEMA looks forward with excitement and enthusiasm to supporting MMA as it embarks on the latest chapter in this illustrious schooner’s story. “The Phoenix of the Seas” will sail again”

The vessel’s restoration is currently in Phase II which will install all the required systems, living quarters, her masts, and sails. SEMA will continue to be the conduit for donors’ funds to support this work which will result in a fully restored, Coast Guard licensed, operational vessel.

This Project to rehabilitate Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is supported by a public/private partnership with funds from  the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The H.F. Lenfest Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Hildreth-Stewart Charitable Foundation, The Manton Foundation, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - Mary Morley Crapo Hyde Eccles Fund, the City of New Bedford’s Community Preservation Act Program,  the Carney Family Foundation, the Island Foundation, other grants and hundreds of individual contributions. Collectively this wonderful support has resulted in being on the verge of a new chapter for this much-loved schooner, Ernestina-Morrissey.

38th Anniversary – Ernestina Arrives in New Bedford

The Repatriation Voyage of Ernestina ended in Newport, RI on August 24th where the vessel and crew could clear US Customs.  But Newport was not her final destination!  After dark on August 28 Ernestina entered her new homeport, New Bedford, Massachusetts.  We have no photos of this day. Perhaps one of you may know someone who was on that trip and perhaps photos could be shared.

The pilot for the trip from Newport to New Bedford, Captain Bruce B. Fisher  ( Northeast Marine Pilots, Ret. ) shared his memories of that trip with us.  (At the end you will see Massachusetts Maritime Academy has been part of Ernestina’s history since her return!)

25 August: While at Northeast Marine Pilot Office,, we received request from the group “Friends of Ernestina” regarding the transiting of Ernestina (onward piloting ) from Newport to New Bedford. I recommended maybe tow it to New Bedford (vessel had no engine). ….  that idea didn’t fly.                                                                                                                                                      We then suggested that maybe we sail the vessel over to New Bedford , get there ASAP and thereby avoid undue delay getting her over to New Bedford, provided we had proper wind, weather & visibility.  We would sail out of Newport and Narragansett Bay, across R.I. Sound, Buzzards Bay and inbound to New Bedford,  distance maybe 50/60 miles before it was over.

As a Captain and Master Mariner Unlimited Tonnage Ocean-going Vessels and Marine Pilot in these waters over thirty years, I am quite capable of handling seagoing vessels, including various Tall Ships both under sail & power, having handled most all of them over the years as pilot and certainly could sail a schooner such as Ernestina;

I’m also pilot for New Bedford Harbor (required, since  the vessel was still under foreign registry, also the approaches to New Bedford could prove rather tricky to strangers.)                                                                                                                                                  We would need a small tug for the undocking of the vessel from Fort Adams, as well as another to assist in through the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier and  to the dock once we arrived outside of New Bedford. —  Otherwise I would sail Ernestina to New Bedford…..So, it was agreed and that became the plan.

28 August 1982:   That morning the wind was favorable -  15 – 18 knts NWly;  Visibility 10+ miles. I boarded Ernestina that morning about 0900. The Tug Brenton came up and made up along the starboard quarter as before. I had a companion along with me, Capt. George Crowninshield, who I invited to accompany me in the trip over.   Otherwise, (Captain) Lopes and one, possibly two other of the Cape Verde crew were on board. None of the Americans nor the rest of The crew were to be found.   I asked Lopes “Where were the crew and how he  expected to sail without crew?”. — “They’re gone”, Says he with some hesitation, only Lopes and one guy aboard !     —- Plus me, Bruce Fisher ( Pilot ) and friend Geo. Crowninshield.  Well, I gave this some quick thought; the conditions were favourable; a schooner is generally not especially difficult to handle, although Ernestina seemed a little ungainly, but it was doable.  Could be a bit of a handful given much more of a breeze, but I expected it would shift SW’ly and drop-out  as the day wore on.                                                                                                                                                        A contingent of Cape Verde /New Bedford locals came aboard as riders – not crew- but to party- hardy as passengers. There would be plenty gleeful celebrating, singing, mandolin playing and wine passing round during the trip over as they brewed-up a stew and gathered around the cook house forward.

So, I said to Capt. Lopes, ” OK, we go” – He gave a grin, a clap of his hands & ..and …” OK,  we go.”

We got her underway, let go the mooring lines, (the tug) dragged the Ernestina (out of Fort Adams and) off Goat Island, (we) let go the tug Brenton. Then with a little help from a couple of the revelers, we heisted up the big Main S’l & Fore S’l,  topped the gaffs, then backed her around on her rudder and headed out past Fort Adams & Castle Hill. Put on the Stay S’l & Jib, sheeted-in and headed for New Bedford.               — ‘Haulin’ Lumber’, as the saying goes.      We essentially single handed Ernestina with no crew but for Lopes and one other all the way to New Bedford to a position off Brooklyn Rock near where the dredged  channel begins.   Being so short handed, she was rather a bear to handle,  ’jibe” in the fresh breeze and to “jack-ass’ around from one tack to the other.                                                                           Arriving sometime after dark some twelve hours later, and not about to attempt sailing Ernestina sans engine in through the Hurricane Barrier, we took the tug Flushing along side, then brought the vessel into New Bedford Harbor to the dock amid a large, gala reception.

Our job was done; We quietly departed Ernestina in the same quiet manner in which we had  come to the vessel;  no fanfare; no one really the wiser.


Captain Fisher contacted us when he read the account of that day.

( The fact of the matter is that indeed Sanchez Towing did not tow Ernestina from Newport to New Bedford on that day as purported; she was sailed over there by two Mass. Maritime Academy Grads,  one a U.S. Merchant Marine Captain/ First Class Pilot; the other a former U.S.Navy Captain ………..         ………  and it was all quite a ride.  )

So, that more or less accounts for the mystery how the Ernestina made the run from Newport over to New Bedford that day, 28 August 1982

Remembering Chet Brigham

Five years ago Chet Brigham published Phoenix of the Seas, a new up-to-date history of Ernestina-Morrissey. The book was very important as SEMA began the fundraising campaign to fund some of the work on Phase I. We have learned that at the age of 91, Chet passed away last fall.

He wrote five books on Gloucester maritime history and art, drawing heavily on archival materials in the Cape Ann Museum.

While working on Phoenix of the Seas he also drew from the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Collection at the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth. Phoenix of the Seas includes many photos from both of these archives.

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