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.

Looking Forward to a Fantastic 2020!

Looking forward to a 2020 when we will once again see fireworks bloom through Ernestina-Morrissey’s shrouds!

You still have time to make your 2019 tax-deductible donation to The Annual Appeal.

Just click the yellow Donate button on the right!


We have 3981 Facebook Followers. Share this post and ask your friends to follow the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association page. Let’s start 2020 with 4000 followers!



And the Final Installment!

We hope you have been enjoying the WoodenBoat series “A Schooner for the Ages — The six charmed lives of ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY ”  The final Part 3 is available now!  It tells the story of the current rehabilitation.  We are looking forward to her launch and for Ernestina-Morrissey to begin writing “the rest of the story”

If you don’t have a subscription to WoodenBoat, get one at your nearest newsstand or you can get a print or digital issue online from WoodenBoat. You can get back issues there too, including the Sept./Oct. issue with the first installment covering the Fishing/Arctic eras and the Nov./Dec. issue with the Cape Verdean and Education eras.


Dear Friends and Supporters,

SEMA’s excitement is palpable as we come to the end of a successful year of

The newly painted starboard quarter

progress toward the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey’s complete rehabilitation. Here are some significant highlights!

We are proud to announce that PHASE I, the entire hull rebuild, is COMPLETE thanks to the hard work of our

The new aft deck and stern rail with the refurbished original wheel.

partners at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor, ME.

In addition, Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) and DCR worked together in the planning process for PHASE II, the outfitting of the rig and below decks, which is also complete and ready for action!


The September passage of legislation by the Massachusetts State Senate, as supported by Senator Mark Montigny, to complete the restoration of the schooner was a major milestone for SEMA. The bill designates New Bedford as the vessel’s homeport in perpetuity, while MMA will assume control of the Ernestina-Morrissey to provide for its operations and maintenance.

We have one more step to go…the passage of Bill S.2328, “the Act to Preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey” by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. SEMA and others are waiting anxiously for its passage so PHASE II can begin! PLEASE VISIT NOW TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP BY CONTACTING THE MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE TO URGE THEM TO ACT AND GET THE BILL TO GOVERNOR BAKER’S DESK FOR HIS SIGNATURE! YOUR VOICE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

On September 12, SEMA had the great honor of receiving the “Don Turner Award” from the USS Constitution Museum. This notable award is given annually, “to a person or team of people, professional or amateur, who have contributed significantly to efforts to preserve important vessels or who have made significant contributions to our knowledge and understanding of ship design and construction.” SEMA is very proud to be in the company of previous recipients of this recognition.

On USS Constitution for Don Turner Award Ceremony: l-r Cmdr. Nathaniel R. Shick, Anne Rand, Paul George, r-Robert Hildreth, Mary Anne McQuillan, r-Matthew Stackpole, Julius Britto, Polly Zajac, John Bullard, Michael Gomes, Capt. Willi Bank, Derek Stevens

WoodenBoat magazine is currently chronicling the life of the Ernestina-Morrissey in a three-part   series entitled, “A Schooner for the Ages: The six charmed lives of Ernestina Morrissey”. Author Randal Peffer tells the tales of her story as fisherman, Arctic explorer, warrior, Cape Verdean packet, and educator.  The final installment will cover her current rehabilitation.   The articles include beautiful pictures and great coverage as you would expect from WoodenBoat magazine!

PLEASE SUPPORT SEMA TODAY! Your donation will help us accomplish our mission: that the Ernestina-Morrissey, a National Historic Landmark Vessel and the Official Vessel of Massachusetts, once again sails the waters of Massachusetts and beyond as a cultural and educational sail-training vessel. Just click the yellow DONATE button at at the top of the right hand column above.


Julius Britto, President of the Board

Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with the purpose of raising funds to provide for the maintenance, equipment, manning, programming and operation of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey as a sail training vessel, school ship, and educational enterprise

Let’s Celebrate Ernestina-Morrissey ‘s Future on Thanksgiving!

Ernestina-Morrissey needs YOU to give us all something wonderful to give Thanks for this year.

How?  Contact members of the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee and urge them to act on “The Act to Preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.”

It’s easy! Just follow the link above, click on their name and you will have their contact

Ernestina-Morrissey needs to SAIL again! Photo Credit: Fred Leblanc

information.  You can email, write a letter or call their office.   Let them know they need to pass the bill,  S.2328, An Act to preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey now.  Let them know the bill needs to be passed by the House and sent to Governor Baker before the Thanksgiving recess (November 20) so that the Commonwealth can have a great achievement to celebrate and give thanks for on November 28!

Then do the same to your own Representative and also Speaker DeLeo.  Let them know

Ernestina-Morrissey is important and the Shipyard is waiting for the legislation so they can get back to work again.

Let’s get this bill passed by Thanksgiving.

Then all of us who love Ernestina-Morrissey will have her future to give thanks for!

Links you will need:

Speaker DeLeo:

Ways & Means:

Find your Legislator:

The bill:  S.2328, An Act to preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey

NOV./DEC. WoodenBoat Features Cape Verdean/Education Eras of Ernestina-Morrissey

The second in a three part series of articles in WoodenBoat Magazine has been released.  A recounting of the years from 1948 to 2014, the article also features great photos!  Editor Matt Murphy also gives a great shout-out to the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Archives at the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections at UMass-Dartmouth.

If you don’t have a subscription to WoodenBoat get one at your nearest newsstand or you can get a print or digital issue online from WoodenBoat. You can get back issues there too, including the Sept./Oct. issue with the first installment covering the Fishing/Arctic eras.

Here’s Matt Murphy’s page:

Fair Winds, MarDee Xifaras

Margaret Dexter (Strahorn) Xifaras, a New Bedford lawyer, citizen activist and stalwart Democrat, died shortly after midnight on October 8, 2019 of metastatic breast cancer.”

Margaret D. Xifaras’s life story should inspire everyone. We would like to share how she was so very important to Ernestina-Morrissey.  MarDee was first introduced to Ernestina in 1983 by Governor Michael Dukakis when she was assigned to work as his Senior Advisor to the Schooner Ernestina Commission.  She worked with Julius Britto, chair of the Commission, on plans to return Ernestina to New Bedford. Her liaison work was invaluable as the Commission worked with the Massachusetts’ government agencies, as well as the Cape Verdean government and Representative Gerry Studds in the US Congress.  More recently she had helped SEMA and Commission with her liaison work with the Patrick administration.

MarDee oiling the spars

She also has rounded up work crews to volunteer on Ernestina during “Lend a Hand” Day with the National Park.

At the Honoring the Past, Supporting the Future Gala in 2017 all her work in support of the vessel was recognized with an award from the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association.

The Ernestina-Morrissey community mourns that MarDee will not be with us to see vessel return to New Bedford.


Read SouthCoastToday


Read the Boston Globe


You Can Help Today!

An Act to preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey

The bill S.2328, An Act to preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey has passed the Massachusetts Senate and is now in the House Committee on Ways and Means. You can follow the link to see if your representative is on the list. Please reach out to your Representative and ask them to act swiftly on this bill. The work to finish Ernestina-Morrissey will not resume until this bill has passed the House and is signed by Governor Baker.

It will help for the Committee members to know there are people in their district that love Ernestina-Morrissey. Just click their name and you will be brought to their profile page with their email, phone and mailing address.

Everyone should contact their own Massachusetts Representative, the bill will have to pass the entire House after it is approved by the Ways and Means Committee.  Please contact your rep and encourage any friends and relatives who are looking forward to a sailing Ernestina-Morrissey. Ask them to do the same. All the reps should hear from Supporters of Ernestina-Morrissey!

Here’s a link to the bill:

Here’s a link to find your Representative’s contact information:


A Perfect Evening in Charlestown

On Thursday. September 12, 2019, the USS Constitution Museum held their Salute to Maritime Heritage. The weather threatened and the schedule was shuffled but the skies cleared for a wonderful celebration on the USS Constitution!

After a convivial reception, remarks were presented to the gathering by Ian Toll, recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award and Julius Britto, President and Mary Anne McQuillan, Secretary. receiving the Don Turner on behalf of all the members, donors and supporters of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association.  “The Don Turner Award is made annually to a person or team of people, professional or amateur, who have contributed significantly to efforts to preserve important vessels or who have made significant contributions to our knowledge and understanding of ship design and construction.”

Ian is a writer and independent naval historian who wrote “Six Frigates”, a history of the beginnings of the US Navy and is now working on the final book “Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945″ of his trilogy about World War II in the Pacific. He discussed his writing process.

Mary Anne presented highlights of Ernestina-Morrissey’s history and photos chronicling the current Phase I work on the vessel.  Julius acknowledged all the individuals who have worked so hard to see  a sailing Ernestina-Morrissey.

Sandra Britto created a short video of highlights of the event.

The Commanding Officer of USS Constitution, Cmdr. Nathaniel R. Shick informed us that we needed to leave the Museum promptly at 18:40 in order to board the USS Constitution in time for Evening Colors at sunset.  We walked across the Navy Yard to the ship and boarded.  The ceremony of Evening Colors when the flag is lowered at precisely sunset is an important tradition.  We received a two minute warning and were advised the cannon would be fired at sunset.  Ian Toll received the honor of firing the cannon and SEMA’s Vice President, Bob Hildreth lowered the Stars and Stripes.

Ian Toll then received the  Samuel Eliot Morison Award and the Directors of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association  received the Don Turner Award from Anne Rand, President & Chief Executive Officer and Paul E. George, Chairman of the Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum.

SEMA thanks The Board of Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum for recognizing the importance of Ernestina-Morrissey to the Commonwealth and the Nation.

l-r Cmdr. Nathaniel R. Shick, Anne Rand, Paul George, r-Robert Hildreth, Mary Anne McQuillan, r-Matthew Stackpole, Julius Britto, Polly Zajac, John Bullard, Michael Gomes, Capt. Willi Bank, Derek Stevens

It was a perfect evening in Charlestown!

Be sure to click on the embedded hyperlinks in the text to see the videos and more information!

An Important Step Toward Ernestina-Morrissey’s Future

We applaud the hard work of Senator Mark Montigny along with Senator Vitiato deMacedo, Senator Michael Rodrigues and Senator Marc Pacheco.  This vote in the Senate brings us closer to a SAILING Ernestina-Morrissey!  “The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.” Thank you, Senator Montigny!



Press Release

September 5, 2019

Senate Approves Montigny Ernestina Legislation

Senator’s bill is key to finalizing vessel’s restoration and long-term maintenance

BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts State Senate engrossed Senator Mark Montigny’s legislation to complete the long-anticipated restoration of the historic Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  The Senate Committee on Ways and Means reported the bill favorably in the morning followed by unanimous approval by the full Senate later the same day.  The legislation will permit the Commonwealth to receive significant funding form private philanthropy, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in renovation costs.  The bill also seeks to honor the strong ties between the historic vessel and local Cape Verdean community.

Senator Montigny has long supported the vessel’s restoration in collaboration with the local delegation.  Since 2015, the vessel has been undergoing a complete restoration at Boothbay Harbor, Maine thanks to a combination of legislative earmarks and generous donations from Philanthropists Robert Hildreth and the late H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, totaling approximately $2.8 million.  The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association (SEMA) also pledged $1 million.

Montigny began drafting S2287 earlier this year with input from the Academy, DCR, and other interested stakeholders.  He also ensured that the bill designates New Bedford as the vessel’s home port in perpetuity and requires significant access for New Bedford school children at no cost.  The Ernestina-Morrissey will also be made available in New Bedford for major cultural events such as the annual Cape Verdean Recognition Week.

“For decades, the people of New Bedford cared for and maintained the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey,” said Senator Montigny, who has long-supported capital and operating needs for the Ernestina-Morrissey during his Senate career.  “This meant we had to forgo public funding for other worthy projects in order to ensure we had the funding necessary to keep the Ernestina at sea.  After many years and countless, dedicated volunteers, we are now poised to complete a fully restored vessel accompanied by a thoughtful long-term maintenance and operations plan.  I am thankful for the Senate’s approval today and look forward to swift action in the House.”

With Phase I of the restoration project nearly complete, long-term plans to ensure the vessel’s operations and maintenance are now underway.  The Massachusetts Maritime Academy will assume control of the Commonwealth’s official vessel to provide for its operations and maintenance while still maintaining the vessel’s local connection with New Bedford.  The Academy, with the assistance of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, will ensure the Ernestina-Morrissey is docked in New Bedford at no cost for residents, school children, and tourists when not in use for training or official voyages.

These plans, however, are dependent upon legislation to formally transfer the vessel to the Academy and state appropriations to ensure the annual operations and maintenance needs are funded.  In May, Montigny worked with Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues and Senator Viriato deMacedo to secure $500,000 in the FY20 Senate Budget.  This funding has been secured in the final budget.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Viriato deMacedo (R-Plymouth), Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford), Representative Christopher Hendricks (D-New Bedford), and Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth).  Former New Bedford Mayor John Bullard has also played a key role in facilitating the connection between the private donors and the Commonwealth.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

SEMA Selected for Don Turner Award

The Board of Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum has selected Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association to receive the 2019 Don Turner Award.  This award recognizes a person or team of people who have contributed significantly to efforts to preserve important vessels. We will proudly accept this award on behalf of all SEMA members, donors and supporters who have helped us give voice to our conviction that in order to honor her past and serve the Commonwealth in the future, Ernestina-Morrissey must be SAILING!

off Isles of Shoals - photo credit: Susan Bank

From Award letter:

“The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association has demonstrated its dedication to preserve, protect, and restore this ship.  While pursuing the fundraising needed for the restoration, the Association continued to contribute to public education about the ship’s history, documentation about her restoration, volunteer maintenance, and consistent advocacy for her rich archives of historic records and objects.”

We are all honored to be in the company of the amazing people and organizations that have received past Don Turner Awards!  And we thank The Board of Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum for recognizing the importance of Ernestina-Morrissey to the Commonwealth and the Nation.

Tickets are available for anyone who wishes to attend the ceremony on the USS Constitution on September 12.

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