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.

A Milestone Reached, Thanks All Around!

The last plank for the rehabilitation of Ernestina-Morrissey was placed on October 25, 2018 at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Julius Britto and John Bullard celebrating a job well done!

Some of you have stopped by the shipyard to watch the progress and you know how truly amazing the work the shipwrights are doing to bring Ernestina-Morrissey back to sailing condition again. We try to give you an idea with the photos and information on this page, but you really need to stand there and watch to appreciate work that is being done. Ernestina-Morrissey will be, as Julius told the Commission this week, “a superior ship that the Commonwealth will be proud to have as the Official Vessel” Thank you to the talented crew at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor!

Thank you, Robert Mitchell! photo credit: Mitchell Photography CONNECTIONS Publishing inc. October 25, 2018

Before the installation, the last or “shutter” plank was inscribed with the names chosen by members of SEMA’s Whiskey Plank Club and others whose contributions combined to make a sailing future for Ernestina-Morrissey possible.

Thank you Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

Thank you to Governor Baker and Governor Patrick whose vision of the future is assuring that we have a “superior ship”.  Thank you to the governor-appointed Schooner Ernestina Commission, working with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to oversee the work and plan a future for Ernestina-Morrissey that will serve the citizens of Massachusetts and will honor the diverse constituencies that treasure the vessel, from descendants of Gloucester fishermen, Arctic explorers and scientists, Cape Verdean-Americans and thousands of people that sailed, learned and celebrated aboard Ernestina after she returned to Massachusetts in 1982.

Thank you to both Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest and Bob Hildreth who were instrumental in convincing the Commonwealth that there would be private financial support that together with public funds would provide sufficient resources to rehabilitate Ernestina-Morrissey and ensure that  she would sail again.  Thank you to the other “convincers” who were all the members of SEMA who continue to support the vessel with their donations and by communicating how and why they value her.

The names of the early captains whose decisions ensured that Ernestina-Morrissey will go down in history as the most important working vessel, even as she sails into her future!

It is inspiring to see the many names of the generations who have supported Ernestina-Morrissey, from the descendants of Gloucester fishermen and Arctic explorers, to generations of Cape Verdean-Americans and all the “crew” who have loved the vessel since 1982.  Above are inscriptions from the Education, Bartlett and Cape Verdean eras.  All the inscriptions, supported by donations from Whiskey Plank Club Members were mixed together like this one.  Effie M. Morrissey’s and Ernestina’s crews together!

John Bullard, who attended the ceremony, said “We celebrate this milestone in her journey to rebirth.  To come this far in her restoration is a testament to SEMA, the City of New Bedford, and the highest levels of state government working together with a common goal.  It is our shared anticipation of her future teaching the public about ocean science and maritime history that excites us most.”

Julius Britto was beaming as he said, “The craftsmanship and materials used in this revival of the Ernestina-Morrissey will make everyone associated with this project proud.  Those who participate in her future cultural, educational and sailing programs will receive a world class experience.”

Thank You, Whiskey Plank Club Sponsors!

Under cool, sunny skies the ceremonial, final “shutter” plank was laid into the hull of New Bedford’s very own historic, Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  The October 25th event marked a major milestone in the complete rebuild of the Schooner that has been ongoing since the Spring of 2015.

The crew gathered around the plank just prior to installation to document the event. This shows all the names inscribed on the plank's inside surface. Thank you, Robert Mitchell! photo credit: Mitchell Photography CONNECTIONS Publishing inc. October 25, 2018

It was an emotional event enjoyed by all, marked by the blessing of the plank with Gloucester rum, Canadian whiskey, Cape Verdean grogue and Buzzards Bay Sow & Pigs beer. The libations represented the vessel’s unique history as a Grand Banks fishing schooner, an Arctic explorer, a Cape Verdean trans-Atlantic packet, and most recently, a cultural and educational sail-training vessel and the Official Vessel of Massachusetts.

Gloucester’s #RyanandWood Folly Cove Rum, Canadian Whiskey, New Bedford’s #BiscaClub 's Cape Verdean Grogue and South Coast’s #BuzzardsBayBrew 's Sow and Pigs. Representing all the parts of Ernestina-Morrissey's history.

These sponsors provided the libations which made this event special:

Gloucester’s Ryan and Wood’s Distilleries for Folly Cove Rum,

SEMA members for Canadian Whiskey for the Arctic years,

New Bedford’s Bisca Tournament Club for Cape Verdean Grogues: St. Antao and Brava,

and South Coast’s Buzzards Bay Brewery for Sow and Pigs beer.

Representing all the parts of Ernestina-Morrissey‘s amazing history.




Ernestina-Morrissey is IMPORTANT!   Check it out! and Donate Here!

# Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, November 27, reminds everyone, in this season of shopping and gift giving, to remember the organizations that work to bring good to our world.

SEMA’s mission is to raise funds and support Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey. For #GivingTuesday we ask you to help SEMA see that Ernestina-Morrissey SAILS again!

Just click the yellow DONATE button!

Let’s see her sailing again SOON!

Photo Credit: Fred Leblanc

Shutter Plank In!

The shutter plank (the last strake-plank) has been pounded in, the Ernestina-Morrissey’s hull is fully planked!  A HUGE Thank You! to the Ernestina-Morrissey project crew at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Thanks to the Whiskey Plank Club for your support and to our sponsors for helping the crew celebrate this wonderful achievement.  Please support our sponsors: Gloucester’s Ryan and Wood Distillers, New Bedford’s Bisca Tournament Club, and South Coast’s Buzzards Bay Brewing .

Gloucester’s Ryan and Wood Folly Cove Rum, Canadian Whiskey, New Bedford’s Bisca Tournament Club 's Cape Verdean Grogue and South Coast’s Buzzards Bay Brewery 's Sow and Pigs. Representing all the parts of Ernestina-Morrissey's history.

SEMA’s Secretary Mary Anne McQuillan and President Julius Britto helping bring the shutter plank home

Julius Britto and John Bullard celebrating a job well done!

Thank you, Robert Mitchell! photo credit: Mitchell Photography CONNECTIONS Publishing inc. October 25, 2018

Stay tuned for more photos here next week.


The planks are being attached with silicon bronze screws and trunnels.  A trunnel (tree-nail) “is like a large dowel, pounded into a hole drilled through the pieces of wood to be fastened together, and set by pounding wedges into both ends, so that the treenail will not come out.”

Locust trunnels ready.

The trunels are coated with linseed oil for lubrication.

Ready to go!

Willy is measuring where the fastenings are in the frame and making notations on the plank below. When the next plank is clamped in position the crew can refer to the notes when they drill the holes for the fastenings.

You can see the notations on these planks that guide the crew's placement of the plank fastenings.

Drilling holes for fastenings

As the holes are drilled the ceiling clamps hold the plank tight to the frame and to the adjacent plank. The butt end of this plank is already fastened with silicon bronze screws. Notice as well the 5 inch garboard and 4 inch broad strake. The rest of the planking is 3 inch.

The trunnels on the left have been pounded in and need to be trimmed flush with the plank and wedged. Those on the right need to be fully set into the frame.

Once the plank is held tightly in place the last trunnels can be pounded in.

Almost set.

A wedge is driven into the locust trunnel to make it tighter. Notice the wedge is driven in at right angles to the grain of the plank to avoid splitting the plank.

This Project is being supported with funds from the City of New Bedford’s Community Preservation Act Program,

You can easily access all our posts about this project HERE.

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

Fairing and Caulking

These photos were taken in July, 2018.  Thank you, Bristol Marine!

From the stern, lower planks faired, oiled and the caulking is progressing. Photo Credit: Bristol Marine

Caulkers. Also notice the here at mid-ships, the 5 inch garboard and 4 inch broad strake. The rest of the planking is 3 inches. Photo Credit: Bristol Marine

Photo Credit: Bristol Marine

You can easily access all our posts about this project HERE.

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


Planking Progress Continues

During the Boothbay Harbor Windjammer days in June the crew presentated a demonstration of the planking process for the public. After you check out the video take a look at the photos below for further explanation.

The planking started in late winter as you can see in this post from late March.

The 3 inch thick oak plank is marked and cut. Here David Short, project manager,uses a spiling batten to mark the curve needed for this plank.

Once the plank is shaped and planed, shaping a caulking bevel is the last preperation before heading to the steam box. David Short, master shipwright, uses a planer to bring the bevel to the pencil line. The bevel will allow space for the oakum and cotton caulking.

The process creates a lot of wood chips!

Time in the steam box makes the plank hot and wet and easier to bend into place on the frame. The 3 inch thick planks are steamed for 3 hours, 1 hour per inch.

Here’s a video of the crew loading a plank into the steam box.  Meanwhile the frames are being prepared.

The seams between the futtocks of the double sawn frames are caulked where the watertight bulkheads will be positioned.

The ceiling clamp is positioned, ready to hold the plank in place.

Bedding for the plank is applied to the frames.

Preparing to hoist the plank from the steam box.

The plank has to be raised above the staging inside the shed.

Here’s a video of part of the hoisting process. The photos below are a different plank than shown above in order to show the sequence of the process.

The crew carries the hot plank into position. (note the gloves) This new plank will be mid-ships.

The new plank is clamped into place next to the the previously fastened plank of that strake. The trunnels have not been trimmed from that plank yet

Check this post for more information about trunnels.

This specialized tool is called a ceiling clamp. It can tightly clamp the plank to the frame and to the butt of the adjoining plank, until the trunnnels and other fastenings can attach the plank to the frame. Notice in the video at the beginning of this post, one of the crew is using the light from an Iphone to make sure the joint between the plank and the stem is tight.

Wedges are used to force the plank tight against the plank above.

The ceiling clamps were fabricated in the shipyard machine shop.

Shipwright, Ross Branch explained the process to the crowd at the Open House.

Here’s the link again if you would like to see the video again.

This photo taken by Laura Orleans on September 12 shows the progress since the shots shown above which were taken in late June.

View from the stem Photo credit: Laura Orleans

You can easily access all our posts about this project HERE.

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


Thank You, New Bedford

The City of New Bedford showed its commitment to Ernestina-Morrissey by authorizing $100,000 in Community Preservation funds recently.

New Bedford Harbor photo credit R. Morin

Soon the Ernestina will no longer be just a “dockside attraction”  but a SAILING ambassador for the Commonwealth and for her home port New Bedford!

The next time you see one of the Community Preservation Committee members or City Councillors thank them for their hard work and dedication!

and we LOVE your new logo!

H.F. Gerry Lenfest; philanthropist and longtime supporter of Ernestina-Morrissey dies at 88

We are very sad to pass along the news that H.F.”Gerry” Lenfest, a great benefactor of the Ernestina-Morrissey, passed away on August 5th. A naval officer, lawyer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Gerry at age 12 in 1942 was supposed to sail on the Effie M. Morrissey as a “Bartlett Boy”, but the war intervened and the vessel was transferred to government service.

Gerry never forgot his dream of sailing on the Morrissey and followed the schooner’s story through the years. In 2014 he donated $1.8 million dollars to the current $6.3 million-dollar rehabilitation underway in Maine, a significant catalyst to securing the additional private and state funds the project requires. He actively followed the project’s progress and he and his wife Marguerite visited the shipyard in 2016 and saw first-hand what their support was helping to accomplish.

We regret he will not be able to see and enjoy the beautiful strong renewed vessel be launched, but are pleased he was able to see how far Ernestina-Morrissey has come and know what a difference his support and leadership had made.

This short video by talented film maker Richardo Lopes chronicles his remarkable life and philanthropy.

Thank you, Gerry, and fair winds from SEMA and the schooner you loved.

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