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.

An Open Moment

As we approach the celebration of our Nation’s beginnings 244 years ago, we must consider where we are now. The statement below shared by Laura Pires-Hester, past Chairwoman of the Ernestina Commission and Julius Britto, President of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association reflects on Ernestina-Morrissey’s place in history, in the present and in the future.

An Open Moment

Most Americans today would agree that this is a momentous period for us—as individuals, as a country, and as a people.  We have seen too many senseless deaths of African Americans, especially African-American males, at the hands of police officers.  While several of these names are now well-known, we have also been reminded of the names of those less well-known or totally forgotten.  We have seen how this moment has brought to the forefront our country’s centuries-old “Black/White” challenges, and how the phrase and movement Black Lives Matter has crystallized those challenges.  Corporations, community organizations, educational institutions, sports associations, faith leaders and faith-based institutions and others have acknowledged the painful reality of this moment and the need for change, including within their own walls.  Some have also declared their own specific action commitments.  Different sectors of our society are not only demanding “what must be done” but also resolving “what we will do.”

What does Ernestina-Morrissey have to do with the age of Black Lives Matter?  What can this 1894 Gloucester Schooner now being reconstructed to resume active sailing tell us? 

Ernestina-Morrissey returned to the state of her birthplace as the extraordinary gift from newly-independent Republic of Cape Verde in 1982, in explicit acknowledgement of the centuries-old ties between the African country and the “people of the United States”.   Her return crew, composed of Black and White/Cape Verdean and U.S. Citizens both men and one woman and led by Cape Verdean Captain Marcus Nascimento Lopes, demonstrated and honored the diversity of her history and future.  Over the decades between her birth and repatriation, hundreds of people and organizations played significant roles in her history.  Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is alive today because Black People and White People listened to and learned about each other’s histories, hurts, and aspirations; challenged each other; acknowledged their similarities and differences; and collaborated with each other.

We believe that at this critical moment many are seeking opportunities for bridge-building, boundary-crossing, and more authentic listening to each other, especially toward the goal of building a more just society for all.  We believe that Ernestina-Morrissey’s return to sailing can help provide such opportunities, especially for young people of all ethnicities but also for people of all ages.  This conviction comes not from wishful thinking but from actual experience of utilizing Ernestina-Morrissey as educational platform, cultural ambassador, intercultural and interracial relations educator, youth developer, etc.  In the fast-changing environment of 2020 and beyond—with issues of social justice and local and global survival concerns at peak level—Ernestina-Morrissey’s powerful potentials are limitless.

This is a powerful “open moment” in our nation when people from all perspectives and histories are listening to, and hearing, other people and experiences perhaps for the first time.  There is much to be done and no one person or entity can do it alone.  But everyone and every entity can do a part.  We are excited about Ernestina-Morrissey’s sailing again, educating again, bringing people together again, telling her distinguished story again, and playing her part to help unite people of all colors around the world.




Buy a Mask, Support Ernestina-Morrissey

Polly Zajac, SEMA Director and an educator on the sailing Ernestina has been running a fundraiser for Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  She has been making facial masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.  Some have links to Ernestina, some have a nautical theme, there is a floral print, and there is a Houses of Hogwarts print.  100% of the sales will go directly to the ship! They are $6 for 1 and $10 for 2.  There is a postage charge of $1.50 for up to 4 masks.  If you’re in the NB area, she is  happy to get out of the house and drop them off to you!

There are several designs in the inventory and a link to the choices and the  ORDER FORM HERE.

Here are some samples:

There are several more designs in the inventory and a link to the choices and the ORDER FORM HERE.

Welcome! DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery

Jose Centeio, Chair of the Schooner Ernestina Commission, welcomed DCR’s newly-appointed Commissioner to the recent Commission meeting.

DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery and Ernestina Commissioner Jose Centeio

Commissioner Montgomery is committed to seeing the Ernestina-Morrissey project to completion and to a smooth transition to Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

From a February 5 release from the Baker-Polito

“Jim Montgomery, Commissioner, Department of Conservation and Recreation

Jim Montgomery has served as Interim Commissioner of DCR since September 2019.

He joined the Baker-Polito Administration in 2016 as Director of Administration & Finance for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Prior to that time, Montgomery served in the same capacity for the City of Boston’s Emergency Medical Services, and previously served as the Mayor of Taylorville, Illinois from 1997 to 2005.

Montgomery received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Millikin University, and a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.”

All Hands On Deck: A Call to Action

Massachusetts Residents!

All Hands on Deck, A Call To Action!
Contact (call, write a letter, email) your state representative TODAY to support this bill which enables Ernestina-Morrissey to sail again!
An Act to Preserve the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey ( Bill S.2328)
This bill has passed the Massachusetts Senate and and has the Governor’s support. It is currently before the House of Representatives.  The bill will transfer the vessel from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
The Academy will operate and maintain Ernestina-Morrissey and use her for training their cadets as well as providing educational programs, including sailing programs, to the public.
Please contact your Representative and let them know that you want this bill to be acted on NOW! so that work in the shipyard can resume and Ernestina-Morrissey can be sailing and serving the Commonwealth SOON !

Tell them you don’t understand why this project, that has already had nearly $4 million of PRIVATE money (raised by SEMA) invested in this Commonwealth asset and has more millions waiting to finish the project AS SOON AS THE BILL IS PASSED. Tell them they MUST act so that work in the shipyard can resume and Ernestina-Morrissey can be sailing and serving the Commonwealth SOON!

Phone calls are best. Here is the contact information you need.

You can find the contact information for your Representative here:

and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo


Commission Meeting March 6

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:

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