SCHOONER ERNESTINA COMMISSION HAILS ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY’S NEXT STEP
SCHOONER ERNESTINA COMMISSION
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Saturday, November 22, 2014
From: Laura Pires-Hester, Chairperson
The Schooner Ernestina Commission is pleased that the Restoration Contract between the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine has been finalized, signaling the start of another important milestone in Ernestina-Morrissey’s life journey. We are confident that Boothbay will accomplish this restoration with the same care, quality craftsmanship, and respectfulness exhibited in their restoration of the vessel’s bow in 2009. As a public body we pledge to stay abreast of their progress and maintain our part of the stewardship responsibility.
This journey is not over. Restoration is expected to take 2-3 years, and partnership agreements are being worked on regarding her post-restoration role. Current plans call for the restored Schooner to continue her educational role not only for training Cadets at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) but also for educational and sailing programs in and from New Bedford, her home port. Fund-and friend-raising will continue in partnership with Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. (SEMA), to support restoration and future programming. “Out of sight” will not be “out of mind.”
Ernestina-Morrissey last sailed in 2004, and the restoration decision comes after a long and thorough process. We want to acknowledge and thank other bidders and communities that participated in any way. Their participation reflects the broad and diverse interest that has kept her alive and working these 120 years, and we trust that this interest will continue. We especially thank DCR Commissioner Jack Murray for his steadfast leadership and all DCR staff for their diligence in this challenging process. The selfless donations of Mr. Gerry Lenfest of Philadelphia and Mr. Bob Hildreth of Boston are key catalysts in mobilizing private and public donations, and we are eternally grateful to them. Elected officials Representative Tony Cabral and Senator Mark Montigny must be thanked for their constant watchfulness and support since Ernestina’s repatriation in 1982, the extraordinary gift from the Republic of Cape Verde to “the people of the United States.” The City of New Bedford continues to be her beloved home port, with the wonderful support of Mayor Jon Mitchell and his municipal colleagues.
Throughout Ernestina-Morrissey’s 120 years, many thousands have walked her deck, visited her, sailed on her, worked on her, studied on her, revived memories and acquaintances on her, and even married on her. She has plied the fishing grounds of Gloucester and Newfoundland, the icy Arctic seas, the Cape Verdean inter-island waters, and the wide open Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She and her human partners have crossed boundaries of climate, geography, ethnicity, cultures, and aspirations, demonstrating always a limitless resilience of spirit. Her power as an educational platform on all levels is unsurpassed.
We give thanks for all who have loved and supported Ernestina-Morrissey, and we look forward to writing together her next story—a “whole new history.”