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.

Progress in Boothbay

First, a great big THANK YOU! to the crew that safely brought the ship safely to Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

Captain Charlie Mitchell and his crew on the Jaguar had great conditions for the voyage. photo: Harold Burnham

And here’s the crew that was aboard the Ernestina-Morrissey to make sure she was safe for the transit.

Harold Burnham; Josh Navone; Eric Graves; Capt. Dave Thompson; Larry Colcord

The ship has been in the yard for 7 weeks and much planning work is being done but there has been some visible progress as well.  As you can see, the masts have been removed and the anchors are off.  Harold Burnham showed Matthew the plans last week.  Check back for more photos in a few days.

Matthew Stackpole & Harold Burnham

Book launch at Cape Ann Museum

Phoenix of the Seas, by Chester Brigham

The three-ocean, three-centuries saga of the Gloucester schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, State Ship of Massachusetts

Please join us at the Cape Ann Museum, Saturday June 13 at 3:00 with a presentation by the author

The Ernestina-Morrissey’s story is one of wide-ranging maritime adventures, lived by a remarkable cast of captains, crews and voyagers. Sailing to the Grand Banks from Gloucester for cod in the 1890s … voyaging to the Arctic every year for almost two decades on scientific expeditions … serving under both the U.S. Army and Navy in the Arctic during World War II … crossing the Atlantic a dozen times as a packet ship, linking Cape Verdean-Americans in New England with family members on their home islands … back in America under sail out of New Bedford, educating boatloads of school children on the wonders of their ocean environment.

In Phoenix of the Seas, Chester Brigham writes of the indomitable spirit of the Ernestina-Morrissey. Of the men and women who have commanded her: Gloucester fishing captains Bill and Clayton Morrissey, Arctic navigator Bob Bartlett, Henrique Mendes on Cape Verde, round-the-world captain Dan Moreland. Of the lives the vessel has touched: dory-trawling fishermen on the Grand Banks, hardy field scientists, Inuit hunters, GIs at remote weather stations, Atlantic islanders, volunteers who have sacrificed much for love of the ship.

She has been written off as doomed time and again. But now, this Phoenix ship will rise from the ashes once again! Thanks to a combination of private and state funding, the Ernestina-Morrissey is to be completely restored – after which, based at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, she will set sail in her next, yet-to-be-decided incarnation.

Gloucester author Chester Brigham has written three other books on Gloucester’s maritime history: On Opposite Tacks (2011), Gloucester’s Bargain with the Sea (2007) and The Stream I Go A-Fishing In (2003). Phoenix of the Seas. Whale’s Jaw Publishing. Hardcover. 296 pages. 42 illustrations. ISBN 978-0-9740778-4-0

Where in the World has Ernestina-Morrissey been?

The Seamen’s Bethel and the Schooner Ernestina Commission

present Latitudes and Longitudes of Ernestina-Morrissey.  Plotting then Singing!

June 11  AHA!  Seamen’s Bethel, New Bedford, MA

6 PM –For kids and kids at heart:  Where in the World has Ernestina-Morrissey been? Where is she now?  Plot the ship’s latitude and longitude for her furthest North, South, East and West voyages.  Find out just how far North, South,  East and West the ship has been and you will be amazed!  And hear about what’s going on since she left New Bedford April 12.

6:30-7:30 – The New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus will bring you along on a voyage across the oceans of the world.  Come and be transported North, South, East and West.

1982 Using Sextant on the repatriation voyage from "Bringing E Home"

1931 Bartlett taking sight from stern, Norcross voyage 1

Navigating Ernestina-Morrissey

Ernestina-Morrissey on the Railway

The Ernestina-Morrissey is on the cradle at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. The tall ship will remain there for the next several years as it undergoes a $6 million restoration project. BEN BULKELEY/Boothbay Register

The Boothbay Register published a great time-lapse of the haul-out process.  Now the repairs can begin!  Capt. Harold Burnham, DCR’s representative during this reconstruction,  will be at the shipyard later this week.  We plan to have frequent updates on the progress of the work.  Like our Facebook page for the latest news.

Ernestina-Morrissey Safe in Boothbay

Ernestina-Morrissey is next in line to be brought up the railway. She will be there for 2-3 years while the work progresses. photo by David Stickney

After a 24 hour trip under tow from New Bedford, Ernestina-Morrissey has arrived at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, her berth for the next few years while she undergoes reconstruction to ready her for her fifth life.  More photos will be posted soon, meanwhile, enjoy these reports.


YouTube video of departure by Mike Estabrook

Boothbay Register Monday April 13

Boothbay Register November 21, 2014

Portland Press Herald

SEMA Facebook page

Mystic Seaport Maritime History

Ernestina-Morrissey Headed for Maine Sunday April 12

Finally, the news we have been waiting since December for!  The Ernestina-Morrissey will start her voyage from New Bedford State Pier to Boothbay Harbor approximately 8:00 am Sunday, April 12.

Viewing from the pier will be limited because of the reconstruction of Coast Guard Park. Other viewing areas include East Rodney French Blvd, the Hurricane Barrier, Fort Phoenix and Fort Taber.  And along the bike path at the Cape Cod Canal.

You can follow the voyage by checking on Tug Jaguar ‘s position on-line Marine

Under tow by Jaguar to Fairhaven Shipyard in 2008


The ship will be passing Massachusetts Maritime Academy about 10:30 am as she begins the passage through the Cape Cod Canal.  The current will be running fast around noon and she will transit to the east end (Scusset Beach) quickly.  I will be posting on SEMA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed @ErnstinaMorrisy if you want to check for more specific times tomorrow or you can check Tug Jaguar’s position. Then it will be across the Gulf of Maine to Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.

The trip should take about 30 hours so Ernestina-Morrissey should arrive at the shipyard about mid-day Monday April 13.

Great Work, DCR!

Since the last post 3 weeks ago the SouthCoast has experienced storm after storm along with bitter cold.

Fresh snow has settled on the ice around Ernestina-Morrissey

The winter cover was not installed this year because we all anticipated a break in the weather to allow the ship to be moved to Boothbay Harbor Shipyard by now.   With no winter cover, Supervisor Paul Alexio and all the DCR staff helping him have done an amazing job to keep Ernestina-Morrissey safe.

Tons of snow has been removed from the ship in the past three weeks.

Checking lines, removing snow and ventilating and inspecting below deck have been a priority for the Department.

Ice surrounds Ernestina-Morrissey, not close to the ice she has seen when she sailed the Arctic with Captain Bartlett.

Salt has been added to the bilges to treat any fresh water that may accumulate.   Let’s all hope that March will bring us the weather we need to get the ship to Maine and her future.

There is open water not far astern of the ship.

Ship Safe After Blizzard

DCR staff were assigned to watch over Ernestina-Morrissey during the recent blizzard.  Today Paul and David are busy clearing snow from the deck.  The winter cover is not in place anticipating the trip to the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, but the weather has not cooperated to allow a safe passage for the ship since mid-December.  Hopefully the weather pattern will change soon and the ship can be brought to the shipyard and work on her rehabilitation can commence.

The snow was drifted all the way from the floating dock to the top of State Pier

The first task for Paul and David was to shovel a path along the floating dock, before they could start clearing the deck.

There is a lot of snow to be removed before it settles and solidifies. The deck has to be clear to safely move the ship to Maine. Thank you, Paul and David! And thank you DCR for making Ernestina-Morrissey a priority!


Patrick Administration Announces Funding for Rehabilitation of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey

NEW BEDFORD—December 18, 2014— The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) today announced funding to restore the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts official sailing vessel. The SchoonerErnestina-Morrissey is currently berthed in New Bedford at the State Pier. The Ernestina-Morrissey was launched in February 1894 at the James & Tarr  Shipyard in Essex, MA under the name Effie M. Morrissey. The vessel was owned by the John F. Wonson, Co. of Gloucester, MA and Captain William Morrissey, who named the boat after his daughter. The Effie M. Morrissey was later purchased in 1926 by Captain Robert A. Bartlett, a Canadian-born Arctic explorer. As an Arctic explorer, Bartlett focused on pursuing several expeditions and in 1940 the “Little Morrissey” (as he frequently referred to the vessel) reached within 600 miles of the North Pole. In 1948, the ship, which had been damaged by fire, was purchased and restored by Captain Henrique Mendes and used as a Cape Verde packet. Renamed Ernestina, the schooner regularly sailed between the Cape Verde Islands and the United States, and was the last sailing ship, in regular service, to carry immigrants across the Atlantic to the United States. The Ernestina was donated as a gift to the United States by the newly independent West African Republic of Cape Verde in 1975 and the ship was restored and returned to her land of construction in 1982, where additional restoration took place. The Ernestina was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990 and enjoyed its fourth career, as an educational vessel. “The restoration of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is a great

The ship's name has been officially changed to Ernestina-Morrissey and new quarterboards have been installed.

example of the dedication and commitment the Patrick Administration has to preserving the Commonwealth’s historical ship,” said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Maeve Valley Bartlett. “The vessel will serve as a historical landmark reminding us of the cultural opportunities the ship brings to the Commonwealth.”

The restoration project is made possible through the funding from DCR’s capital budget,

Commissioner Jack Murray presents replicas of the new quarterboard fashioned from the ships old foremast to Bob Hildreth (l) and Julius Britto and Mary Anne McQuillan (SEMA) while Schooner Ernestina Commission Chair Laura Pires-Hester presents to Andy Tiska representing Gerry Lenfest.

as well as private and nonprofit contributions. Philanthropists H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest of

Philadelphia and Robert Hildreth of Boston advocated for the restoration and rehabilitation of the ship for many years and together are contributing $2.8 million toward the restoration of the vessel. In addition, SEMA (Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association) is providing $1 million (HELP US BY DONATING TODAY!) and the Patrick Administration is investing $2.5 million to preserve the vessel for future generations and to ensure that the ship will once again become seaworthy.

“We’re thrilled that Governor Patrick allocated the funds to set these repairs in motion,” said DCR Commissioner Jack Murray. “This work could not happen without the very generous and philanthropic gifts of our benefactors; Mr. Gerry Lenfest, Mr. Robert J. Hildreth and SEMA. We look forward to seeing the Ernestina-Morrissey seaworthy and sailing from New Bedford Harbor once again.” Over the past several years, DCR has been involved in a structural assessment of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey in an effort to identify what repairs are essential for the ship. That study yielded several

Harold A. Burnham, Master Shipwright from Essex, MA, 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellow, developed the plans for DCR.

recommendations that the agency will undertake including:

  • Redesign of the keel to lower the ballast’s center of gravity
  • Rearranging the water tight bulkheads to meet current standards
  • Replacing clamps and hanging knees
  • Restoration of lines and profile where needed

In planning for the Ernestina-Morrissey’s future role and use following completion of the rehabilitation project, DCR has been in discussions with officials at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) to develop a plan for its use during parts of the year as a training vessel. As a part of these plans, the Ernestina-Morrissey would also maintain its home berth in New Bedford and be available during the summer months in that community in order to provide continued access to educational programming and tours.

We are very thankful to the Governor, the Commissioner, the Ernestina Commission,

(Left) Cape Verde’s Consul General to Boston Pedro Graciano Gomes de Carvalho receives the "Ernestina" quarterboard removed when the new Ernestina-Morrissey quarterboards were installed. Center DCR Commissioner Jack Murray, right Laura Pires-Hester

SEMA, the elected officials from New Bedford, and the donors for paving the way for her to sail again,” said Pedro Graciano Gomes de Carvalho, Cape Verde’s Consul General to Boston. “The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, as in the past, will always represent the friendship between the people of the United Sates and Cabo Verde, and the voyages of our forefathers, that gave way to the thriving Caboverdean community in America.”

“Let us not be under any illusion that any one individual, group of people, or entity, established the restoration of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey,” said SEMA

SEMA President Julius Britto expressed the heartfelt response the ship elicits in everyone who knows her.

President Julius Britto. “It has been her  soul, her spirit and her dignity that has compelled us all to restore her to sailing glory; because when this gracious lady sails she teaches us all about the humility of being.”

Philanthropist Gerry Lenfest was one of the main donors of this project and he notes that, “I am so pleased that the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey will now have a new chapter to add to her illustrious prior life.”

“It is fantastic that after 15 years of being associated with trying to repair such an historic ship, it is finally happening,” said Philanthropist and donor Robert Hildreth. “It took many hands on deck.”

“The restoration of this historic schooner, the Ernestina-Morrissey, represents something much greater than mere vessel maintenance. This restoration is symbolic of the state’s commitment to honoring New Bedford’s history while also promoting its trajectory into cutting edge industries, like wind energy. We saw over the summer, with a visit from the restored Charles W. Morgan, what a great boon to the area the restoration of our historical ships can be,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “I applaud the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, and all other stakeholders on this great achievement. I look forward to setting foot on its celebrated deck and seeing the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey sail once again.”

“The Massachusetts Schooner Ernestina Commission is pleased that we have reached this new milestone in Ernestina-Morrissey’s unique and diverse lives. Throughout her 120 years, she has persisted as a boundary-crossing force of resilience and adaptation, whether in the icy Arctic, in the fishing grounds of Gloucester or Newfoundland, in Cape Verdean

Dr. Laura Pires-Hester, Chair of the Schooner Ernestina Commission

inter-island waters, in transatlantic voyages filled with dreams,” said Chair of the Schooner Ernestina Commission, Dr. Laura Pires-Hester. “She is an amazing educator. Her ‘stories” have been extraordinary, including her 1982 return as extraordinary gift from the newly-independent Republic of Cabo Verde. So many thousands have walked her decks, sailed and/or worked on her, studied on her, created songs to her, and worked to keep her alive and working. We salute and give thanks to all–volunteers, donors, advocates, elected officials, educators, community organizations, friends, all. We look forward to writing her “whole new history”, together.”

“The Ernestina is a piece of living history that is an important educational tool that should not be squandered by neglect but cherished for its rare ability to teach us about our past”, said State Senator Mark Montigny. “The Ernestina is a direct link to our proud maritime and seafaring history that is why during my tenure in the Senate I have routinely secured funds to repair, operate and provide educational programming through amendments to the annual budget and state grants. As Chairman of the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and States Assets, I secured $ 2.5M for the restoration of the Ernestina as part of an environmental bond bill which is part of the funds being utilized to complete this project. The preservation of the Ernestina is another significant milestone in creating and fostering a tourist based development of the waterfront and downtown with critical state investments in the arts, culture, history and tourism sectors of the economy.”

“The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is an important part of history for both New Bedford and Massachusetts, and after so many years of advocacy, I’m pleased the vessel will be ready to sail again,” said Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral.

“I want to thank Governor Patrick and his administration along with philanthropists Gerry Lenfest and Robert Hildreth for stepping up and ensuring that the complete restoration of the schooner is finally a reality and I look forward to the return of the vessel to herhomeport of New Bedford,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

Admiral Richard Gurnon said Massachusetts Maritime Academy “cadets … will keep the traditions and history …… alive”

“Massachusetts Maritime Academy is pleased and proud to be able to be part of the next chapter of the life and legacy of the famous Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey,” said MMA President Admiral Richard Gurnon. “She was once a fishing vessel, then an Arctic explorer and finally a packet ship bringing immigrants from Cape Verde to America. Now she will start a new life as a sail training vessel bringing the young people who sail on her to new horizons of understanding, growth and opportunity. Once she is fully restored, she will be placed into service on the waters of the Atlantic, replicating her many voyages of scientific discovery and personal challenge. Rather than a museum piece on display, she will be a sailing ship, alive on the waters of New England. By having our cadets live aboard the schooner – sailing and maintaining her throughout the year – they will keep the traditions and history of the Morrissey, Bartlett and Mendes families alive, and they will be part of the next generation who will sign the logbook of this spectacular example of American shipbuilding skill.”

DCR received two bid submissions for the rehabilitation and repair of the

The event closed with Tom Goux performing his song about Ernestina-Morrissey "Sail Her Home" "You've seen her sailin' home, Brava to New Bedford, we all claim her as our own". There were few dry eyes as he finished with "There's a memory in her wake, Buzzards Bay to Nome, Sail Her Home, Sail Her Home"

SchoonerErnestina-Morrissey. After an extensive internal review of both proposals, DCR selected Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine to complete the work. A contract of $6,048,025 has been awarded to complete the necessary improvements to the historic ship.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Jack Murray, the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit Contact us at


Just 7% Left to Raise for Ernestina-Morrissey Restoration Project!

We will see Ernestina-Morrissey sail again. I say that today not as a hope or a wish,

Ernestina-Morrissey: On the brink of a new chapter in her life of sailing.

but as a certainty.  Thanks to your generous support, her next voyage will be as a fully restored ship, sailing from Boothbay to Buzzards Bay.

So many people have told me that this ship is deeply important to them personally – their family members sailed on her during her first years as a Grand Banks Fishing Schooner; they began their immigrant journey aboard her from Cabo Verde; they had a life-changing overnight educational experience on the sea; or their ancestors went on an Arctic expedition aboard Ernestina-Morrissey. They are changed by her.

We will see her sail again, and here’s the plan that is now in motion to make it happen:

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine will complete the total renovation for $6 million.

  • Two private philanthropists have donated $2.8 million.
  • The Commonwealth has pledged $2.5 million.
  • SEMA has raised $285,000 to date.
  • SEMA has agreed to raise the additional funds needed — $415,000 — to complete her restoration.
  • Mass Maritime Academy has committed to be Ernestina-Morrissey’s future caretaker, ensuring her sailing future for many years to come.

The ship will be towed to Boothbay Harbor Shipyard within the next month. We will gather at the State Pier in New Bedford (and I hope you will join me!) and say, “Farewell,” or perhaps more appropriately, “Fair winds and following seas.” We will envision the day when she will return, sails full of wind, a shiny bowsprit reflecting the bright sun, and thousands of people — all who were touched by her — joyfully cheering her on.

The total restoration is only assured if SEMA can raise the $415,000 needed to complete the work. We are in the home stretch of what’s been a marathon, and we MUST make it happen! Please give generously as you are able to ensure Ernestina-Morrissey swift return from Boothbay to Buzzards Bay. Thank you.

With gratitude for the realization of our collective dream

Julius Britto

← Older posts   |   Newer posts →