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.

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.

Preparing Planks for the Transom

Ernestina-Morrisssey’s new transom is being fitted to the frames.

The topmost planking on the transom is cut to fit together above the water line.

Later the same day the last piece of the puzzle is fit and fastened. Tomorrow the first full plank will be attached.

The transom has an extreme curve and some of the planks must be steamed and bent to a form to set the needed curve of the planks.  Some members of the crew are in the workshed working on the plank for the next day.

This form will be used to bend the planks to fit the transom frame. Notice the steel I-beams that support the frame and will give a strong structure to fasten the clamps to.

The crew hurries the 3 inch thick oak plank to the form.

The process starts with a chain and a lenth of angle iron so the chain will not scar the edges of the plank. This will hold the end of the plank to the form.

Manpower starts forcing the plank to the form as Alessandro Lopes film the action for the Sails over Ice and Seas documentary.

A hydraulic jack is used to force the plank to the curve of the form as clamps are added to hold it down.

The jack tightens the chain that is looped from the U-channel on the jack to the I-beam.

More clamps are added as the plank gets closer to the form.

At last the clamps get a final tightening and the plank is fit to the form where it will stay overnight until the crew is ready to fasten it to the transom.

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.


Fair Winds and Congratulations, Melissa DeValles

Melissa DeValles has resigned from the Board Of Directors of SEMA and has been sworn in as a member of the Schooner Ernestina Commission.

Melissa on right, with two MMA cadets at a Ernestina Work Day in the spring of 2012.

Melissa brings great experience to the Commission.  In addition to her time on the SEMA board, she has served as deckhand and engineer on Ernestina and is a Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) grad.  She is well prepared to help as Ernestina-Morrissey transitions to her exciting future.

Join the Ernestina-Morrissey Whiskey Plank Club!!!

The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association cordially invites one and all to become a part of the schooner’s history when your name is added to the whiskey plank, which will be laid in late July!  A whiskey plank is the last plank to be put in place to finish construction of a vessel’s framing and planking.  For us, this is a significant milestone in Ernestina-Morrissey’s hull restoration. For a minimum donation of $100, a Whiskey Plank Club Member will have their name (or a name of their choice) inscribed on the Ernestina-Morrissey’s whiskey plank and will also receive a commemorative photo! Make your donation of $100 (or more!) online through the SEMA PayPal account* or you can mail us a check to SEMA, P.O. Box 2995, New Bedford, MA, 02741.  Let us know what name you want inscribed.  Funds must be received by July 25.

Four planks a day are going on to the frames. The last plank the shutter or whiskey plank will go on at the end of July.

Traditionally the laying of the whiskey plank is marked by a celebration at the shipyard.  To highlight the vessel’s unique history; Cape Ann rum, Canadian whiskey, Cape Verdean grogue and Buzzards Bay beer will all be used to celebrate her whiskey plank!  SEMA will publish photos of the ceremony, as well as a complete thank you list of all Ernestina-Morrissey Whiskey Plank Club Members! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to have a lasting impact on the completion of schooner’s hull, and literally be inscribed in her history!  Please make your contribution today and join the Ernestina-Morrissey Whiskey Plank Club! *Be sure to let us know, in the “Add special instructions to the seller” box, what name you want inscribed!



Thank You to our Sponsors!

Celebrating all the stories of Ernestina-Morrissey‘s Amazing History!

Ryan and Wood Distilleries

The Bisca Tournament Club in New Bedford

Buzzards Bay Brewing

Sails Over Ice and Seas

Christian Lopes, at far right, is filming the crew installing the next plank.

Rick Lopes has been collecting images and interviews of Ernestina-Morrissey‘s history for over thirty years. His plan to produce a documentary called “Sails Over Ice and Seas: The Life and Times of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey” is falling into place with “the generous support from several institutions and individuals, particularly Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest” is described in the latest issue of Sea History magazine.  (page 14).  A teaser can be viewed HERE.

Rick has been joined by his sons, Alessandro and Christian, as the recording is completed and editing begins.

“The documentary is still a work in progress and Rick encourages anyone who has photographs, archival film, or a personal connection to the schooner to contact either NMHS or Voyage Digital Media. ” (Voyage Digital MediaNational Maritime History Society)

Christian Lopes

Deck Beams Going In!

The crew at the Bristol Marine Shipyard in Boothby Harbor has made great progress since our last post in April!  The planking continues, up from the keel and down from the sheer.  The last plank of the  (shutter) strake, called the whiskey plank, will finish the planking and be cause for celebration!

Working on the topsides planking. The timbers rising above the sheer are the bulwarks. Photo Credit Harold Burnham

The cap on the transom is coming together well.

Shaping the port transom cap. Photo Credit Harold Burnham

Starboard side of transom Photo Credit Harold Burnham

The deck beams run athwartships, from port side to starboard.

Athwartships deck beams and framing, looking from the rudderpost forward. Photo Credit Harold Burnham

Preparing a frame that will fit between two deck beams Photo Credit Harold Burnham

The framing is notched into the beam Photo Credit Harold Burnham

The beams and framing must allow for the hatches, deck “furniture” and cabin trunks.

The red line surrounds the frame left open for the aft cabin trunk. The blue line surrounds the rudder post with the passage for the steering linkage from the steering gear to the rudder. Photo Credit Harold Burnham

The crew is not ready to start laying the deck, but in the work shop the crew continue to prepare the covering boards, the outermost deck plank on each side, which fit over the stanchions and assure, when well caulked, that water washing off the deck cannot leak into the hull.

Preparing covering boards. Photo Credit Harold Burnham

By late June some of the covering boards are in place,

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 Has Started

The hull of a ship like Ernestina-Morrissey is curved from stem to stern and from keel to bulwarks.  As a result every plank has to be shaped to fit with its mates to form those curves. The process starts with 3 inch oak timbers.

These photos were taken on March 26, 2018.

A spiling batten is used to scribe the line that will guide the cut to shape the plank.

Lines are scribed on the stock for the correct shape.

Once the stock is marked a circular saw is used to cut along the curved line to shape the plank.

The plank is then planed to three inches as you can see in this video.  And here David Short shapes the caulking bevel.

The planks are then brought to the railway and readied to be steamed.

The steam bag is a more portable modern answer to a steam box. The planks must be steamed so they will be flexible enough to bend to fit tightly to the frames.

Bristol Marine has shared photos with us and also videos on their Facebook page.  If you have access to Facebook check out:

Drone’s eye view

40 foot sheer plank going in (to railway)

sheer plank coming out of steam bag

Sheer plank going on

The thickness of  planks next to the keel is 5 inches midships and is tapered to the stem and stern as you can see in the next sequence of photos.  Also notice the fastenings and check our post on fastenings.

3 1/8 thick near the stem

5" thick at midships as noted on plank

Note the curve (bend) in the starboard garboard strake, looking aft. "Strake" is a single strip of planking running longitudinally from the stem to the transom. On Ernestina-Morrissey it takes more than one plank to complete a strake. A smaller boat may have a single plank making up a strake,

Port garboard strake and the first broad strake above it, looking forward.

Port sheer strake looking aft.

Preparations for Aft Deck

Ernestina-Morrissey’s fore deck was renewed in 2008-’09.  The aft deck is a step up from the fore deck as the curve of the schooner’s sheer continues to the transom. A beam forms the step at the break in the deck.

For scale, this photo from 2002, shows the sampling from an otter trawl at the break in the deck.

From 2014, you can see the line of scuppers along the deck at the left, the freeing port at the break in the deck and the scuppers continuing along the aft deck.

The new beam, with a carved bull-nose, is ready to be fitted into place.

You can see where the deck will fit into the beam when it is laid.

The aft edge of the fore deck is ready for the new beam.

Meanwhile, in the work shed, the covering boards, the outermost deck plank on each side, are being prepared. They will be fit over the bulwarks flush with the rest of the deck.

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