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.

Recycle + History = Art

This summer artists from the SouthCoast visited New Bedford State Pier to glean surplus material from the Ernestina-Morrissey storage area.   Chuck Smiler and Gallery X‘s Chuck Hauck organized this opportunity for artists to “re-purpose” the material they gleaned with the cooperation of the Schooner Ernestina Commission and the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s project manager and pier manager.  The Recycle+History=Art exhibit and sale were in conjunction with Gallery X’s Ship Shape: Boats and Boatbuilding exhibit.  The sale of the works of art resulted in a donation of over $1,000 to Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association to benefit the ship’s rehabilitation.

Thank you to all the artists that participated.  The beautiful work they produced is a wonderful way to connect the community with the Ernestina-Morrissey. Some of the pieces are still available.  Contact Gallery X for information.


Time Line by Niko Tarini

Medusa by Denise Porche'

Star and the Moon and Baggy Wrinkle Bloom by Denise Porche'

Last Voyage by Mary Ellen Kenney

Circles by Maker Jake

Boson's Chair by Charles A, Hauck

Mermaid Ernestina by Rochelle (Roz) Levesque

Compass Rose by Rochelle (Roz) Levesque

The Captain's Cabinet by Janet Dassau

Amarj by Carol Almeida-Fortes

Growing Forward by Barbara Grace

Past and Present by Michelle T. Lapointe

Past and Present by Michelle T. Lapointe

Mahogany Bowl by Philip Arcouette

Why is there African Mahogany from a ship built in Essex, Massachusetts in 1894?

A knee is a structural element in the frame of a wooden ship.  The Ernestina was renovated in Cape Verde in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  Cape Verde has no history of wooden ship-building because the timber necessary to build ships does not grow there. But the islands have a long history of and much expertise in ship repair. Many Essex schooners were, at the end of their usefulness to U.S. owners were bought by Cape Verdeans like Captain Henrique Mendes and used as packets and whalers based in the Cape Verde Islands.  Hardwoods were brought from mainland Africa to repair these vessels.  That is how wood from Ernestina, originally built in Essex of American oak and pine, came to include tropical hardwoods.

The African mahogany found in some of the pieces in this exhibit came from scraps of wood that were removed from the ship during repairs done in the past.

This is a knee taken from the Ernestina-Morrissey last year during the rehabilitation at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.

Knees are important in stabilizing the framing of the ship. Here you can see both hanging and lodging knees.

Mahogany Bowl by Philip Arcouette

Mahogany Sculpture by Philip Arcouette

Oak Bowl by Philip Arcouette

Desk Ornament and Key Chain by Liz LaValley

Mahogany Bowl by Philip Arcouette

2 Boats by Leonard R. Langevin

Scrimshaw Necklaces with Beads From Ernestina Deck Trim by Liz LaValley

Oak Bowl by Philip Arcouette

Necklace with Centerpiece from Ernestina by Denise Berkley

Bowl with Nail by Lennie Langevin

Bowl with Nail (inside) by Lennie Langevin

New Commissioners Introduced

Karl Pastore (DCR designee), Dagny Ashley (MOTT designee), Jonathan Carvalho (DOE designee), Gene Monteiro (secretary), Licy DoCanto (vice chair) , Laura Pires-Hester (chair), Ed DePina, absent: Brian Rothschild .

At a recent Commission meeting three recently sworn in members were introduced to the attendees.  Dagny Ashley is the designee of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.  Dagny is the Director of Tourism & Marketing, Destination New Bedford, for the City of New Bedford.  Jonathan Carvalho is the designee of the Massachusetts Department of Education.  Jonathan is the Community and Public Affairs Manager for the New Bedford Public Schools.  Ed DePina brings financial expertise to the Commission.  Ed is an Assistant Vice President for State Street Corporation.

The new Ernestina-Morrissey banner was donated by Brewer Banner Designs.  Thank you!

Save the Date

There are a few events to share in September and if you can volunteer some time in Gloucester on September 3 or New Bedford on September 24 please CONTACT US.

Gloucester Schooner Festival and Maritime Heritage Day

The 32nd annual Gloucester Schooner Festival will be September 2-4, 2016.  Part of the festivities is the Maritime Heritage Day on Saturday September 3.  Come to Gloucester, check out the SEMA table ( and maybe help out) and find out about the progress at the Shipyard.

Ship Shape: Boats and Boatbuilding Opening Reception

Opening reception Sept 3rd. 5—8 PM
Gallery X  169 William ST New Bedford, MA

Check out some of the art!

Stop by Gallery X and check out the art inspired by Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.

The Upper William St. Neighborhood Festival

The Upper William St. Neighborhood Festival from noon until 4:00 PM on September 24 hosted by the Gallery and the First Unitarian Church of New Bedford.

Ship Shape: Boats and Boatbuilding exhibit will also be a central feature of the Festival.

During the festival the New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus, begun as a Schooner Ernestina volunteer activity, will host Sea Music at Tryworks from 11:30am until 6:00pm in the auditorium of the First Unitarian Church parish house on Eighth St., New Bedford.

Gallery X
169 William ST.
New Bedford, MA 02740

508 992-2675
Gallery hours – Wed.-Fri. and Sat. & Sun. 11am-3pm;
AHA! Nights (second Thursday of each month 5am-9PM
Partially funded by The Island Foundation, and friends and supporters of Gallery X

Ship Shape will run concurrently with an exhibit of the paintings of Donald Beal and David Paulsen in the Frederick Douglass Gallery on the lower level of Gallery X

Partially Funded by the Island Foundation and Friends and Members of Gallery X.

Sea Music at Tryworks

During The Upper William St. Neighborhood Festival the New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus, begun as a Schooner Ernestina volunteer activity, will host Sea Music at Tryworks from 11:30am until 6:00pm in the Auditorium of the First Unitarian Church parish house on Eighth St., New Bedford.

Busy Summer

Boothbay Harbor Windjammer Days

The summer had a great kick-off for Ernestina-Morrissey with an invitation to Boothbay Harbor’s Windjammer Days.  The vessel was celebrated along with the schooners of the Maine Windjammer Fleet.  With the center of the action at Whale Park, just two blocks from the Shipyard, many visitors walked up from our table display to view the rehabilitation progress.

The Friends of Windjammer Days and Boothbay Harbor Shipyard held a reception and tour of the Ernestina-Morrissey which was a huge success. Thank you to Eric Graves and especially Ross Branch for his excellent commentary on the phase 2 rebuild project.
They raised a donation in the amount of $400 for the rehabilitation which Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. gratefully received.

Great to be included with this gathering of Maine Windjammer Captains! credit Faces Maine by Maine Magazine

Cape Verdean Recognition Parade

On July 2, Derek Stevens, SEMA director, led the Ernestina-Morrissey contingent in the Cape Verdean Recognition Parade.

Recycle + History = ART

SouthCoast artists made several visits to the Ernestina-Morrissey storage area at State Pier this summer answering the call to create artwork made with recycled items from the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  With support from DCR and the Schooner Ernestina Commission SEMA provided surplus and other material which was beyond usefulness on a sailing ship.  This initiative was spearheaded by SEMA volunteer Chuck Smiler and Chuck Hauck from Gallery X.

Artist Alex Buchanan loading surplus line. Visit Gallery X to see the result!

GALLERY X – SHIP SHAPE: the Art of Boats and Boatbuilding

Recycle + History = ART from salvage relating to SV Ernestina-Morrissey

The Gallery X September show, Ship Shape: Boats and Boatbuilding, will include ART OF THE ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY highlighting and celebrating the Official Vessel of the Commonwealth, the historic Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  A portion of this section of the show will be new artwork created from material that was salvaged from or used in connection with the schooner.  Seventeen artists received material from the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. (SEMA), made available by the Massachusetts Schooner Ernestina Commission through the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The artists’ media include found-object and wood sculpture, stained and painted glass, jewelry, wood turning, nautical ropework, mobiles and more.  Half of the proceeds of sale of this “Recycle” art will be contributed to SEMA towards its fundraising for the current rebuilding of the Ernestina-Morrissey at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, in Boothbay, Maine.

Visit Gallery X Facebook Page for more information.

Onset Cape Verdean Festival

SEMA President Julius Britto with Sandy Britto and Director Derek Stevens greeted the many festival-goers on a beautiful day in Onset.

Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Joia; Mary Paulette a founding member of the Friends of ERNESTINA Wareham Chapter; Mass. Dept. of Industrial Accident Administrative Judge Yvonne Vieira; Sandra & Julius

National Park Service Centennial

The New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus helped Ernestina-Morrissey celebrate the NPS Centennial with performances at both the Salem and New Bedford National Historical Parks.

At the Salem Maritime Festival we were excited to see that the Essex Shipbuilding Museum brought along the “Little Effie” a 1/6 scale model of Ernestina-Morrissey built by Fred Littleton, a Bartlett Boy in 1940.  Fred sailed his “Little Effie” in company (scroll down for photos) with Ernestina when she visited Martha’s Vineyard.

Fred Littleton's "Little Effie"

In New Bedford at the August AHA! #FindYourPark the Chorus shared a song celebrating the NPS Centennial.  The video can be viewed on the NBWNHP Facebook page.

July at the Shipyard

The ship is starting to look like herself again.  It’s like watching a house frame going up.  It seems like you will be able to move in in a month, and then all the rest of the building begins.  It will be a couple more years to get her floating again but it will be WORTH IT!

The cant frames are in at the stern and the square frames which rest directly on the keel mid-ships are going up fast. A few floors, the horizontal pieces centered near the keel, are also in place.

Looking from the transom you can imagine the deck in place. These are not the deck beams but temporary bracing. You can see the rudder post with the passage for the rudder shaft and behind that the stern post.

The inside view looking from the transom: David is working on the sternpost, the rudderpost, painted gray is to his right.

Looking from the deck of the forward section near the windlass aft to the new framing and bracing.

A full square frame has been fastened to the forward section. The crew is getting ready to start integrating the new work to what was done in 2008-2009.

The forward section (here looking toward the stem) below the waterline will be rehabilitated to receive the new keelson and be fastened to the new keel.

New futtocks for the forward section.

Thank You, Fred Sterner

Fred, Fall 2003, his last season as mate on Ernestina.

From Schooner Ernestina Commission Chairperson, Laura Pires-Hester.

“On behalf of the Schooner Ernestina Commission and all the lovers and supporters of Ernestina-Morrissey, I want to extend deep thanks and appreciation to Fred Sterner, who has served faithfully as a Commissioner since appointment by former Governor Deval Patrick in the fall of 2011.  Throughout his tenure on the Commission, Fred has brought not only his technical expertise but also his passion and thoughtful observations and assessments to bear on the Commission’s deliberations.  His maritime experience and skills have been invaluable as we have continued to seek the well-being of this historic and unique vessel, and to be good stewards of this amazing gift from the Republic of Cabo Verde.

Fred’s maritime experience is wide-ranging.  In addition to having a 200-ton near-coastal Masters License/sail endorsement, he also holds unlimited radar and fire-fighting certificates.  But his experience includes more than the requisite credentials.  He has done rigging work for the New Bedford Whaling Museum on the famous Lagoda and Tea Party Museum ships.  During the winters he has been Mate/Engineer of the Spirit of Massachusetts and the Harvey Gamage, and served as Engineer on the Corwith Cramer (in the Caribbean) and the Robert C. Seamans (in the Pacific) as part of Sea Education Association.  For a couple of winters, he worked full time on the Ernestina when she was at Fairhaven Marine for repair work.  His has been a consistent voice of advocacy and care for the Schooner’s proper stewardship, and ensuring her dynamic and purposeful life for generations to come.  It has been a pleasure to serve with him on the Commission, and I know that he will continue to do whatever he can for her future.”

Three new Commissioners will be introduced at the September 22 meeting.

June at the Shipyard

Work is progressing on the Ernestina-Morrissey. Here’s what the ship looked like at the end of June.

Here's the view from the forward section looking toward the new stern. There's a pattern for a futtock waiting to be used for reference. You can see the ladder to reach the deck from the fish-hold. This section already has renewed deck beams and a new deck.

The fore mast step. This would carry the mast that came up through the aft end of the galley table.

Looking forward toward the stem which was replaced in Cape Verde in the late 1970's and is still sound.

Here is the new keel under the forward section of the hull.

And now to the new stern framing.

In June the crew was finishing up the cant frames, working forward to the frames that rest on the new keel.

The new keel looking forward. The grey scarfed section is aft most of the lead ballast sections. The keel is beveled to receive the garboard. The right side shows the dead wood with the stern frames attached. At the upper left you can see into the forward section of the ship. Between is a temporary platform to support the construction process.

The wood keel under the dead wood.

The propeller shaft has been bored and the bearing is in place on the stern post. The vertical timber at the right is the rudder post. The space between the stern and rudder posts will accommodate the propeller. There are still a couple of frames to erect here.

Stern post with bearing.

The stern structure is in place now.  This photo from last year will help visualize how it all fits.

The beauty of ship timbers

Ready for the last two cant frames.

The first square frame to rest on the keel. Notice the stubs of the trunnels used to fasten the futtocks together.

The crew preparing one of the last cant frames to be lifted into place. It is so heavy with the live oak futtocks and floor that it has to be lifted in two sections, starboard side first.

The frame sections had to be lifted over the forward frame into the gap.  You can watch the process here.

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #1

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #2

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #3

Lifting the forward-most cant frame into place. #4

Once the frame is in place it is fastened to the deadwood with silicon-bronze bolts.

With the port side frame in place the crew begins to fasten the frame to the deadwood.

Straps on the trunnel stubs hold the port and starboard sections in place.

Drilling pilot holes for silicon-bronze bolts

Getting the next frame ready

Notice the pattern on the frame for final adjustments.

Check more photos in our Flickr album.

New Stern Structure Coming Together

Ernestina-Morrissey‘s stern is getting all new framing as you know from previous posts .  The work is coming together beautifully as you can see.

credit H.Burnham

To give you a sense of scale of the project, the photo below is the cant frame forward of the stern-post that you see in the photo above. The frames aft of the stern post are fit into the ship’s structure with mortise and tenon.  This newly installed frame is not, it is bolted to a floor timber with silicon-bronze bolts.

Here's the after cant frame that will go just forward of the stern post. Fred gives it some scale. You can see it is already bolted together with the floor timber.

Silicon-bronze bolts

How do they keep the work symmetrical working with such heavy, unwieldy frames?   Old School!

A plumb bob to keep the work "square".

At the very aft of the stern structure the transom is taking shape too.

The framing of the new transom.

That is the rudderpost beyond the block and tackle.

Care is taken for every small but important detail, like limber holes.

The work platform has been moved to the ship and extended so that the larger frames can be assembled.

The larger frames forrard are being assembled close to their place in the ship's structure. This frame will be at the break in the deck, about mid-ships. credit H.Burnham

The forward part of the ship that was rehabilitated in 2008-2009. You can see the deck, deck beams and clamp are new but parts of the ship were reused.

Shipwrights at Work

The work on Ernestina-Morrissey‘s rehabilitation is just amazing and beautiful.  Much of the credit goes to the shipwrights who have the very best materials to work with.

A mortise is a hole or recess cut into a part, designed to receive a corresponding projection (a tenon) on another part so as to join or lock the parts together. Here you can see 5 mortises and the aftmost frame already in place.

One of the starboard frames ready to position, notice the tenon that will be inserted into the mortise.

The frames of Ernestina-Morrissey are double-sawn (two separate pieces of wood fastened together).  They are constructed of futtocks.  Each futtock is shaped according to patterns from the lofting of the plans.  Once the futtocks are shaped they are taken into the workshop for finishing.

The end of the futtock is trimmed and the tenon is marked.

The futtock is moved to the bandsaw where the tenon is cut. VIDEO and then to the planer where the surfaces are planed.  VIDEO

Planing the futtock

The futtocks are then moved to a special work surface to be joined into the frames.

The special work platform is level and notice the spaces to allow clamping.

A mixture of pine tar, turpentine and linseed oil is used to bed the futtock butts.

As the frames are assembled the planed surfaces of the futtocks are dressed with the same bedding as the butts.

The futtocks are joined into the double-sawn frame. They will be fastened with trunnels

More locust trunnels just arrived (1 1/8 inch diameter)

Futtocks of live oak and white oak are both used in one frame. The live oak is used in the area of the frame with the more extreme curve. Notice the butts of the trunnels protruding from the sides,

Once the frame is assembled it takes its place in Ernestina-Morrissey.

Watch this series of videos to see the process of raising the frame.  PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3

A temporary L bracket to pull the tenon into the mortise.

We’re sure you agree with us that this work is amazing and beautiful!

Amazing Oak!

Materials procurement has been one important facet of this first year’s work by Boothbay Harbor Shipyard and with the help of Harold Burnham, DCR’s owner’s representative on the project, they have stockpiled some amazing wood including Danish oak and Georgian live oak for Ernestina-Morrissey’s rehabilitation.

Danish oak : 3 inch thick for planking and 9 inch thick for framing, some 36 feet long

The story of the Danish oak involves England and the Napoleonic Wars.  After the neutral Danish fleet was confiscated by the British to keep it out of French hands, King Christian VII required that his lords plant thousands of oak trees on their lands to be raised for naval timbers.  They were pruned  and thinned until only the best were growing.  Meanwhile warship technology moved to iron and steel and by the time the timber was ready it wasn’t needed by the Navy.  It is now made available for special projects. And it was made available for the Ernestina-Morrissey due to her historical significance.

Danish oak, tall and straight

Danish oak of immense girth.


The live oak was cut in Georgia at Cross Sawmill.   Harold and Eric went to visit Steve Cross to check his operation.  The grain and strength of the wood and the growth pattern of the trees make live oak the very best for shaping curved ship timbers.  It is very heavy and hard to work.  Green live oak is over 90 pounds per cubic foot.

The live oak is so fresh the resurrection ferns revive when it rains.





Ross Branch developed a new technique to shape this hard to work wood.

Live oak slabs waiting to be shaped






In addition to the oak, another wood that is valuable for building ships like Ernestina-Morrissey is old growth yellow pine. In 2009 Fairhaven Mills in New Bedford was demolished.  It was built in the early 1890′s, about the same time as Effie M. Morrissey, and this is the type of wood that was used for the ship’s original deck in 1894.  The southern yellow pine was valued for use as beams in large buildings as well as for ship building and in 2009, then Mayor Scott Lang facilitated the donation of the beams from the building to Ernestina. The city has stored the wood for use in the renewal of the aft deck during the rehabilitation of the stern.

The yellow pine is stored at the city waterworks facility at Quitticas Pond

The beams are about 30 feet long and will make an historically accurate deck for Ernestina-Morrissey.

Harold Burnham inspecting the beams. You can see how substantial they are.

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