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.

World War II Service

Did you know Ernestina-Morrissey served in World War II?  The ship was sent on secret missions to the Arctic waters known so well by Captain Bartlett to identify sites for and to assist in the construction of and service to Army air bases in Greenland.

There is some information in the archive website.  If you want to know more check out the book “Quest for a Northern Air Route” by Alexander Forbes.  Commander Forbes was assigned to the the Morrissey by the Navy.

News from Boothbay Harbor

These half models, crafted by Capt. Harold Burnham were shown at the recent Schooner Ernestina Commission meeting to demonstrate how the shear of Ernestina-Morrissey will be restored with the work going on at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.  Although there are no plans from her original construction in Essex in 1893-94, there are plans that were drawn by Southmayd Hatch & Thomas A. Soyster at Staten Island, NY in April 1931.

Half Model, crafted by Capt. Harold A. Burnham, showing the present shear of the Ernestina-Morrissey. The bow's shear was restored during the 2008-2009 work. This model is based on lines recorded by National Park Service HABS/HAER in 2008 and by Andres Williams in 2015

Half Model, crafted by Capt. Harold Burnham, showing the planned shear of the Ernestina-Morrissey. The bow's shear was restored during the 2008-2009 work. The stern will be restored during the work the ship is undergoing now at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. This model is based on lines recorded by Southmayd Hatch and Thomas A. Soyster at Staten Island in April 1931.

Close up of the sterns of two half models, crafted by Harold A. Burnham, showing the planned shear of the Ernestina-Morrissey. You can see a clear comparison of "before (top) and after (bottom)" The stern will be restored during the work the ship is undergoing now at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

A supply of bronze screws has arrived at the shipyard.  They were special ordered for the project.

There are two sizes of screws. You can get an idea of the size from the pen.

SEMA Awarded Medal by Cabo Verde Prime Minister

The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association (SEMA) was among forty organizations and individuals recently awarded a Distinctive Services Medal or Merit Medal  by the Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, José Maria Pereira Neves. The presentation of medals was made at a “Gala Dinner & Cultural Evening” at the Venus de Milo restaurant in Swansea on September 26th. It was part of a five-month celebration that began in April of this year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Cape Verde’s national independence. Other honorees included the Cape Verdean Association of Bridgeport, Onset Cape Verdean Festival Association and the Southern California Cape Verdean Association.

The government of Cape Verde chose to recognize organizations that have rendered

Commission Chair Laura Pires-Hester, Mary Anne McQuillan, Manuel Lopez, Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves, and Julius Britto

valuable services to the Cape Verdean community in the U.S. and Cape Verde. SEMA was nominated and selected for its work in preserving the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey. The ship is the official vessel of Massachusetts and a National Historic Landmark which was returned to Massachusetts as a gift to the people of the U.S. by the Republic of Cape Verde in 1982. Ernestina-Morrissey was then described as “an unmistakable catalyst in fostering a very special bond of friendship and human assistance from one country to another.” SEMA’s directors and supporters were recognized by the Prime Minister for their loyalty and perseverance in ensuring the Schooner is restored and treasured for its cultural and historical value.

Ernestina-Morrissey has always been much more than a ship for many of us in the Cape Verdean community. It is a symbol of the connections between Cape Verde and America, and it is a symbol of our cultural history. That has meant that we must do everything we can to make sure this ship doesn’t sink, and our history doesn’t get lost along with it,” said SEMA President Julius Britto after accepting the Medal.

Commission Chair Laura Pires-Hester and SEMA President Julius Britto presented the Prime Minister with a copy of the new book "Phoenix of the Seas"

Currently, the Schooner is in Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine, undergoing a total renovation, which is estimated to take three years and $6 million. SEMA was instrumental in securing over $5 million, both private and public funds, which have enabled her current restoration. SEMA continues to work to raise an additional $1 million to ensure that the current renovation is completed. When Ernestina-Morrissey is fully restored, she will return to Massachusetts and serve in an educational capacity, as she has in the past.

“The success of SEMA in both fundraising and awareness-building for Ernestina-Morrissey is only possible because of the efforts of the SEMA Directors and many, many volunteers. We also recognize and appreciate the willingness of the Schooner Ernestina Commission and Commission Chair Laura Pires-Hester to work collaboratively with SEMA,” said SEMA Secretary Mary Anne McQuillan

Friendraising and Fundraising for Ernestina-Morrissey

Next week’s Working Waterfront Festival will cap a summer of events presenting Ernestina-Morrissey to old friends and new.

Volunteers are vital to the return of Ernestina-Morrissey, Join the CREW!

Although our favorite ship, Ernestina-Morrissey will not be in her usual berth for the Working Waterfront Festival it is important that we reach out to everyone to explain the exciting news of her reconstruction and bright future.

I hope you will  help out in the booth for a couple of hours Saturday or Sunday.

The hours are 11 am – 6 pm on Saturday, September 26 and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday, September 27.  It is a great festival with music and demonstrations and contests.  Take a look at the festival schedule and CONTACT US let us know when you can help.

Chester Brigham, author of Phoenix of the Seas

An added bonus at the Festival will be the appearance of Chet Brigham for an author signing of his new book Phoenix of the Seas . on  Saturday 9/26 at 2:30.  Stop by, learn some new things about Ernestina-Morrissey’s history, and pick up your copy of the book for yourself.

On August 8,

SEMA President Julius Britto brought the latest news to the Onset Cape Verdean Festival.

Thousands attend the Festival to reconnect with friends and enjoy a beautiful summer day.

Julius and other volunteers shared the latest news.

On August 22

the The Cape Verdean Association in New Bedford, Inc. hosted Schooner Ernestina Commission Chair, Laura Pires-Hester at the The Cape Verdean Cultural Center.

Dr. Laura Pires-Hester, Chairperson of MA Schooner Ernestina Commission and Alves Medeiros, Chief of Staff for MA state representative Antonio Cabral at recent "What's Up With Ernestina?" Open House held at Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford Cultural Center.


On the summer afternoon of Saturday, August 22, 2015, several members of the community gathered to hear the most recent updates about the historic and unique Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey at the Cape Verdean Association Cultural Center in New Bedford, MA.  MA Schooner Ernestina Commission Chairperson Dr. Laura Pires-Hester said thanked the CVANB President Raquel Dias and Officers for opening their space for this community gathering, especially Officer  Scott Lima.  She said that it was a most appropriate venue since “both the Schooner and the Cultural Center are currently undergoing restoration, and both are being done with careful planning and broad support….”   In addition to the sharing of information, answering of questions, and urging continued support by Dr. Pires-Hester and Commissioner Gene Monteiro, and SEMA (Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association) President Julius Britto, the group was also addressed by Alves Medeiros, Chief of Staff for MA State Representative Antonio Cabral.   Representative Cabral is a longtime supporter and advocate for the Schooner, and Mr. Medeiros enthusiastically shared their constant message to make sure that the people of the Commonwealth of MA understand that Ernestina-Morrissey is the Flagship for the whole state, not just New Bedford or for the Southeast.  He committed their full support going forward and urged everyone to continue to demonstrate their concerns and financial support for the vessel’s restoration and her new future.

Several videos and photos of the Schooner’s life and diverse careers were on display, including a blow-up of the Cape Verdean £200 Escudo with picture of the Schooner (alongside Mr. Britto), sale items,  and the Panels created in 1982 with a $10,000 grant from National Endowment for the Humanities.  SEMA Officer Polly Zajac narrated the slide show of recent photos of the restoration at BoothBay Harbor Shipyard taken by Commissioner Fred Sterner and SEMA Officer Mary Anne McQuillan.  Special “stories” were also shared, which always happens at events about this unique vessel.  For example, the father of CVANB Vice President Adonis Ferreira shared that he was an engineer on the Schooner in the late 1960’s.  Placing his hand over his heart, he shared that he was so grateful because sailing between the Islands gave him the “opportunity to get to know all of them.”  Dr. Pires-Hester noted that this kind of interaction happens often, and emphasized that we all need to continue our support “so that many more stories can be created and shared in the future.”

The Schooner Ernestina Commission and Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association are grateful for the cooperation and co-sponsorship of the CVANB, the Office of Representative Antonio Cabral, the Old Bedford Village Development Corp, the Whaling Historical National Park, the New Bedford Historical Society, and Tony Neves Travel.  Thanks and appreciation also go to John Pires, Jr.,  Frank Grace, and Mary Pires Grace for their providing “manchupa/katchupa”, “gufongo”, and cakes; and for the several other volunteers who joined in.

The next meeting of the Schooner Ernestina Commission will be held on Monday, October 5, 2015, 1-3pm, at the National Park Service; the public is invited.

By Laura Pires-Hester, Ph. D.

Chairperson, Schooner Ernestina Commission

On September 5

SEMA Director Polly Zajac represented Ernestina-Morrissey at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Day of the Annual Schooner Festival.  As usual many friends stopped by for the latest news.  And Chet Brigham was there for part of the afternoon discussing his new book, Phoenix of the Seas.

It was a great weekend with a record number of schooners competing in the races.  The new schooner Columbia had everyone talking with her first place finish.

If the link to the Columbia video doesn’t work try the Ernestina-Morrissey Facebook page, it is posted there.

On September 6

Commissioner Fred Sterner and SEMA Secretary Mary Anne McQuillan visited Boothbay Harbor.  There are new photos posted on in the Flickr Album.

Finally SEMA is working to raise the $1 million we have pledged toward the reconstruction project.  There will be more news soon or you can DONATE TODAY!



What’s Up with Ernestina?

Come And Find Out!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015



1157 Acushnet Avenue

New Bedford, MA

Opportunities to Ask and to Share!

1982 Historical Panels!

Videos and Photos!

Fellowship and Fun!

Music and Refreshments!

And More……!!!!!!











For further information, please call  917-853-8135

The News from Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

Work is progressing at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard and many of you that have visited have sent photos.  Commissioner Fred Sterner met with the shipyard crew July 29.  The photos have been compiled in a Flickr Album.  When you click on a photo it enlarges and if you scroll down most have descriptions.  Keep sending those photos.  It is an amazing process to watch!

The crew was able to remove the aft cabin, constructed in Cape Verde of African Mahogany, intact. Photo Credit: Fred Beauchemin

Eric Graves, President of Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, recently shared with CBS 13 a description of the Ernestina-Morrissey project. And Laurie Schreiber of the Island Institute recently published an article in The Working Waterfront.

Ernestina-Morrissey and Cape Verdean Recognition Week

Ernestina-Morrissey was well represented during Cape Verdean Recognition Week Festivities.

The Museum displayed the model of the ship from their collection.

On June 30 the New Bedford Whaling Museum hosted a special event as SEMA President Julius Britto described his experiences being present at the formal transition to independence for Cape Verde 40 years ago.  Schooner Ernestina Commissioner and Whaling Museum trustee Eugene Monteiro introduced Julius.

Julius described his first introduction to Schooner Ernestina during that visit.  We hope New Bedford Cable Access will have the recording available soon.

SEMA Directors and Schooner Ernestina Commissioners shared the latest news from the shipyard during the reception.

On Sunday Commissioner once again lead the Ernestina-Morrissey contingent in the Cape Verdean Recognition Parade with SEMA director Derek Stevens.

Commissioner Gene Monteiro & Grand Marshall Victor Fonseca Photo Credit ROBERT HUGHES STANDARD-TIMES SPECIAL

Check out the YouTube Video.

Cabo Verde — 40 Years after Independence

Where were you on July 5th, 1975?

Julius Britto was in Praia, Cape Verde.  Julius will take you to there to re-live the

Juilus Britto's 1975 passport photo

excitement of the first Independence Celebration of Cape Verde.  You will be fascinated as he recounts his life-changing experiences leading up to and after that eventful day in Cape Verdean history.

You will hear how this experience became the driving force in his support for the preservation of the Ernestina-Morrissey.  Julius was appointed to the first Massachusetts Ernestina Commission in 1977 by Governor Michael Dukakis.  He is currently President of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. and is working with the Ernestina

Ernestina leaving Cape Verde in 1982

Commission to assure a bright, SAILING future for the Ernestina-Morrissey.

This presentation for the 43rd Cape Verdean Recognition Week is sponsored by the Schooner Ernestina Commission, the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  During the 6:00 pm reception you can enjoy the Museum’s Yankee Baleeiros! Travelling Exhibit which will be displayed in the Jacob’s Gallery.

Julius is the Great Grandson of a Cape Verdean Whaler. He was born in Wareham; graduated from Wareham High School; obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and a graduate degree from Boston University.

He became an adult probation officer in 1974 and in 1980 he was sworn in as a United States Probation officer. In 2006 Julius retired as a Supervising United States Probation officer in the Boston Federal Probation office.

Julius and his wife Sandra are the owners of Attentive Home Care, Inc. located in Marion, Ma.

What?  A presentation for the 43rd Cape Verdean Recognition Week by the Schooner Ernestina Commission, the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  The Museum’s Yankee Baleeiros! Travelling Exhibit will be displayed in the Jacob’s Gallery.

Where: New Bedford Whaling Museum

18 Johnny Cake Hill

New Bedford, MA

When: Tuesday June 30, 2015

Reception: 6:00 pm

Lecture: 6:30

A New History of Ernestina-Morrissey

SEMA Secretary Mary Anne McQuillan, Author Chester Brigham, Schooner Ernestina Commission Chair Laura Pires-Hester

On Saturday, June 13, Chester Brigham introduced his new book to an enthusiastic audience at Cape Ann Museum.  Phoenix of the Seas :Ernestina-Morrissey State Ship of Massachusetts” is available at the gift shop at the Museum and at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

Laura Pires-Hester’s blurb.

recommends that anyone who loves Ernestina-Morrissey should read this book.






Here’s how to order your own copy.


And here is a review from Lauren Daley.

Also available on

Click the Amazon Smile link on the right to benefit Ernestina-Morrissey with your purchase.







Here’s Where Ernestina-Morrissey Has Been

Ernestina at Seamen's Bethel

On a lovely summer evening the New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus took the audience at the Seamen’s Bethel for a voyage by song, visiting the far reaches of the world’s oceans.  AHA!’s Latitude and Longitude theme was a celebration of the many lives of Ernestina-Morrissey.  Where has she been?  Launched from Essex, MA, for her first 30 years she fished the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and carried cargo and fished from New England to Labrador.   Since 1926 she has traveled to Asia, South America, Europe (Iceland) and Africa. The farthest North, South East and West:

Farthest SOUTH, 1928, West coast of Panama, 6° N, 80° W

Farthest WEST, 1928, Wrangel Island, Siberia, Russia, 71 ° N,  180° W

Farthest NORTH, 1940, Ellesmere Island, Canada, 80° 22’ 30’ N,  62° W

Farthest EAST, 1951, Dakar, Senegal,14° N, 17° W

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