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.

120 Years of Maritime History

This year we will be celebrating Ernestina-Morrissey’s 12oth anniversary.  The Schooner Ernestina Commission is planning several events to commemorate this significant year.

Schooner Arethusa, 1907

120 years ago, on Feb. 1, 1894, a scene similar to this one would have occurred as Effie M. Morrissey was launched from the John F. James & Washington Tarr shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts. It is interesting that this photo shows the launch of another of Captain Clayton Morrissey’s vessels.


Schooner Columbia




After launch, ships (Columbia shown here) built in Essex were often towed to Gloucester to be fitted out… rigged, ballasted and equipped according to their use. “The contract price was $6,700 for hull and spars, ready for rigging. The Effie M. Morrissey was the last fishing schooner built for the Wonson Fish Company. She took four months to build and was launched February 1, then towed by the tug Startle to Gloucester, the Morrissey was fitted out for the season to go salt cod fishing”  Schooner Ernestina Commission Archives

For the kick-off event on March 3 Traudi Coli and Tim Walker will deliver a lecture “SCHOONER ERNESTINA/EFFIE M. MORRISSEY AT 120:  A LOOK BACK AT HER HISTORY AND THE HISTORY OF CAPE VERDEAN IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES”  followed by a birthday celebration during AHA! on Thursday, March 13.   Check the links in “Upcoming Events” in the right-hand column for details about the celebration at the March AHA and the Ernestina-Morrissey Archives lecture!

January Covergirl.

Ernestina-Morrissey is Miss January in the Spinner Publications New England Fisherman calendar.

1940 was the year  the Morrissey set a record for furthest north at 80 degrees 22 minutes North Latitude. That’s only 578 nautical miles from the North Pole.  Follow the link in the timeline to John Pitcairn’s log.

You can see the horizontal antenna supports at the top of the topmasts for the radio.  Among other assignments, the vessel served as a radio-relay vessel to northern outposts in Canada, Greenland and the Soviet Union during World War II.

Order yours from Spinner Publications.

Norcross Winter Lecture

On Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm Schooner Ernestina Commissioner, and former Mate, Fred Sterner and  Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association Secretary Mary Anne McQuillan and will share the amazing history of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey with Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary’s members and guests.

Why will they travel to Wales, MA in the middle of Massachusetts, far from the coast? Because the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary was founded by Arthur D. Norcross  and he sponsored and sailed with Captain Bob Bartlett in 1931, 1932 and 1933.

If you would like to attend please contact the Sanctuary.

Arthur D. Norcross, a native of Monson, Massachusetts, founded the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary in 1939. An active sportsman and participating sponsor of several Arctic expeditions, Mr. Norcross turned his lifelong interest in wildlife and the out-of-doors to his childhood “stomping grounds:” the wooded hills surrounding Monson and nearby Wales. Using as a core the 100-acre family woodlot/pasture-inherited from his father, A. D. Norcross, in 1916, Mr. Norcross began circa 1930 to gather nearby wooded acres, farmland, wetlands and other parcels. His purpose was to establish the Sanctuary, known locally as Tupper Hill.

Join the Chorus!

The New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus has started rehearsals for the 2014 season just around the corner! We are always looking for new members. We are already getting concert requests for the summer.

If you’d like to give it try, we’ll be meeting on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:00PM at the New Bedford Unitarian Church on Union St.   Use the Eighth St entrance (and parking lot).

Let the singing begin!!

Winter Cover On!

Manny Silva, David Pires and the rest of the DCR crew completed the winter cover just in time for the storm!  The structure had to be rebuilt now that the masts are in the ship again.  Manny and David will be on watch at the ship during the storm.

$125,000 Challenge

Read President Britto’s letter here.



New T-shirts Recognize Ernestina/Morrissey’s Refits

New shirts are available!  The shirts feature the “classic” front.   On the back is a line drawing of Ernestina ex Effie M. Morrissey‘s hull, rig and sail plan produced by the HAER Maritime Recording Program of the National Park Service.  Below the drawing is recognition of the ship’s several refits as she sailed though her many “lives” : 1894 Essex, MA – built for the Gloucester cod fishery * 1926 Staten Island, NY – refit for Arctic Exploration*1982 Mindelo, Cape Verde – refit for return to the United States * 2009 Boothbay Harbor, ME – restoration begins * Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The color is “ash”.

M&R Screenprinting did a great job on the shirts.  We are thinking of ordering some in children’s sizes. what do you think?

Arthur Moniz Art Gallery has generously offered to accept donations for the new shirts.  Stop by their gallery at 22 William St. in Downtown New Bedford.  We have sizes small, medium, large and extra large and the donation is $15 for sizes S,M,L, XL and $18 for XXL and XXXL.

If you would like to have a shirt mailed to you we can do that too.

If you want to make a donation by check the donation is $20 ($23 for large sizes) which includes mailing expenses.  Please CONTACT US. for instructions.

If you want to order online with a credit card or PayPal the donation is $20 ($23 for large sizes)which includes mailing expenses.  Please visit PayPal and enter $20 ($23 for large sizes) in the “donation amount” box.   Click “continue” next the the credit card icons or log in if you have a PayPal account.  Fill in your information and indicate the size shirt you need and mailing instructions by clicking “add special instructions to the seller” and we’ll send you your shirt.  Follow this link to our PayPal account. and click the “Donate” button.  If you have any questions CONTACT US.

We do have a few of the full-color shirts designed by George Fonseca available in sizes medium, extra large and extra-extra large.  Same donation, $20 includes mailing expense.

Thank you, Jen! Welcome, Laurel! Congratulations Frank!

Jennifer T. Nersesian has been selected as the next superintendent to lead Gateway National Recreation Area. This facility is one of the top 10 most visited National Parks.  Jen will be the only woman superintendent assigned to those 10 parks.  We understand perfectly why NPS has chosen Jen for this assignment.  She was a wonderful partner to the Schooner Ernestina serving as a commissioner and then as secretary to the Commission.  We will miss her.

Commissioners Fred Sterner, Steve Walsh, Karl Pastore, Supt. Nersesian, Commissioners Laura Pires-Hester and Gene Monterio.

The Commission and SEMA expressed their appreciation at the September meeting.

Laurel Racine, from the NPS Northeast Museum Services Center, will be serving as Acting Superintendent at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park over the next few months while the NPS work on filling the permanent position.

Laurel A. Racine comes to New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park from the National Park Service’s Northeast Museum Services Center (NMSC) in Charlestown, MA, which serves eighty NPS sites from Maine to Virginia. She is the Senior Curator for Research and Planning overseeing research and writing projects with a specialization in American material culture and historic house museums. She writes collection policy documents, collection management plan chapters, historic furnishings reports, and exhibit plans. In this work she has engaged with many types of partners, from nonprofits to government agencies to the private sector.

Laurel has worked as a museum educator and/or curator since 1989 at institutions including the Fuller Museum of Art, Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, Pilgrim Hall, Plimoth Plantation, and the Winterthur Museum. Laurel holds a B.A. in art history from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, a certificate in Museum Studies from Tufts University, and an M.A. in Early American Culture from the Winterthur Program at the University of Delaware.

She is delighted to be in New Bedford where she conducted her first historic house walking tour and her husband’s family calls home. Laurel lives in North Attleborough, MA, with her husband and two children.


In the most recent news from the NPS Frank Barrows, chief of Interpretation and Education at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, has been awarded the Freeman Tilden Award for the Northeast Region, for his work with the Youth Ambassador Program.

We are all very proud of Frank who has been helping on Ernestina for years!

Frank Barrows working on Ernestina's main boom during the 2006 NPS Work Day.

10th Annual Working Waterfront Festival

The 10th Annual Working Waterfront Festival drew large crowds with two days of beautiful weather to enjoy the music and food and the New Bedford waterfront. Nearly 2,000 visitors came aboard Ernestina for a tour.  We had a wonderful turnout of volunteers that made this possible.  THANK YOU!

Ernestina looked great with her gleaming new foremast

Meghan Lapp reads from her book Fast Friends

Fast Friends is the delightful tale of two small boats who get into big trouble! As they work together, they learn important lessons about friendship, doing things the right way, and following the rules.

Daisy Nell and Captain Stan returned this year to read from their new book

Captain Stan’s Foo Foo Band is delightfully illustrated by celebrated artist, George Ulrich. The book has a single-song music CD inside. Suitable for kids aged 3 to 9, entertaining for all ages.

SEMA Director Melissa DeValles explaining the ship's windlass

Melissa was only one of the many volunteers that staffed the ship.  They made the Open Ship possible.  Joe Pacheco came early both days to “dress ship” and deploy the safety equipment and helped in many ways.  Special thanks to DCR’s Manny Silva and Michelle O’Bannon whose presence and hard work made the weekend possible and to volunteers Annie, who scheduled and coordinated the deck volunteers and Chuck who worked with Jim Kendall on the very successful Blessing ceremony.

The Very Reverend Father Constantine Bebis offering a blessing.

On Sunday afternoon Ernestina’s deck hosted the 44th Annual Blessing of the Fleet.  An inter-denominational delegation of clergy officiated including The Very Reverend Father Constantine Bebis; from St. George Greek Orthodox Church in North Dartmouth, Monsignor Stephen J. Avila,  Pastor, St. Mary’s Parish, Mansfield, MA and Reverend Debra Lee, North Baptist Church of New Bedford.

SouthCoastToday published an account of the program. Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed everyone and several elected officials mentioned the importance of Ernestina to the City and the State.  Kudos to Jim and Verna Kendall for a wonderful afternoon.

Attorney General Martha Coakley spoke of the importance of the fishing industry

Schooner Ernestina Commissioner Gene Monteiro and SEMA Secretary Mary Anne McQuillan thanked the officials and the audience for their support of Ernestina.

29th Annual Gloucester Schooner Festival

On Saturday August 31 Maritime Gloucester hosted their Maritime Heritage Day as part of the three day Gloucester Schooner Festival.  The occasional downpours didn’t

Volunteers Mary Meehan, Al Bezanson and Chet Brigham

dampen the enthusiasm of our volunteers or the many visitors who stopped to talk.  Some had their first introduction to Ernestina ex Effie M. Morrissey and some shared family lore of parents and grandparents who were dorymen on the Morrissey or had other connections to the “salt-banker” days.  The vessel will always have a second homeport in Gloucester!

SEMA also collected signatures asking Massachusetts Congresspersons to

SEMA Director Kurt Hasselbalch

support the reintroduction in the 113th Congress of H.R.6145 — New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park Resources Assistance Act (Introduced in House – IH) introduced in the 112th Congress by Representative Frank and Representative Keating.  Schooner Ernestina ex Effie M. Morrissey is an important historical and educational resource and the ship deserves their support.  This drive will continue through the Working Waterfront Festival at the end of September.

On Sunday Schooner Adventure, one of Ernestina‘s Essex sisters came in second (with just 4 lowers) by only 4 minutes to Virginia (with topsails) in the Esperanto Cup race.  We congratulate all the folks who worked so hard to make this happen after a 20 year campaign to return the vessel to sailing.  Ernestina won the Esperanto Cup in 2001.  We look forward to the day when she will compete again!

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