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.

Framing Finished!

The latest report from the shipyard is that the framing of Ernestina-Morrissey is complete!

The framing is done. This view from foredeck looking aft and shows the bracing that is holding the aft frames. The deck beams are next. credit Harold Burnham

Here's an earlier interior shot of the framing nearly done from forepeak looking aft credit Harold Burnham

For more photos and reports on the progress check the January Commission Report.

Harold Burnham, DCR Owners Representative for the Ernestina-Morrissey project, presented at a panel for the Tall Ships America Annual Meeting. The theme for the conference was The Way of a Ship: Linking our History, Heritage and Future., with one topic being Historic ship preservation and utilization. The panel discussed Maritime Heritage and included representatives from the USS Constitution, the Schooner Adventure, and the Schooner Ernestina Morrissey, all historic ships undergoing rehabilitation.  Good company for Ernestina-Morrissey!


Save the Date!

SEMA RECEIVES $375,000 Challenge Grant from Manton Foundation!!!

Matching the Manton Foundation $375,000 challenge grant will be  instrumental in  SEMA’s reaching the $1,000,000 goal for Phase I

The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. (SEMA) announced the receipt of a $375,000 1:1 challenge grant from The Manton Foundation.   The funding will support the final stage of the three year, $6.3 million-dollar restoration/rehabilitation of the historic Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.

Julius Britto, President of SEMA, stated; “We are enormously grateful to The Manton

Looking forward from the transom at the level of the weather deck. The aft "deck beams" are just temporary bracing. credit Phil Smith

Foundation for approving this most generous grant at such a critical stage in our campaign. The challenge gives SEMA a powerful catalyst to raise the $750,000 needed to complete the project. We are also grateful to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and numerous private donors who already contributed $5,550,000 to the project, which launched in 2015.”

The Ernestina-Morrissey is a National Historic Landmark Vessel and the Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She was launched in Essex, Massachusetts in 1894 as a Grand Banks dory fishing schooner and subsequently made 20 voyages as an Arctic exploration vessel under the legendary Captain Bob Bartlett.  The Ernestina-Morrissey was then purchased by Captain Henrique Mendes, who used her as a trans-Atlantic and inter- island Cape Verde packet.  She was rebuilt and presented to the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Republic of Cape Verde as a living symbol of the connections between the two countries, and served as an ambassador for the Commonwealth, a sail training vessel, and sea classroom before becoming a shore side exhibit in New Bedford.

Upon completion of the most recent renovation, currently underway in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the hull will meet Coast Guard standards for an “Ocean License,” a necessary requirement for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to add the vessel to its fleet. Thus, the Ernestina-Morrissey can begin yet another chapter in her remarkable life: training new generations of mariners, continuing to provide public programing, and serving as a sailing ambassador for the Commonwealth and our maritime heritage.

Anyone interested in helping SEMA meet the match can use the Donate button at the right.

Year End at the Shipyard

Happy New Year Ernestina-Morrissey!  We look forward to exciting progress in 2017.

Happy New Year! credit Harold Burnham

Phil Smith, a longtime friend of the ship visited the Shipyard last month.  He shared some great photos.

credit Phil Smith

Looking forward from the transom at the level of the weather deck. The aft "deck beams" are just temporary bracing. credit Phil Smith

Work is proceeding on the frames in the forward part of the ship. Here port and starboard parts of frames are ready to be installed. The bulkhead between the fo'c'sle and the engine room is helping support the deck. credit Phil Smith

The frames are assembled from the futtocks on the work table next to the hull with trunnels used to fasten the sections together. credit Phil Smith

Meanwhile the work continues in the stern. The transom frame as well as the rudder post has been painted. credit Phil Smith

The floors have been fastened to the cant frames and you can see the stern post forward of the rudder post. credit Phil Smith

Lower section of rudder post shaped to fit rudder shaft photo credit Phil Smith

Cant frame floors from side. credit Phil Smith

Floors and frames looking aft to transom credit Phil Smith

Patterns for shaping floors credit Phil Smith

About a week later photos from Harold show the bulkhead between the fo’c'sle and the engine room has been removed and the new frames are now resting on the keel and supporting the deck.

From the new stern you can look forward all the way to the stem now that the bulkhead has been removed. credit Harold Burnham

On the port side you can see the gap that still needs to be filled with new frames. credit Harold Burnham

The frames forward to the stem will stay in place. The new frames are easy to notice. The vertical beams support the deck with the bulkheads and steel I beam gone. credit Harold Burnham

The raw looking wood is an old floor, the grey painted area with debris on it is the new keel. Above the floor is the original keelson, still supporting the deck. credit Harold Burnham

This diagram shows the keel, floor and keelson. credit How a Wooden Ship is Built: Fig 2

During December work continued on the forward part of the ship.

A section of the original keelson. credit Harold Burnham

The crew is getting a frame ready to raise, Notice the jack and timber holding up the deck. credit Harold Burnham

The square hole held the I beam that was supporting the forward section of the ship. credit Harold Burnham

Check the Heavy Lifting post for what it looked like.

New frames forward. credit Harold Burnham

Starboard side new frames forward. credit Harold Burnham

A wonderful accomplishment for 2016 credit Harold Burnham

Thank all of you who have made this possible.  The SEMA board members are working hard and will have exciting news in the New Year.  Consider helping this work to ensure a SAILING future for Ernestina-Morrissey.  Please DONATE.

Your support can make a real difference! Give Today!

2016 has been an exciting year for Ernestina-Morrissey and you can be a part of it!

The title of Chester Brigham’s excellent “biography” of the schooner, Phoenix of the Sea, speaks to the multiple times she has emerged from what looked like her end to begin new chapters in her life story. From fishing vessel, to Arctic explorer, Cape Verdean Packet, to maritime educator, this National Historic Landmark Vessel, Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and part of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park has time and again survived difficult circumstances and flourished. Which leads us to her current situation.

photo credit: Harold Burnham



The thrilling work now on-going at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard is replacing tired wood that has faithfully done its work with new strong timbers.  It’s occurring now because a public/ private partnership has provided $5.3 million dollars of the $6.3 million required to rehabilitate her hull to Coast Guard Ocean Certificate standards.



photo credit: Harold Burnham

Why is this important? It’s important because once Ernestina-Morrissey meets the standards required to receive an Ocean Certificate, Massachusetts Maritime Academy will become her steward; incorporating her into their curricula, having cadets living aboard and sailing her, and continuing to offer summer programing out of New Bedford.

photo credit: Fred Sterner





SEMA has pledged to raise the $1 million remaining required to finish the hull rehabilitation, and your support can make a real difference in this effort! We have just $750,000 left to reach our goal.


Please give as generously as you can and support Ernestina-Morrissey’s latest Phoenix like transition to a new dynamic important life and role.

Join us and others, and be a part of both her historic past and her future. Donate Today!

Thank you,



Julius Britto and the SEMA Board of Directors


Fall in the Shipyard

In September the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard requested an amendment to Ernestina-Morrissey’s rehabilitation contract.  Project Director David Short recommended additional frame and plank replacement in the bow.  The Commission and DCR approved the change and the work has started.

The forward section is still in place but the shipwrights have advised and the Commission has agreed to replace frames in this section and the work has begun.

A new frame being installed under the foredeck which was rehabilitated in 2008-2009 and will stay in place.

One new frame is in place on the new keel and the port section of the next one is resting on the keel ready to be positioned.

Meanwhile, the floor timbers are being fitted to the cant frames at the stern.

Summer’s Over in the Shipyard

Philanthropists Gerry Lenfest and Bob Hildreth viewed the progress on Ernestina-Morrissey’s rehabilitation in August.  Together they have provided $2.8 million toward this project and we thank them for their continued interest in the future of the ship.  Join them, DONATE TODAY!

left to right: Harold Burnham, Bob Hildreth, David Short, Terry McClinch (BHS owner), Gerry Lenfest

DCR’s Harold Burnham and the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard crew explained the work completed so far and demonstrated some of the processes they use as they rebuild Ernestina-Morrissey’s hull.

Here are some videos of the demonstrations:

Patterns from lofting and choosing timbers.

Cutting live oak futtocks

Using the ship saw

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard ship saw

Harold explains to Bob the problems with working with the existing forward framing

l-r front: Diane Hildreth, Gerry Lenfest, Wendy Pearl, (DCR project director), rear: Harold Burnham, Bob Hildreth

At the September Schooner Ernestina Commission meeting Harold and Wendy explained that Boothbay Harbor Shipyard has proposed full replacement of frames forward of Frame #24.  DCR and Harold Burnham considered the proposal and requested a change order for $135,000 and a contract extension to June 2019.  The Commission approved these changes.  Here is the progress report presented at that meeting.

Phase 1 Hull Overhaul

  • Futtocks cut and frames assembled to frame #35
  • Boothbay Harbor has proposed full replacement of frames forward of Frame #24. DCR and Harold Burnham considering proposal and requested change order for $135,000.
  • Boothbay requesting contract extension to June 2019
  • More Danish oak and framing wood delivered
  • Naval architect submitted sketches to USCG
  • Research on tonnage continues
  • Gerry Lenfest and Bob Hildreth (and company) visited the shipyard on 8/30/16 and were pleased with the operation; discussion of Phase 2

Phase 2 Fit Out and Certification

  • Phase 2 scope and rough preliminary developed, shared with SEC, MMA, SEMA; Harold Burnham working to refine scope, specifications and costs, will consult with other experts and MMA
  • Private donors require formal agreement with MMA to take the vessel if they are to be involved in Phase 2 (no funding commitments for Phase 2 were discussed or offered)
  • Need to return to State Pier to complete inventory (DCR, Harold Burnham)

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.

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