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.

Ernestina-Morrissey’s Stern

Schooner Ernestina Commissioner Fred Sterner observed that the stern seems the most obvious problem area to be addressed during the current project to restore the ship's hull.

Fred visited Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in mid-November, 2015.  These photographs were taken then.

You can see that this structure could not safely withstand the forces of the main sheet tackle on the boom buffer.

The boom buffer, in the center of the transom, below the rail, absorbs the shock when the ship jibes.

Here is a photo from 1977 when this structure was rebuilt in Cape Verde prior to the ship's return to the US as a gift from Cape Verde. There is no deck structure yet but you can see the transom and the sternpost.

Here's a long view.

Here's what it looked like in Cape Verde, 1979.

You can read about the efforts to repatriate the Ernestina-Morrissey from 1972-1982 by clicking the dates on the left of the timeline.

By mid-December, 2015, the cover over the ship was complete and as you can see the transom has been removed.

photo credit: Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

The transom in gone, the quarter-bits stand out against the horizon. photo credit: Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

The boom-buffer, along with other equipment has been safely stored at the shipyard and will be re-installed on the ship.  Did you know that boom buffers were invented by Jacob Edson?   “Jacob Edson formed Edson Corp. to design and manufacture specialty hardware for the commercial marine trade. He invented the diaphragm pump the year the company was formed, and other early inventions included a “boom buffer” to reduce the shock when a sailboat jibes, along with hardware and steering systems for the great Boston area fishing fleets, coastal schooners and cargo vessels.”

We’re not sure if this boom buffer is an Edson design, ( a New Bedford company) but we do know that the two one-gallon-a-stroke bilge pumps are Edson pumps.


“Lofting is a drafting technique (sometimes using mathematical tables) whereby curved lines are generated, to be used in plans for streamlined objects such as aircraft and boats.”

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard is lofting the Ernestina-Morrissey to bring her closer to her original faired lines and over all shape. To do this they are using a blend of historic photographs and lines taken in 2008,  2015, and some preserved at Mystic Seaport, which were drawn by Southmayd Hatch & Thomas A. Soyster at Staten Island, NY in April 1931

A lofting table has been set up inside to lay out the ship's plans.

Lines are drawn on the lofting table using the table of offsets. The intersection points are marked, in this case with ice picks, then a flexible batten is bent along the line formed. The batten's shape is used to draw the curve on the table. This curve represents the full-sized shape of the hull at one frame

A pattern will be made from this curve which will be used to insure each of the futtocks, that together form the ship's frames, will be the correct shape.

There are more photos in the Flickr Album.

You can help us with your DONATION to make sure Ernestina-Morrissey sails again.

Frames and Fastenings

It is surprising, even startling,  the first time you see the ship with the whole aft deck off.  But then you remember this is what has to happen for the ship to return to sailing again.

You notice the mass of the deck beams and lodging knees that supported the deck,  just amazing!  Then you notice all the stubs of fastenings.

They don’t all seem the same.

Then you remember the history of these fastenings, when this structure was new.

This photo was taken in Cape Verde in 1979 when the ship was being prepared for it's return to the United States as a gift from the Republic of Cape Verde

The promise to return the Ernestina to the United States was a huge commitment from Cape Verde,  this small island country, newly independent from Portugal.  They worked hard and sacrificed and received donations from supporters.  Some of the fastenings were donated by Tremont Nail Company.  SEMA President Julius Britto who was a member of the first Schooner Ernestina Commission recollects “In about 1978 or 79 I was able to get some of the last few square cut nails from the Tremont Nail Factory. As best that I can recall I stopped by the factory. An older gentlemen at the factory found a half dozen boxes of large square nails in wooden boxes.  When I told him what we would be using them for in Cape Verde he donated them.” And some of the fastenings used were fabricated in Cape Verde.

You can see the fastening, center right, is clearly one of those fabricated from re-rod in Cape Verde. Check the link above for more information.

When you see this you think of all the craftspeople who have worked on the ship over the years from the original shipwrights who built the Effie M. Morrissey in the James and Tarr yard in Essex, then of the greenheart sheath and other modifications Captain Bartlett made to transform the ship into an Arctic expedition vessel.  Then as Ernestina, the continued work of Captain Henrique Mendes to “keep her going” and the work by the Cape Verdean People preparing their gift to the US.   Once in Massachusetts, the work to bring the ship to US Coast Guard certification lead by Captain Dan Moreland and the Schooner Ernestina Commission, and  always haulouts for continued maintenance through 2004.

Now the ship is being readied for “the rest of the story”  or at least the next chapter of the remarkable story of this amazing vessel Ernestina-Morrissey.

There are more photos in the Flickr Album.

You can help us with your DONATION to make sure Ernestina-Morrissey sails again.

Heavy Lifting

Ernestina-Morrissey’s bow, fore-deck and stem were renewed during the 2008-2009 work funded by a grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures Program matched by Massachusetts DCR and private donors.  That work must be supported during this project’s keel work.

An I-beam was inserted through the forepeak.

The I-beam is supported on either side by another beam with a jack for leveling.

This photo was in July taken before the I-beam was inserted. It clearly shows the new stem from 2008-2009.

You can just see the I-beam just aft of the stem at the very top of the photo.

Here is the new 2008-2009 foredeck being put to good use. The covers are off the hatches to allow good ventilation in the bow area.

There are more photos in the Flickr Album.

You can help us with your DONATION to make sure Ernestina-Morrissey sails again.

David Short Onboard

Fred Sterner and David Short

David Short has been hired by Boothbay Harbor Shipyard as Project Manager for the Ernestina-Morrissey hull reconstruction.  David comes with wide experience working with historic wooden ships such as Lettie G. Howard and Roseway.  Schooner Ernestina Commissioner Fred Sterner met with him recently at the shipyard to discuss the project.

He told Fred it’s great to see all the wood that has been purchased and is seasoning.  ”You know this is going to be done right”

There are more photos in the Flickr Album.

You can help us with your DONATION to make sure Ernestina-Morrissey sails again.

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

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