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.

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.

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.

The crew is getting ready to start integrating the new work to what was done in 2008-2009. The start of a square frame has been positioned on the forward section of the keel. You can clearly see how the two futtocks with "hockey stick" ends overlap over the keel and imagine how this makes a very strong structure. This double-sawn frame will be complete when the rest of the futtocks are fastened in place.

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.

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