African Hardwoods

Why are there African hardwoods in a ship built in Essex, Massachusetts in 1894?

Knees holding up the deck beams overhead.

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, at the end of their usefulness to U.S. owners, were bought by Cape Verdeans like

This is a knee taken from the Ernestina-Morrissey during reconstruction at Bristol Marine’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.

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’s structure, originally built in Essex of American oak and pine, came to include tropical hardwoods.

Now some of that wood has been made into keepsake pens and when you make a donation to Ernestina Sailing Forward your name may be randomly chosen to receive one of ten available pens.