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.

New Year in the Shipyard

There is more than the work on Ernestina-Morrissey that is new in Boothbay Harbor as 2018 begins.  Andy Tyska, president of Rhode Island-based Bristol Marine, has announced the acquisition of Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, now called “The Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor”.  Tyska said “… I know that Eric (Graves, vice-president) together with the yard’s talented shipwrights and skilled workers, will build on … past success and effect improvements ….”

Bristol Marine has posted a great video on their Facebook Page taken about a month after the photos below.  You can see many more stanchions are in.

SEMA director Captain Willi Bank visited the yard in early January and sent along these photos that show the sheer restored and other details and progress of the Phase 1 work.

From the port quarter looking toward the bow you can see Ernestina-Morrissey will have her historic sheer back.

Sheer (line) is a term to describe the curve upward toward the bow and stern of a vessel's main deck. You can see in this photo of Ernestina-Morrissey in the Canal on the way to BHS in April 2015 how flat the line of her stern is. With the reconstructed stern, the boat will again have the traditional sheer of an 1894 Essex schooner.

Here's what Effie M. Morrissey looked like just before she headed out for her first trip to the Banks, 6 weeks after she was launched. You can compare this with the photo above. The bow's sheer was restored during the 2008-09 work.

You can see the condition of her stern when they started work in 2015  here.

On the far right of the first photo above you can see some of the transom framing.  The next photo is from the starboard side of the transom looking forward.

The gray vertical timbers on the center-left are the rudder and stern post. Running along the inside of the frames from the transom forward is the sheer shelf installed above the sheer clamp on the port and starboard sides.

The foredeck provides a different view of the sheer clamps looking aft.

Besides the sheer clamps along the top of the frame you can see the stringers which add stability to the frame. There is a lot of temporary structure here, including the staging, the horizontal supports, and the plywood "sole" over the floor timbers.

A look from midships gives another perspective.

Looking to the port side, the deck beam on the right is at the break in the deck. The top-timbers or stanchions which will support the bulwarks are going in between the frame ends, fastened to the sheer clamp. Again, you can see the stringers. You can also see the bronze bolts which hold the sheer shelf structure together.

Tom is working on the starboard side forward.

As you can see the stanchions are trunnel fastened. The holes in the frames, which will be bunged, are where the bronze bolts hold the frames to the sheer clamp. The trunnels, now proud. will be chiseled level with the surface of the stanchion.

Take a close look at the laminated keelson. The bronze nuts are weathering in the damp, frosty weather. These nuts top the the bronze rod keelbolts, which in this case go from the top of the keelson down through the "hockey stick" ends of the two overlapping futtocks then through the oak keel timber and depending on the position, the lead ballast-keel. On the left and right, on top of the keelson you can see a floor timber topped by temporary plywood. Here the keelbolts go through the floor timbers as well as the rest of the structures. There are two keelbolts for each frame one through each futtock.

Follow this link to This photo from 2016 showing the “hockey stick” ends of the two overlapping futtocks.

Here you can see the oak keel with the lead ballast-keel inserted for part of its length.

Forward, under the foredeck, these large timbers bolted on either side of the keelson are bolsters for the foremast step.

People ask “Is there any old wood left?” The photo below shows the African hardwood stem, installed in Cape Verde, expertly scarfed with new oak by BHS shipwrights. I think it’s beautiful and represents the ongoing evolution of Ernestina-Morrissey“The Phoenix of the Seas”

And finally, here is her original registration number assigned in 1894 when Ernestina-Morrissey was launched from Essex, Massachusetts to fish for the J.F. Wonson and Co.

Although the vessel was under different registries during her many lives, Julius Britto worked with Representative Gerry Studds to authenticate her Essex Massachusetts heritage and with an Act of Congress the original registration number was restored to the then Ernestina in 1982.


You can review all the posts about the Rehabilitation Project HERE.


You can join the crew supporting this amazing project. DONATE TODAY!

2017: A Year in Review

Thank you Peter Pereira for your great photos! See the SouthCoastTODAY article .Copyright 2017, Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

March 2017: The crew works to construct the laminated keelson. The double sawn timber frames are fastened with wooden trunnels and silicon bronze bolts.

photo credit: Fred Sterner

By October there has been much progress on the hull. Here workers are fairing frames for the next course of internal planks, “stringers”, which strengthen and stabilize the hull. Copyright 2017, Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times

The view from under existing foredeck looking aft showing the double sawn Danish and live oak frames and the newly installed horizontal “stringers”. Copyright 2017, Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times

Looking aft you see the great progress made since March. Keelson, clamps and stringers are complete and once the deck framing is in place the work on the deck will start. Copyright 2017, Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times

Welcome Aboard, Robin Shields!

Robin Sheilds here with son Ben, husband Tim and daughter Abby!!!

SEMA is pleased to announce that Robin Shields has joined their staff as a fundraising consultant.

Robin joins the crew following a successful stint as the Executive Director of the Sippican Lands Trust in Marion, MA.  She brings with her expertise in fundraising, educational programming and community engagement.

A New Englander her entire life, Robin and her family moved back to Marion five years ago. Both a Tabor Academy and a Dartmouth College graduate, she is an avid sailor and can often be found on Buzzards Bay with her family aboard their sailboat “Meltemi.” Robin worked for Maine’s Hurricane Island Outward Bound School for many years as a sailing instructor and during that time received her 100 ton Coast Guard License.  In addition, she got a Masters in Marine Policy at the University of Rhode Island and worked as part of the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s water quality monitoring program.

Robin is excited to join SEMA and undertake her goal to help raise the monies needed to complete the ongoing restoration campaign for the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey. “The vessel has an incredible history; a great story to tell,” she said.  “As the official Vessel of Massachusetts, the Ernestina-Morrissey will undoubtedly have a positive impact on many more generations to come as a sail training vessel and an educational connection to the waters of Buzzards Bay and beyond.  I am honored to play a small part of her story”, Shields said.

A Visit to the Shipyard


Here workers are fairing frames for the next course of internal planks stringers which strengthen and stabilize the hull. [Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times/SCMG

In October Steve Urbon and Peter Pereira from the New Bedford Standard Times/SouthCoast Today visited Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.  Their report “Historic Schooner Gets New Lease on Life” was published on October 28.  Be sure you look at all of Peter’s photos in the slide show when you follow the link.  What a great article!  Thank you!

We Are Cabo Verde Gala Held in Boston

SEMA Director Mike Gomes and Cape Verde Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva

Schooner Ernestina Commission chair Licy DoCanto was a keynote speaker at the We Are Cabo Verde Gala in Boston on September 30, featuring both the President Jorge Carlos Fonseca and Cape Verde Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva along with elected officials and community leaders and others from across New England. DoCanto’s remarks highlighted the important work of the Commission, and the efforts being made by many in the public and private sectors in support of the Schooner, and was followed by a video of the Schooner.

Thank you, Governor Baker!

(L to R) Commission chair Licy DoCanto, Cape Verde Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva, and Governor Charlie Baker

During a recent visit,  Schooner Ernestina Commission chair Licy DoCanto and  Cape Verde Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva, presented a framed print, by New Bedford artist Arthur Moniz, of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. The print was engraved with the following inscription: “To Governor Charlie Baker and the People of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, We Thank You for your Unwavering Commitment and Support for the Beloved Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey – With Gratitude from The Republic of Cabo Verde and the Massachusetts Schooner Ernestina Commission”

Thank you Gene Monteiro

After two terms as a member of the Schooner Ernestina Commission, Gene Montiero fulfilled his last duty as
Master of Ceremonies of the “Celebrating Ernestina-Morrissey” Gala.  Gene’s broad connections to the SouthCoast and all of its communities served the Commission well as support for the vessel was cultivated and planning began for her future.   Those six years were so important to setting this course to the future that the vessel is now on.
SEMA looks forward to Gene’s help and participation in our role as an advocate supporter of Ernestina-Morrissey.

“We are getting a SUPERIOR SHIP”

SEMA President Julius Britto visited Boothbay Harbor Shipyard this week to view the progress and confer with Harold Burnham and David Short.  His response?  ”We are getting a SUPERIOR SHIP when ERNESTINA-MORRISSEY leaves Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.”

The floors are all in and a temporary platform will provide a work surface.

Installing the stringers and clamps is next

Sandra and Julius Britto excited to see the progress on Ernestina-Morrissey

Julius expressed gratitude for everyone’s hard work.

Terrific Prizes for Raffle June 9!

Even if you can’t attend our celebration on June 9, you can have a chance to win these terrific prizes.  They will be raffled off on the evening of June 9 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  The tickets are $10.00 each or 3 for $20.00.  You can get tickets by online using the DONATE BUTTON and  ordering your tickets securely.  Just make a note in the”special instructions” box that your donation is for raffle tickets for June 9.

First prize

Framed Arthur Moniz print “Ernestina by Palmers Island” 33”x 26”

Winner ! Jan daSilva

Artist Arthur Moniz has been painting the beauty of the historic maritime coastal communities for over 35 years. Visit his gallery at 22 William St. New Bedford.

Second Prize

Adirondack-type chair built by Karl Pastore, DCR representative on the Schooner Ernestina Commission.  The chair is made of wood from Ernestina-Morrissey’s foremast which carried her foresail from 1994-2014.

Winner ! Julius Britto

Third Prize

Public Sail for four on Schooner Ardelle and “The Shipwright and the Schooner” by Harold Burnham.  Sail Gloucester Harbor with Capt. Burnham and hear about the work progressing on Ernestina-Morrissey.

Winner ! Nicole M. P.

Fourth Prize

Arthur Moniz print “Ernestina Outward Bound” 28”x 15.5”

Winner ! Dagny Ashley

Artist Arthur Moniz has been painting the beauty of the historic maritime coastal communities for over 35 years.  Visit his gallery at 22 William St. New Bedford.

If you want to do more we have added a “Crew” sponsorship.  Your $100 sponsorship will recognize all the work of individuals whose efforts made it possible for us to Celebrate Ernestina-Morrissey on June 9.  AND your donation will be matched 1:1 by the Manton Foundation.  Just use the donate button. and enter Crew Sponsorship in the “special instructions” box.

Honoring the Past, Supporting the Future

The celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the return of Ernestina-Morrissey to

The Ernestina Committee consisting of Armando Perry, Cecelia Monte, Laura Pires-Hester, Eddie Andrade, Joe Monte, Luis Fernandes, and American Ambassador Melissa Wells meeting Cape Verdean Ambassador Amaro daLuz at the United Nations

Massachusetts (TICKETS HERE) will include recognition of five individuals who were part of the early efforts of repatriation and who continued to support the ship through the years.    Hundreds of people rallied to support Ernestina in the 1970’s. The effort to return Ernestina to the United States began in earnest after the Cape Verdeans won independence in 1975.  The Cape Verdean-American Ethnic Heritage Committee in Providence made the first proposals to the new government and was joined by the “Save the Morrissey” campaign.  In 1976, the Friends of Ernestina/Morrissey Committee lead by Laura Pires Houston was officially launched in New York. Chapters in the United States, particularly in southern New England, New York and Philadelphia, raised money and procured material and expertise for the Ernestina project.   The rest is history!

For more information check out the timeline or get a copy of Phoenix of the Seas.

Join us June 9, 2017 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum as we Celebrate Ernestina-Morrissey. Get your tickets TODAY! to celebrate the contributions of these five individuals:

Julius Britto was active in the National Friends of Ernestina/Morrissey as a charter member (Wareham/Cape Cod Chapter). He was appointed to the First Commission and served as chairman.  In 1982, he was chosen as executive director of Ernestina-Morrissey Historical Association.  He served on the Schooner Ernestina Commission Finance Committee in 2008 and is a charter member of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc., currently serving as president.

Representative Thomas D. Lopes sponsored the legislation establishing the Schooner Ernestina Commission in 1978.  He was very active telling Ernestina’s story and engaging supporters through Cape Verdean News. Tom visited Cape Verde with CVN cable to record the work on Ernestina and her departure.  He later produced the film “Mystery Lady” from his Cape Verdean footage.  As the internet came into popular use he shared his videos on his video channel.  Tom was still documenting Ernestina in at the 2010 Forum and in December 2011 video-recording the masts being removed and producing YouTube videos on his channel.  He was a true advocate of Ernestina until his death.

Laura Pires-Hester, Ph D met Michael Platzer and became involved with the idea of repatriation in 1974.  She was founder and first chair of National Friends of Ernestina/Morrissey. She became president of Ernestina Morrissey Historical Association. Laura and Michael Platzer wrote a commemorative edition of a history “Ernestina—Effie M. Morrissey” in 1982 to celebrate the repatriation.  Appointed to the Schooner Ernestina Commission 2007, she organized celebration of 25th anniversary of repatriation and organized a Forum in 2010 to gather all Ernestina’ constituencies. Again, with Michael Platzer, she presented at the Sailor Series at Whaling Museum in 2011.  A Commissioner since 2007, she was elected Chair in 2010 and served until May 2017.

Michael K. H. Platzer was involved with the idea of repatriation before Cape Verdean independence who worked in the Office of Technical Assistance, United Nations, Cape Verde desk.  National Friends of Ernestina/Morrissey charter member.  Michael and the then Laura Pires-Houston wrote a commemorative edition of a history “Ernestina—Effie M. Morrissey” in 1982 to celebrate the repatriation Again, with Laura, he presented at the Sailor Series at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in 2011.

Margaret D. Xifaras, as Senior Advisor was assigned by Governor Dukakis to work with the new Schooner Ernestina Commission. She worked with Julius, chair of the Commission, on plans to return Ernestina to New Bedford. Her liaison work invaluable as the Commission worked with the state government as well as the Cape Verdean government and Representative Gerry Studds in the US Congress.  Most recently she has helped SEMA and Commission, communicating with the Patrick administration.  She also has rounded up work crews to volunteer on Ernestina during “Lend a Hand” Day with the National Park.


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