Navigating American History Since 1894

The historic schooner Ernestina–Morrissey (ex–Effie M. Morrissey / ex–Ernestina) was launched from the tiny shipbuilding hamlet of Essex, Massachusetts, in 1894.

During her long life, she has engaged in several working careers, which, collectively, capture the American story.

From her launch through the mid-1920s, she fished the Grand Banks for both American and Canadian owners.

In 1926, Captain Bob Bartlett of Newfoundland took the schooner, then Effie M.

Morrissey, on an exploring expedition to the Arctic and continued making these types of voyages until 1942, when his ship was needed for the war effort. Between 1942 and 1946,

Bartlett shared command with Commander Alexander Forbes (USN),

Conducting hydrographic work and supplying Arctic naval and air bases. Bartlett died in 1946, and his “little Morrissey” was sold.

After a failed attempt to sail her to the Pacific to engage in inter-island trade and a subsequent fire that severely damaged her interior,

the schooner was sold to a Cape Verdean sea captain who renamed the ship after his daughter, Ernestina.

Ernestina–Morrissey is the last of the Cape Verdean transAtlantic packet ships, having brought immigrants to the US under sail well into the 1960s.

In her fifth career, as a sail training and educational vessel, she has taken people of all ages to sea and visited her old homeports in New England,

Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, reviving those connections and sharing the story of our seafaring heritage.

In her wake, the Ernestina–Morrissey has left an indelible mark on America’s history.

Right now, the storied schooner is in Boothbay Harbor,

Maine, undergoing a complete restoration of her hull; the goal is to qualify for a new US Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection (COI), which will allow her to get underway with passengers and students.

As of this writing, all but $1 million of the projected $6.3 million to complete the restoration has been pledged by a public/private partnership,

With the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association (SEMA) committed to raising the remaining funds. In March 2019,

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Schooner Ernestina Commission,

formed by the state of Massachusetts within the Department of Conservation and Recreation for oversight of the historic schooner, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA).

The agreement calls for the academy to accept stewardship of the historic schooner once she is fully restored and USCG certified,

in which case the Schooner Ernestina–Morrissey Commission will become an official advisor to the president of MMA and give the academy full authority for the vessel,

dockage in New Bedford, and ongoing financial support for maintenance.

The state has also identified several areas of potential usage: adult education,

Corporate ventures and professional development, community outreach and volunteer partnerships,

youth programming, and the two primary components of her mission: providing undergraduate programming, and preserving and interpreting the ship’s Cape Verde heritage.

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