ernistina history


1894: Christened Effie Morrissey and launched at the James and Tarr Yard in Essex, MA

1894-1904: Owned and skippered by Clayton Morrissey, fishing out of Gloucester.

1904-1914: Fishing out of Digby Nova Scotia

1914-1925: Hauling freight between Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador

1925: Purchased by Capt Bob Bartlett and used for arctic exploration sailing out of New York City and Brigus Newfoundland

1931: Bartlett snapped off the tip of the bowsprit in an iceberg and instead of replacing the sprit he shorted her rig.

WWII: US Navy survey and supply vessel for Arctic air bases.

1946: Barlett dies.

1946-1948: Barlett estate sells her to two Naval Officers who want to take her to the Caribbean but back at Bermuda and sail to New York City. Galley fire at the dock in NYC and the fire fighting efforts sink her. Raised and brought to Rowayton, CT

1948: Purchased by Capt Henrique Mendes. Renamed Ernestina.

1948-1960s: Used as a packet ship for immigrants and goods between Cape Verde (CV) and New England

1953: Dismasted in CV and then rebuilt 30-40%.

1960s-1970s: Traded goods among CV islands

1976: Tried to sail across the Atlantic to participate in the US Bicentennial celebrations but was dismasted and towed back to CV

1979-81: Refit in CV

1982: Last transatlantic voyage under CV flag-> shortened rig and hull, sand ballast, no engine, carrying
pigs and chickens. She had a mixed volunteer crew of CV and US. Sailed into Newport, RI with Capt. Marcos Lopes and given to the state of Massachusetts as a gift from the people of Cape Verde.

1982: Hauled out at Gloucester Marine Railway in Gloucester, MA

1983-1990: Capt. Dan Morreland took over the refit and got her certified as a sailing school vessel.
After launching in Gloucester without an engine and without topmasts she sailed from Gloucester to
NYC and New Bedford and up to Newfoundland and Greenland

1987: Granted National Landmark Status as well as an award from the National Trust for Historic

1990: Sailing school mission began in earnest and she was homeported in New Bedford, MA. This is when SEMA (non-profit) started

1999 or 2000: Amanda Madeira becomes captain

2010s: Ship was running out of money and in need of repairs and sat at the state pier in New Bedford

2015:Towed out of New Bedford and brought to Boothbay Harbor Shipyard to begin a full rebuild of all
systems, hull, and rig.

2014: Renamed Ernestina-Morrissey

2019: Massachusetts Maritime Academy MOA to take ownership of vessel after refit

2021: Capt. Tiffany Krihwan is hired by Massachusetts Maritime Academy as her captain

2022: Launched from Boothbay Harbor Shipyard (BHSY) after seven year 100% refit



The Effie M. Morrissey launched as part of the Gloucester fishing fleet venturing to the banks of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and off the coast of Gloucester. She was the last ship to be built for the Wonson Fish Company and successfully fished the waters for thirty years bringing in over 200,000 pounds of fish.

In 1926, noted Arctic explorer and experienced Captain Robert A. Bartlett purchased the ship and embarked on two decades of explorations to the Arctic.  These expeditions gathered flowers for the New York Botanical Garden, collected wild fowl for the Museum of Natural History and brought back items for the Smithsonian and the Museum of the American Indian.  In the Second World War, the Effie M. Morrissey entered the US Naval service and was stationed in Greenland. She helped survey the Arctic monitoring for submarines and brought supplies to military bases.  After Captain Robert Bartlett died in 1946, the ship was sold to the Jackson Brothers to be used to carry mail and passengers in an inter-island trade in the South-Pacific. In 1947, while docked in Statten Island, a fire aboard the Morrissey nearly ended her career.


In 1948, Henrique Mendes of the Cape Verde Islands and his sister, Louise Mendes of Egypt, Massachusetts purchased the Morrissey and towed it to New Bedford, Massachusetts, for repairs.  The schooner was renamed Ernestina after Henrique Mendes’ daughter.  The schooner started a new life as a trans-Atlantic packet ship that transported food, passengers and cargo between New England and the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, close to Senegal.  For two decades the Ernestina would make this trans-Atlantic voyage. This voyage became known as the Cape Verdean-American Packet Trade. Ernestina was resold in 1967 and continued the inter-island trade for another six years. In 1976, a Cape Verdean group in Providence requested that the Ernestina be present for the United States Bicentennial celebration.  Cape Verde agreed and prepared the ship for the journey back to the United States.  Unfortunately, due to rough seas and damage to the ship, she never made it to the celebration.



In 1982, the Republic of Cape Verde gave the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Ernestina, “as a gift and symbol of cooperation”.  The Ernestina was one of the last ships built in Essex that brought immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands to the United States.  In 1982, the hull was completely rebuilt in Cape Verde and she sailed to the United States with a Cape Verdean and US crew.