A Sea Chanty being filmed by New England Boating TV. Photos/NEB, Tom Richardson.

If you’re interested in maritime history, consider a visit to the Ernestina, a former Grand Banks fishing schooner and ocean explorer that currently resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The Ernestina at the dock.

The Ernestina at the New Bedford State Pier.

The 156′ Ernestina—formerly the Effie M. Morrissey—was built in 1894 at the James & Tarr Shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts, for the Gloucester fishing fleet, at a cost of $16,000. After fishing the Grand Banks for many years, the ship was purchased in 1926 by Captain Bob Bartlett, who sailed her to within 600 miles of the North Pole in 1940. After serving a stint in the Navy during World War II and suffering a fire in New York City, the vessel was purchased by Captain Henrique Mendes in 1948. Mendes renamed the ship Ernestina after his daughter, and used it to transport immigrants and goods to and from the Cape Verde Islands until 1965. Following years of service as an inter-island ferry/freighter in Cape Verde, the Ernestina was restored and returned to the U.S. in 1982 as a gift from the newly independent country of Cape Verde. She actively sailed as an educational vessel until 2005.

Detail of the propeller.

Detail of the propeller and rudder during haul-out at Fairhaven Shipyard, 2012.

Managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, the Ernestina is berthed on the south side of New Bedford State Pier, and can be easily seen from Coast Guard Park (near 194 MacArthur Drive, New Bedford). Boaters can visit the ship Wednesday through Saturday by grabbing a free day mooring in New Bedford Harbor and either taking their dinghy to the dinghy dock adjacent to the Ernestina, or hailing a ride from Whaling City Launch on VHF Channel 72.

Note: The Ernestina is scheduled to undergo an extensive 2-year restoration in Maine beginning in winter 2014-15. During this time she will be unavailable for viewing.

You can learn more about the Ernestina by watching the accompanying video.


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