Ernestina made no trips between Cape Verde and New
England between 1959 and 1963, but on September 3, 1964
she reappeared off Point Judith, RI under the command of
Capt. Alexander Fortes, 33 of Sao Vicente. A pilot boat
was dispatched to bring her to Municipal Wharf in
Providence. There were no passengers, and the only cargo
was 215 pounds of tobacco and gifts of dried beans and
Hundreds of sightseers and Cape Verdean families rushed to the dock to welcome this strange apparition from an era gone by. U.S. Customs officials sealed the gifts, for the group of over 50 welcomers overwhelmed the ship. For the next few weeks, the Ernestina was the site of a daily party.
Stories were exchanged and spontaneous music emanated from the vessel. "The captain climbs to the ship's wheel with his clarinet and other musicians form a circle. There's Pedro Canto, Domingo Nunes, Eugene Santos and Anildo Pires. They are joined by Manuel Texeira and Edwin Veira. The Spanish guitar and Portuguese guitar blend. The tambourine joins in. The sailors play seriously, with a sort of devotion. These men, sailors, fishermen, sing of the turbulent seas, of the big fishes that swim there, of the great city of steel and concrete at the other end of the world called Providence, of the great welcome they are receiving and of their former countrymen who have found a new life in America." - "Like a Glimpse of the Isles" by George Popkin in Ships 9/19/64
The people from Providence brought gifts for the crew and for relatives to be taken to the islands.
Upon departure from Providence for Cape Verde, the engine broke down off Bristol, RI and Ernestina ran aground on September 16, 1964. Ernestina was towed to Norlantic Diesel in Fairhaven where a rebuilt Cummins 180 horsepower diesel engine was installed.
RIC Loads Ernestina With Gifts - 10/24/64
Crew aboard Ernestina include Capt. Alexander Fortes, Domingoes F. Nunes, Anildo F. Pires, Manuel S. Fernandes, Hilario Dos Santos, Eugenio D. Lopes with Pedro DoCanto Tavares remaining behind on the next voyage with a broken leg suffered in a car accident.
Ernestina left New Bedford November 27, 1964 and arrived in Praia 35 days later on New Years Day. The voyage back to Cape Verde was a rough one with most of the deck cargo lost during the passage. All ten crew members were reported in good condition. You can read about Capt. Fortes voyages on a page written by his granddaughters... click here.
Ernestina returned once more to Providence in 1965, suffering clutch problems and was taken to New Bedford for repairs and to be checked over. Capt. Alexander Fortes was the captain for these last two voyages to the United States.
The photos on this page were donated by Catherine Tegu of Providence in memory of Professor T. Steven Tegu in December 2001. Professor Tegu taught Portuguese at Rhode Island College. Many thanks for Janine Tegu's help. Look down below to see Janine's brothers and sister on the foredeck of Ernestina in 1964.
Eugenio D. Lopes
Hilario Dos Santos, cook
Peter, Andriana and Steven Tegu