appeared in The Barnacle, Fairhaven, MA on May 23, 1991:
Bouncing Back After Critical State Audit Report
It has been a rocky road for the Schooner
Ernestina recently with the release of a highly
critical state audit charging mismanagement of funds
and the resignation of the state appointed
More than $260,000 is unaccounted for after
months of investigation by the states auditors
office. The report criticizes the financial practices
of the ships former captain Dan Moreland and
the members of the five-member commission.
Following an emergency meeting on May 10th, the
commission agreed to resign. The move would now clear
the way for a new commission and further state funds.
Most recently the state announced that it would
release $140,000 in funds which was set aside for the
restoration of the Alert to go instead to the
Ernestina. The funds would help offset debts totaling
The ship has been lying idle throughout the
winter months at Kellys Shipyard. The local Sea
Scout Explorers have been maintaining her.
During the audit, the ships crew, captain
and office staff were laid off. Director Joe Cardozo
volunteered his time to continue to maintain the
office. It is expected that another captain and crew
will be hired though it is not known when that will
The New Bedford Standard-Times June 29, 1991:
New Commission to take helm July 5,
by Natalie White.
A new Schooner Ernestina Commission is expected
to be sworn in next week by Gov. William F. Weld. The
new commission will be installed during a ceremony
July 5 aboard the historic state-owned schooner,
whose homeport is New Bedford.
He said the first order of business for the new
commission would be to pay off debts for repair work
to the schooner. The commission must also hire a
captain and crew and raise money to pay off debts for
Joseph Cardozo, who has worked through the
winter as a volunteer director of the schooner, said
the newly formed non-profit Ernestina/Morrissey
Historical Association, Inc. is pleased a new
commission soon will take its place at the helm.
The schooner will sail July 3 from New Bedford
to Boston to join in the annual USS Constitution
The National Trust for Historic Preservation,
the Boston Preservation Alliance and Boston Harbor
Festival chartered the schooner for three days to
raise money for its programs. Those wishing to sail
to Boston or back should contact the National Trust
for Historic Preservation in Boston.
Back in New Bedford July 5, the schooner will
celebrate its recent designation as a national
historic landmark. The ship will be docked at state
pier during the festivities, which will begin at 4pm
and run into the night.
In 1991, Executive Director Joseph Cardozo and Capt.
Doug Nemeth along with many volunteers worked hard to
develop and secure programmatic use of the ship. They
were very successful at turning the tide and shifting the
focus of the commission and ship staff onto structured
education programs and use of the schooner as a teaching
and learning platform.
|Former Commission Chairman
Fred Littleton who sailed with Bartlett into the Arctic in
1940 built a scale model of the Ernestina ex-Effie M.
Morrissey. He's out sailing in company with the larger version
in July 1991.
|Fred lives in Chilmark on
Marthas Vineyard and has been the Menemsha Harbor Master for
some years. His "Little Morrissey" was donated to
the Essex Shilbuilding Museum in the mid-1990s.
June through September 1991 Shipboard Staff
Willi Bank, Engineer
Karl Prosser, Mate
Larry Pina, Steward
Georgiana Solls, Deckhand
Marty Casey, Deckhand
Sarah Gruber, Deckhand/Steward
David Jacques, Deckhand
Russell Soiris, Deckhand
Susan Scherer, Deckhand
John Harrer, Deckhand
Daryl Shergin, Deckhand
Mark Robinson, Steward
After a remarkably active 1991 sailing season
including sails with the USS Constitution, multi-day
summer programs with schools and the Gloucester Schooner
Race, the ship went into the yard at Gloucester Marine
Railways on Harbor Loop for an annual haulout. During this time a new
refrigeration system, desalinator, single sideband radio,
depth sounder and central alarm system were installed in
the ship making ready for long distance voyaging along
with a new propeller and general U.S. Coast Guard
inspection. The image to the right shows a copper grounding plate
for the SSB radio going on just aft of the transducer for the depth
In fall 1991, an ambitious plan was conceived to
thrust Ernestina back into an active new career as
ambassador and educator. With Gregg Swanzey aboard as
captain, the ship sailed with 24 trainees, three women
and 21 men, on a six-month transatlantic voyage with
planned stops in Bermuda, Azores, Portugal, Cape Verde,
Barbados and back to New Bedford via the Caribbean.
for six-month JTEC Sail
Esther Kennedy, Program
David Bank, Chief
Brad Anderson, Second
Nancy Bernstein, Third
Denise Garzon, AB
Alexandra DeSteigeur, Deckhand
Tara McCabe, Deckhand
Willi Bank, Engineer
Mark Robinson, Steward
Dr. William Bank, Doctor
The program was funded by a $140,000 grant from Job
Training and Employment Corporation, Inc. (JTEC) as well
as smaller grants and donations from other sources. The
apprentices were aboard to learn marine skills and put in
sailing time, making them eligible to take the Coast
Guard able-bodied seaman exam.
A ceremony was held on the New Bedford waterfront on
Saturday, October 19, 1991 featuring brief speeches by
Mayor John Bullard, JTEC executive director, Kristine
Dower, Schooner Ernestina commissioner Fred
Littleton and Rep. Gerry Studds aid, Kevin Gallagher.
Flags, well wishes and communiqués were given to Capt.
Gregg Swanzey to be carried to each of the planned ports
An article in the New Bedford Standard-Times on
Friday, October 25, 1991 describes the departure on the
Ernestina sails after
insurance dispute is settled, by Natalie
Bourne - The Schooner Ernestina set sail
overnight for a six-month training trip that will
take the ship back to Cape Verde.
Questions about insurance and labor laws nearly
canceled the trip, but in the end the problems only
delayed its departure.
The state-owned schooner has been scheduled to
leave from New Bedford Saturday for its first
stopover in Bermuda, but instead was only allowed to
sail to Marthas Vineyard and then dock at
Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.
The Job Training and Employment Corporation of
New Bedford, which is sponsoring the trip with a
$140,000 grant, cleared the way for the trip
Wednesday when board members voted to pay for half of
a $48,000 liability insurance bill. Initially,
organizers hoped the state would pick up the full
tab, but the state Department of Environmental
Management could come up with only half.
Schooner Ernestina departed for St. Georges,
Bermuda at midnight on Friday, October 25, 1991. The
voyage started with light winds and unusually warm
weather but that was to change within two days.
The Perfect Storm, described in a book by
Sebastian Junger, rose off the New England shore two days
after Schooner Ernestina departed New England
coastal waters for offshore. Excerpts from the logbook
0300 Transit Quicks' Hole
under power with good visibility, mild temperatures and
2300 Continue motoring
SxE1/4E, position 39°
calm, clear, mild night.
The chart above shows Ernestina's track in red with
dates next to noontime positions, West Wall of the Gulf Stream in blue
and warm eddies in light blue.
0300 Water temperature
rising rapidly from 67°
at 0100 to 75°
F at position 39°
32W as we continue steering due South for St.
Georges, Bermuda. We are passing through the Gulf Stream!
1330 Begin setting all
sail with instruction for all aboard. Set main, fore,
jumbo, jib; stop engine and sail steering SxE1/4E. Ship
both anchors and lash all boxes and gear, batten some
hatches, prepare ship for possible wind developing from
gale center at 32°
N65° W due to
move to 34° N66° W at 1200 Monday and
out of the waters by Tuesday.
1930 Motoring under fore
and jumbo steering South. Swell building, wind still
light, clear skies. Prepare storm trys'l for setting.
2100 Set trys'l, main
engine secured. Alter course to SxW, position 37° 36Nx68° 18W, to give more
room to gale center. Wind NE'ly Force 2-3.
0700 Sailing on a port
tack with trys'l, fore and jumbo steering SW, wind ExN,
force 5, cumulus clouds building, occasional sprinkle.
1330 Strike storm trys'l,
gybe to WNW on starboard tack, reset trys'l, position 36° 29Nx68° 58W. The Gale is
deepening and is not turning as predicted. We turn toward
the west for more searoom on the gale without returning
into the Gulf Stream where seas would be accentuated in a
building NE'ly gale.
1900 The gale center has
risen to wind speeds of a hurricane and has been named
Hurricane Grace's track is in green as Ernestina moves
west and south past Cape Hatteras
0700 We continue steering
toward the west and Cape Hatteras to avoid 'Grace.' The
hurricane is still tracking toward us on a NW'ly track
but is expected to turn and pass off to the East.
1330 The wind is rising
rapidly now to NE'ly Force 8 as we strike the foresail
and main trys'l and set a trys'l on the foremast with the
jumbo set forward. We gybe to a port tack now to steer
South parallel to the VA/NC coast 200 miles ENE Cape
Hattaras. We cannot get pushed back into the Gulf Stream!
1800 We strike the Main
Trys'l and sail under Fore Trys'l and Jumbo alone
steering a SW'ly course and hear the response by US Coast
Guard to a distress call from the Schooner Anne Khristine
100 miles to windward of us. Our position is 35° 50'Nx72° 40W.
2300 We continue on a S'ly
course with frequent boarding by 25 - 30' seas in a NE'ly
Force 9 wind. 'Grace' continues to track to the NW toward
0715 We are continuing
parallel to the coast on a SSE'ly course 180 miles SE of
Cape Hattaras now in Force 9 winds with signs of
moderation. 'Grace' has just been reported to turn on the
USCG weather report by single sideband radio.
2200 We continue SSE with
winds beginning to moderate finally! A report comes
through describing a low-pressure system crossing Quebec
and combining with Hurricane 'Grace' with a retrograde to
the west and rebuilding of wind and seas. We call by
single sideband and decide we must abandon the plan of
stopping in Bermuda and instead divert toward San Juan,
2315 We hear another
distress call coming over the radio re: the Sloop
'Satori' We are farther to the south and much too far
away to leeward to assist in any way.
0700 We continue on a
SSE'ly course toward Puerto Rico with the seas still very
high but the wind continuing to moderate. Position 32° Nx71° 10W.
2300 The wind has
moderated as we pass further south. We find the main
engine 'stuffed' by salt water (the cylinder heads are
full of salt water) as we attempt to start the engine.
The extremely large seas of the past days forced their
way past the vertical loop [designed to keep water out]
in the exhaust system into the engine block. We are
forced to begin taking the manifolds and valve covers off
to begin the process of barring over the engine and
forcing water out, reassembling and hoping for it to
start again. Meanwhile, the seas continue to roll the
ship hard with less and less wind to dampen the roll or
move us along toward our destination.
1300 We continue to work
on the main engine with winds NW'ly Force 5 and
continuing seas. We are 200 miles SW of Bermuda and at
least five days away from Puerto Rico.
1900 Winds have dropped to
W'ly at Force 2. Skies have cleared but seas are still
high. Rolling continues relentlessly.
0650 The main engine
starts and we run at ¾ speed steering SSE'ly for Puerto
Rico with Bermuda 250 miles behind us and our destination
600 miles away.
2100 We lay at anchor in
anchorage 'D' off Club Nautico, San Juan, Puerto Rico!
An article appeared in the New Bedford Standard-Times
on November 13, 1991:
Cancel Cape Verde voyage, Ernestina
captain says, by Natalie White
New Bedford - The captain of the Schooner
Ernestina is recommending canceling plans to sail
across the Atlantic to Cape Verde, and instead have
the ship winter in the Caribbean.
Because the schooner had a late start, and had
to change its itinerary when it met the fringes of
Hurricane Grace a few weeks ago, the best time to
cross the Atlantic has passed, Capt. Gregg Swanzey
said Tuesday in a telephone interview from San Juan,
Joseph Cardozo, executive director of the
Schooner Ernestina Commission, said personality and
other problems arise aboard ship just as they do
ashore. "All ships are just a microcosm of our
society, and reflective of our society and some of
the problems we have," he said. "The
primary goal of the program is still being met. That
is sea training for those who want to become
On December 21, 1991 the apprentice seamanship program
was discontinued as a result of underfunding after the
departure of eight trainees in Puerto Rico. The remaining
trainees loaded into taxis in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
and made their way across the island to the airport near
St. Johns, the capital of Antigua. Immediately the
captain and crew of the schooner got underway for St.
Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to discuss the
strategy for getting Ernestina home from a port of
refuge in U.S. waters.
After several weeks of discussions between the
Ernestina crew, Schooner Ernestina Commission and the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management, an
agreement was formed, funding was wired for essentials
and the ship got underway for Miami, Florida. By early
February 1992 Schooner Ernestina lay at Dodge
Island at a safe berth with Mark C. Robinson as caretaker aboard and the
captain and crew were released. Another crew was to be
assembled to bring the Ernestina north back to her
homeport several months later in the spring.