Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Ernestina Logbook Page

Date: Friday, August 24, 2001

Transit Sail New Bedford to Boston

Planned Departure 0500

In the early morning hours around 3:30 am as our Cook, Doralee Zeneberg, was getting up to make breakfast ready for the crew, she spied the F/V Pisces aflame just behind Schooner Ernestina in the slip on the North Face of State Pier. She alerted the Chief Mate Scot Cann, and the Ernestina crew rose to our shipboard fire alarm and put their training and emergency preparedness to the test. The ship's 3-phase generator was fired up and both after hoses were run out to the stern.The 5 HP pumps were engaged, and Ernestina's stern and main boom were cooled down with both hoses. A simultaneous call to 911 brought help quickly, as four Engines from the NBFD responded, as well as Police, USCG and City Officials. The Schooner was warped ahead, further in the slip at Tonnessen Park, in order to get clear of the Heat and Smoke.

Once the fire had started, it was not possible to move Enestina out of the slip; this would expose the vessel and crew to immediate dangers of heat and smoke, as the South wind fanned the flames, and carried them across the slip. Backing the vessel out at that time was not a safe option.

The Photos were taken from the Stern, and Main Rigging of Ernestina.

An oil boom was rigged by the Fire Department ( with the help of our crew) around the North side of the burning vessel. At 0515, the F/V Pisces broke her lines and sank alongside the Pier, leaving only her Pilothouse and Rigging exposed. The fire appeared to be extinguished.

While we were waiting for clearance from the USCG and the NBFD Fire Inspector to depart for Boston, an effort was being made to focus on the cleanup and Salvage of the Vessel.

Suddenly heat from the Pilothouse of the now partially submerged Pisces burst into flame again in a reflash of the fire around 6:05 am. This time it rose 30' in the air and traveled over the water's surface on the film of oil. Schooner Ernestina was threatened with flames at her transom.

The Schooner Ernestina crew used her fire hoses to fend off the flames as the main engine was started, to move the ship all the way into the slip against the Bulkhead, and push the stern as far as possible to the north. The prop wash pushed the flaming oil away in time and finally the fire company shot foam onto the flames to extinguish them once and for all.

This was the closest call Schooner Ernestina had seen for years! The link to the Standard Times Newpaper article is

Finally, in the clearing dawn, we were able to get underway.

Thanks to rapid response by the Ships crew, and The New Bedford Fire Department, and plenty of good fortune, a major disaster was avoided.

Nothing left to do now but..........Keep Ernestina Sailing!!

We made it through the Hurricane Barrier at 0700, and continued motoring towards the Canal while the crew gave the ship a thorough washdown after breakfast. The soot, water and oily residue from the fire had to be scrubbed with lots of Joy and Simple Green.

While transiting the Canal, we set the Fore, and then cleared the East Breakwater into a Northeast Breeze.

We continued motorsailing under the fine sunny skies, and gentle rolling sea. . At Minots Light Boston skyline came into view, Boston Harbor was calm and beautiful, lots of small sailing vessels drifting in and out of President Roads. We struck the foresail off Governers Island, and arrived at Fan Pier around 1815. The courthouse dock where we normally tie up was occupied by a barge with an art exhibit on it. The Institute of Contemporary Art has taken over!

We were able to turn the Schooner around, and tie up starboard side to. All secure. All hands stood down after a long day. The chart to the right shows our track through the day.

This has been a long day for sure....but an exciting moment in the life of the this vessel.

Captain: Willi Bank
Program Coordinator: Crista Mellican

We would like to thank Lotus and IBM for donation of software, hardware and funding to enable regular electronic updates from the ship.

NOAA Chart is provided courtesy of Maptech using Cruising Navigator 4.3 and grabbing the image using Grabit Pro 6.02.

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Copyright 1997-2001
Schooner Ernestina
89 North Water Street, P.O. Box 2010, New Bedford, MA 02741-2010
phone 508.992.4900 -- fax 508.984.7719

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