Ernestina-Morrissey nears launch day

Boothbay Harbor Shipyard to hold open house
Sun, 08/29/2021 - 6:00pm

    The restoration of the Ernestina-Morrissey, the future Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) training vessel, is coming down the homestretch at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, according to Bristol Marine Vice President Eric Graves. In spite of COVID-19 work slowdowns, major construction is near completion with a launch estimated for this fall.

    Remaining to be completed are below decks mechanical systems, engine work and accommodations for a maximum crew of 36 MMA students who will train aboard the 156-foot former cod fishing boat, said Graves. 

    “We are in the final phase.” said Graves of the five-year project.

    The schooner’s colorful history includes voyages to the Arctic, shipping cargo and people from Cape Verde to New Bedford and service as a training vessel. It has been rebuilt at different ports and has had several owners before its current dry dock in Boothbay Harbor, according to Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association at

    Shipwright David Short is designing the masts and rigging and the fabrication of two of four 15-foot dories, vital during the cod fishing era. Short said sailmaker Nat Wilson is at work on the mainsail; it will extend for 60 feet at the base.

    The remaining work hinges on funding from the state of Massachusetts. Several non-profit foundations also raise funds to support the project, said Graves. Once ready, the schooner will be subject to Coast Guard inspections and sea trials before being put into service, he said.

    “We also do classic yacht work,” said Short. The 12.5-meter yacht Gleam is partly owned by Bristol Marine President Andy Tyska who bought the shipyard in 2018. The racing boat, similar in design to cup racing yachts, is undergoing minor work at a service dock, said Short.

    The shipyard is planning several open houses including one Thursday, May 27, noon to 5 p.m., another during Windjammer Days in June, and other dates throughout the summer.

    Former office space has been converted to a Heritage Center with photographs, historical  narratives and ship models. In addition to visits to the center, tours will include inspections of the ongoing work aboard the Ernestina-Morrisey, said Graves.