Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Arctic Explorer on the Ways

While researching for a video on the Ernestina, I discovered that the ship getting its bow replaced, sitting on our Boothbay Harbor Shipyard marine railway has a rich history and amazing stories to tell.

The Ernestina is one of only two sailing Arctic exploration vessels left afloat in the United States, the other being the schooner Bowdoin, also a National Historic Landmark. After a long and distinguished fishing and cargo-carrying career, Effie M. Morrissey (Ernestina) was purchased in 1926 by Capt. Robert A. Bartlett, Canadian-born Arctic explorer and captain for Robert E. Peary.

Seventeen years earlier, Bartlett navigated Peary and Matthew Henson to the North Pole in 1909, on the Roosevelt and was considered the greatest ice captain of the 20th century. After 1924, under Capt. Bob Bartlett, Ernestina or known at that time as "the little Morrissey" made 20 regular voyages north. On one voyage they reached within 600 miles of the Pole. They documented the frozen north and its flora and fauna. Its patrons included the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the American Indian, and others.

Star of Pathe newsreels and David Putnam's adventures for boys, David Goes to Greenland and David Goes to Baffin Land, spread the name and fame of this revered captain and his schooner. Cap'n Bob and Morrissey, were as famous to the generation of the 1920s and 30s as Jacques Cousteau and Calypso were to the generation of the 1960s and 70s. They were heroes of adventure along with their ships.

If you look at some of the "Newsreels" on the British Pathe website, you can see actual footage of Capt. Bob on the Morrissey around 1934. Included is footage of him battling storms and icebergs among many other adventures.

In 2009, Capt. Bartlett will be celebrated from Newfoundland and Labrador to New England. When the repairs to Ernestina (previously "the little Morrissey") here at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard are completed, she will be ready to begin new stories and adventures with a new generation.

Watch a VIDEO news release from NECN.

Watch the videos below taken on the Effie M. Morrissey with Capt. Bartlett and his " little Morrissey".

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