In real life, the Ernestina is one of a small handful of Essex, Massachusetts- built wooden schooners that are an important part of our maritime history. Originally launched in 1895, the boat has seen a century of service In multiple capacities, including commercial fishing, to polar exploration, military service, and as a transport vessel bringing new immigrants to America.
Ernestina is the oldest surviving Grand Banks fishing schooner, one of two surviving 19th- century Essex-built Gloucester fishing schooners, and is one of only two Arctic exploration sailing vessels left afloat in the United States.
In 1982, the Republic of Cape Verde restored the Ernestina and donated the ship to the people of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The ship is the official vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a National Historic Landmark, and part of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. In recent years the boat’s primary job has been to teach young people about sailing, and the rich maritime tradition and history that we all share.
For sometime however, the boat had been in dry dock in Boothbay, Maine, getting essential repairs to its forehull and topsides. Historically accurate, skilled repairs to a venerable schooner like Ernestina are neither easy nor cheap; the costs totaled over $1 million (that’s USD, not $L), and for a while the future of this precious landmark as a sailing vessel was in doubt.
RJ Kikuchiyo, Mister Wind, and Mindy Princess teamed up to bring this issue to the attention of the SL sailing community, and they did it in an absolutely wonderful, imaginative way that I’m still marvelling at.
They set up Boothbay sim in SL, and Master Builder RJ Kikuchiyo set to work building his own emulation of the Ernestina on the dock there, just as the real Ernestina was getting repairs in the ‘real’ Boothbay harbor.
Continuing the overlap between RL and SL sailing, RJ showed off his Ernestina recreation at the 2008 Boat Show in Second Life the same month he showcased it at the RL New York Boat Show. The Ernestina was a major hit, revealing a truly remarkable level of detail and authenticity. It was maritime history come alive again… it was Ernestina preserved and accessible to all through Second Life.
The teaching opportunities afforded by RJ’s Ernestia build were apparent to Mister Wind, who is currently involved in a project using the ship in a series of Machima videos that teach basic science and conservation to young children. It’s got a familiar cast even; RJ plays “Captain Rabbit,” and Chaos Mandelbrot apparently plays a Penguin (type casting, I thought). From what I hear Sudane Erato even plays a mermaid (this I gotta see)!
Through a series of public grants and private donations, the extensive repairs on the Ernestina were finally completed recently. This month the venerable schooner at long last returned to its home port in New Bedford, sailing the considerable distance from Boothbay under its own power. But please, don’t think it’s going to become a relic and just sit there quietly! On May 10th Ernestina pulled into Boston’s Rowe’s Warf for the day, just across from — and thumbing it’s nose at — the Volvo Ocean Race Fleet on Fan Pier!
(And let me tell you, the food and drinks are a lot better at the Harbor Hotel next to where Ernestina tied up.)
The real reason I’m writing about this, however… is to tell you that the saga of the Ernestina in second life has once again remarkably, in fact astonishingly, paralleled events in real life. Yesterday, RJ Kikuchio’s SL emulation of the Ernestina SET SAIL.
The boat spans a full third of a Sim, And the detailing is Kiku-Craft all the way. It is truly a wonder to behold. Jesrad Seraph is responsible for the scripting, and I’ll tell you all the details as soon as I can stop gawking at the boat long enough to get the details from Jesrad!
Yesterday, aboard for its maiden voyage, I was far too excited to think about algorithms or vehicle scripts, I’ll leave that to another day. Yesterday was about the pure joy of sailing, and bringing a precious part of maritime history to life again.
As RJ put the schooner though it’s paces in Blake Sea, he admitted that he, too, was amazed: “I never thought this possible.”
Jesrad then joined us, and I repeated RJ’s comment: “Jesrad! WOOOOOT!! You did the impossible!”
Jesrad just modestly shrugged, and replied: “People tell me that :)”