Ernestina under Sail

ernestina 01

 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 today

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.

 ernestina under constructionFor 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.

RJ 40Continuing 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)! 

 RJ_042 header copy 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.)

Ernestina -- Its Alive  512--

 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!

RJ Ernestina_050

 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 :)”




7 responses to “Ernestina under Sail

  1. big WOOTs to all who have helped Ernestina along the way! Thank you Jane for the kind words and adding to the LOVE that keeps her afloat!

    I am no artist. I am an engineer and for that, I am still working to continue to make Ernestina as accurate and ‘real’ as we can in SL. This is a special project, and for that I am happy to say we have gone to lengths to make her accessible to ANY person who wants to get involved with the project.

    I am offering the full perm Ernestina for you to work with, play with, or just sail! Just IM me inworld and a copy will be delivered to you.

    Special requests are sent out to scriptors, builders, and lovers of things wood and wet to help add to the vision that is Ernestina in SL.

    I would like to thank Mister Wind, Mindy Princess, Jesrad Seraph, Sudane Erato, and you, Jane, for helping make this possible!

  2. OK, when’s the first regatta? ‘Cause I know you guys totally will 😉

  3. Fantastic! All it needs is finishing off below decks…

  4. I need 5 names.. and we will have a match racing ladder for it.

    MTW needs to talk to Linden Labs pretty soon and have them setup 8 more Blake Seas. I can see where this is going otherwise 😉

  5. Match racing the Ernestina?
    COUNT ME IN !!!

  6. now this is a boat that can cricumnavigate GaetaV in style! The old story is that the first boat race in history was after the second boat was built!!

    @ Josef: Yes! I have deck plans and this was a journey to get to this point, but you can probably tell this is a v1.0 Ernestina meaning that sister ships are being revised and improved as I type this! That Includes, race fans, flying a fisherman topsail over the mizzen, getting the cabins sorted below decks!! ;-P There is also rumor of an all new revised sculpty hull and deck hardware. The wish list still includes running rigging, poses and animations for helming, and a proper articulated rudder, just to name a few.

    There is a discussion to be had of whether we would like a livable SL-scale interior or accurate from deck plans claustrophobic spaces; please jump in on this – its a group effort all the way!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s