The Logbook of the Schooner Ernestina
for Three trans-Atlantic Voyages

These excerpts are from the logbook of the Schooner Ernestina made by Arnaldo Jose Mendes on three transatlantic voyages between the United States and Cape Verde. The logbook covers dates from July 6, 1954 to August 13, 1954; November 9, 1954 to December 14, 1954; and November 3, 1955 to December 4, 1955.

The English translation is by Gil Pires.

The front cover reads:



On board of the Schooner "Ernestina"

Whose owner is

Arnaldo Jose Mendes

By Arnaldo Jose Mendes

Year of 1954

The inside cover of the logbook lists the commander as Ricardo Lima Barros, whose name was crossed off at some point. Ricardo was commander for two of the three voyages documented in the logbook. According to Traudi Coli, the Schooner Ernestina’s on board anthropologist and Cape Verde specialist, Captain Ricardo Lima Barros was 39 years old at the time and he was from the island of Santiago. On this same page one finds the following information:

The primary pilot is Arnaldo Jose Mendes.
The secondary pilot is Augusto Brito Lima.
The carpenter is Celso Cibrao de Carvalho Araujo.
The purser is Henrique Jose Mendes.
The cook is Domingos Cardoso.

The three voyages combined transported only twelve passengers!
The combined voyages amount to 103 days at sea!

At the time of the first of these three voyages, the schooner was a sixty-year old vessel with no engine and no radio.
According to the August 14, 1954 edition of the Providence Journal, the ship had "a cargo consisting of 12 barrels of rope tobacco and 12 barrels of beans."

Voyage 1: July 6, 1954 to August 13, 1954

From the dock of Porto Grande in the city of Mindelo on the island of St. Vincent, Cape Verde to Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.
Captain: Ricardo L. Barros
38-day journey
16 crew members
3 passengers
Point of departure: Latitude 16.59N / Longitude 25.25W

"At sixteen hundred hours of the day, the sixth of the day of July of the year 1954, the Schooner "Ernestina" is anchored in Porto Grande, St. Vincent, Cape Verde. Supplied with all that is deemed necessary in order for it to undertake a voyage to the United States of America, [it is] crewed with sixteen men and [carrying] three passengers, all properly legalized. Following the disembarkation of the local authorities, and visited by the maritime authorities, the Harbor Master and his secretary, the anchor was raised and the sails hoisted at sixteen hundred and thirty hours bearing west by northwest, practically navigating in the channel of St. Vincent’s and St. Anthony’s." ~A. Mendes~

Day 18: July 24, 1954- A large wooden gangplank is picked up from the ocean by the crew.
Latitude 27.157N / Longitude 57.317W at midday
1,813.5 nautical miles at midnight

August 3 to August 6- Storm weather

Day 29: August 4, 1954 "Due to heavy squalls with gusts of wind, the sails were lowered and soon hoisted again, substituting the large-triangle sail." ~A. Mendes~
Latitude 36.200N / Longitude 68.365W at midday
2,663.5 nautical miles at midnight

Day 30: August 5, 1954- "At 4:00 AM the triangle-sail was lowered and the mainsail hoisted. Good sanitary conditions." ~The Pilot, A. Mendes~
"At fourteen hundred hours a ship passed by heading southeast. At twenty-one hundred hours lightning began to flash to the north/ northwest with small intervals and the barometer began to fall rapidly." ~The Pilot, A. Mendes~
Latitude 37.234N / Longitude 68.577W at midday
2,754 nautical miles at midnight

Day 31: August 6, 1954- "At 3:00 there were big water spots accompanied by thunder and lightning flashes, which necessitated that we lower the sails." ~The Pilot, A. Mendes~

Day 35: August 10, 1954- "At 7:00 the mast was lowered due to squalls with wind gusts. At 9:00 the large sail was lowered in order to mend a rip, raising the sail at 12:00." ~The Pilot, A. Mendes~

Day 37: August 12, 1954- Nantucket lighthouse sighted at 3:30 AM; choppy waters at 1500 hours

Arrival in Providence: August 13, 1954
38 days, 2 hours, 30 minutes
2:30 AM: Gay Head lighthouse sighted
"At 2:30 AM the lighthouse of Gay Head was sighted to the northeast and Block Island to the west. We had as our position Latitude 41.166N / Longitude 70.552W. Due to the increased wind, the course was changed, heading west by southwest until 6:00 AM, at which point [the vessel] turned north, let go of the wind until 11:00 AM, using the [aid of the] Brenton Reef lightship. At 12:10 PM the harbor pilot was taken aboard, heading in the direction of Providence, RI, the port of destination. At nineteen hundred hours, [we] anchored in front of State Pier, then proceeded once again, mooring on the Colonial Line Dock. Given the termination of the voyage, all is in proper order, certified by immigration, Customs, and doctor." ~Without more, the Pilot, A. Mendes~

Voyage 2: November 9, 1954 to December 14, 1954
From the rampart of the Colonial Line Dock in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A. to the docks of Porto Grande- Mindelo, Cape Verde
Capt. Ricardo Lima Barros
34-day journey
16 crew members
4 passengers
Point of departure: Latitude 41.00N / Longitude 71.20W

According to the November 5, 1954 edition of the Providence Bulletin, the schooner carried "about 15 to 20 tons of general cargo, mostly personal and household goods." The article explains that since the "Ernestina" arrived from Cape Verde on August 13, it "acquired a new coat of hull paint, some new running rigging, a second hand, 80- horsepower diesel and extra running lights to go with her new status as an auxiliary sailing ship." The same newspaper later reported on August 19 that a station wagon was among the cargo being carried to Cape Verde.

"At 12:30 PM on the ninth day of the month of November, the Schooner "Ernestina," unhampered by any of the local authorities: consulate, immigration, or customs, with four passengers and sixteen crew members, pulled away from the rampart of the Colonial Line. Going out into the river with the harbor pilot aboard until seventeen hundred hours, the pilot was left with the Brenton Reef lightship. At twenty-one hundred hours the Block Island lighthouse is noted to the northwest by west, taking as the point of departure Latitude 41.00N / Longitude 71.20W" ~Without more, the Pilot A. Mendes~

Day 7: November 16, 1954- "At eighteen hundred hours a warship was sighted in the windward direction. The flag was hoisted, but it was not seen [by the ship]." ~The Pilot, A. Mendes~
Latitude 33.430N / Longitude 61.020W at midday
703 nautical miles at midnight

Day 18: November 27, 1954- First mention of the use of the engine
"The engine started to work at eighteen hundred and thirty hours."
Latitude 30.255N / Longitude 48.264W at midday
1,441.5 nautical miles at midnight

Day 20: November 29, 1954
"The engine is in good working condition, overhauled from time to time by the engineer (motorista)…" ~The Pilot, A. Mendes~
Latitude 28.418N / Longitude 43.503W at midday
1,685 nautical miles at midnight

Day 28: December 7, 1954
"At 1:30 PM the engine was put to work in order for the mainsail to be lowered. At 4:00 PM the mainsail was hoisted after having fixed a small rip. The engine was stopped once again." ~Without more, A. Mendes~
Latitude 24.462N / Longitude 33.375W at midday
2,457 nautical miles at midnight

Day 31: December 10, 1954
"At 1:00 PM the engine was put to work and was stopped at fifteen hundred hours due to noting the lack of oil for lubrication." ~Without more, A. Mendes~
Latitude 20.531N ? Longitude 29.047W at midday
2,856 nautical miles at midnight

Day 33: December 12- 4:10 PM island of Santo Antao sighted

Day 34, 7 hours: December 13, 1954-
Navigating on the coast of the island of St. Anthony (Santo Antao)
"At 1:00 AM the engine was stopped and [the vessel continued] upstream, more so in order to pass the south of the island of St. Anthony (Santo Antao). Because the south of the island was found to be very calm, and the engine had little oil, [we] turned once again to the northwest at 6:00 AM. [We were] navigating practically on the coast using landmarks in order to find the F.P. Melo lighthouse which is located on the north of the island. At twenty hundred hours the Sun Point (Ponta do Sol) lighthouse was sighted to the southwest and the F.P. Melo lighthouse to the south, continuing to navigate practically tacking." ~Without more, the Pilot~

Arrival in Cape Verde: December 14, 1954
34 days, 11 hours
2:30 AM entered the channel
6:00 AM dropped the anchor in Porto Grande
"[We] entered the channel at 2:30 AM. At 6:00 AM [we] dropped the anchor in Porto Grande of St. Vincent (Sao Vicente), granting the termination of the voyage. ~With nothing more worth logging, The Pilot, A. Mendes~

Voyage 3: November 3, 1955 to December 4, 1955
From Colonial Line Dock, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A. to Porto Grande- Mindelo, Cape Verde
Capt. Arnaldo J. Mendes
31-day journey
17 crew members
5 passengers
Point of departure: Latitude 41.00N / Longitude 71.20W

The Providence Bulletin from the date of departure said that "Christmas toys and presents were among items of a mixed cargo, mostly furniture and clothing… "The last voyage contained in this logbook is the first time Arnaldo Jose Mendes signed his name with the closing, "The Captain." For the two previous voyages contained in this logbook, he signed his name following the closing, "The Pilot," after each day’s entry.

There is a passenger who begins suffering from heart complications after the twentieth day of the voyage. From November 24, 1955 to December 3, 1955, the passenger goes from better to worse to better to worse at the end of the journey in Cape Verde. This is the only time that there is a health concern on the vessel during the three voyages contained in this logbook.

"At eleven hundred hours of the day on the third of the month of November the Schooner "Ernestina," at my command, supplied with all that is deemed necessary for a long- term voyage, left the Colonial Line Dock, Providence, RI, with seventeen crew members and five passengers, all properly legalized. Skillfully navigating on the river according to the indications of the harbor pilot until sixteen hundred hours and thirty minutes, we then left the pilot on the Brenton Reef lightship, taking as a point of departure Latitude 41.00N / Longitude 71.20W, following the compass needle south." ~The Captain, A. Mendes~

Day 6: November 9, 1955
"The weather being a bit gray with a gusty wind at dawn, the forsail and the head sails were lowered at 10:00 AM. [The vessel continued] running only by engine. ~The Cap, A. Mendes~

"At twenty hundred hours the fall in the barometric pressure was noted [along with] various lightning flashes in different directions. [This coincided] with strong winds with rain and choppy seas with waves breaking over the stern." ~The Cap, A. Mendes~
Latitude 35.363N / Longitude 59.140W at midday
566 nautical miles

Day 14: November 17, 1955
"We all enjoy good health thanks be to God. The bilges pumped at a proper level." ~Without more, The Capt., A. Mendes~

"At twenty-one hundred hours the forsail was lowered due to a big downpour with wind gusts which soon came to pass. A steamship heading southwest passed by the port bow." ~Without more, The Cap, A. Mendes~
Latitude 29.061N / Longitude 45.306W at midday
1,540 nautical miles at midnight

Day 16: November 19, 1955
"At thirteen hundred hours the sails were hoisted and the engine, which had little gasoline for the voyage, was ordered shut off." ~Without […], A. Mendes~
Latitude 27.080N / Longitude 43.022W
1,688 nautical miles at midnight

Day 19: November 22, 1955
"Good sanitary condition. [The] only [thing is] that a passenger is suffering from heart problems. The bilges attended to in all the holds." ~Without more, A. Mendes~
1,976 nautical miles

Day 29: December 2, 1955
"We all enjoy good health. The sick [passenger] is quite better. The bilges pumped in all the holds.’ ~Without more, A. Mendes~

"Due to choppy waters and a stiff wind, the forsail was lowered and the engine put to work. The mainsail was also lowered at fourteen hundred hours in order to repair the halyard, hoisting all [up] once again at seventeen hundred hours." ~A. Mendes~
Latitude 19.102N / Longitude 26.317W at midday
2,925 nautical miles

Arrival in Cape Verde: December 4, 1955
31 days, 3 hours
"The sick [passenger] having worsened a bit, the rest of the crew and passengers are enjoying optimal health. At 12:00 the sails were lowered and [the vessel] continued to go only by engine, heading east by southeast. At eighteen hundred hours the island of St. Anthony (Santo Antao) is sighted. Considering the course taken, the fact that the voyage’s navigation [route] being practically on the coast was not logged was because the logbook had terminated. [The vessel] anchored at 2:00 PM, December 4." ~A. Mendes~