Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Rev Gomes, Model Builder

Julio R. "Rev" Gomes Jr. has built replicas of ships for more than 25 years. Working from his home in Fairhaven, Mr. Gomes estimates he has made more than 50 boats in the past 25 years.

Some of his models have been as tiny as three inches long, but most are much bigger, including one of his most recent, the Ernestina, which stands approximately 4 feet long and 3 feet high.

Mr. Gomes attributes his love for the craft and many of the skills he's acquired to watching Mr. Almeida, a noted model boat builder who carved his ships from wood. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Almeida was featured in a 30-minute documentary, "American Treasure, the Folk Art of Joaquim Miguel Almeida," produced by Searchlight Films.

The hull of his Ernestina, made working off ship blueprints, was constructed of thousands of coffee stirrers. The ship has full rigging with figures of Cape Verdean sailors working on deck, authentic ship's colors and miniature anchors, lanterns and life boats. Some of Mr. Gomes' replicas even include magnifier glass in the port holes, allowing viewers to see the detail below deck.

Mr. Gomes scavenges materials from his home, making creative use of everyday items to make the tiniest details. Popsicle sticks are fashioned into miniature pulleys and a mustache brush used to make a tiny broom for the Cape Verdean figure who sweeps the ship's deck. Simple dowels become convincing waterkegs and pipe cleaners curled round rigging turn into rat guards -- wraps that ships used to keep rats from climbing the ropes. Even coffee grinds are useful in staining the sails to give a more antique appearance.

Copyright 1997-2004
Schooner Ernestina
89 North Water Street, P.O. Box 2010, New Bedford, MA 02741-2010
phone 508.992.4900 -- fax 508.984.7719

produced by...