For many Cape Verde Islanders, the New bedford
wharf area was the first view of America. At the height
of immegration between 1900 and 1921, more than
a dozen packet boats ran between Cape Verde
and New Bedford, the main port of entry. Packet boats
carried freights and passengers on a regular schedule.
After World War II, as air travel increased, Ernestina became
one of only two vessels making the regular trip to Cape
Verde. The schooner continued to do so - often without
engine or radio - until 1965. She was the last sailing ship to
bring immigrants across the Atlantic to the United States.
Many of those Cape Verdeans - people of Portuguese and
African descent - still live in the New Bedford area."
Because the Cape Verde Islands were on the trade winds route to Brazil, New Bedford whaling vessels often stopped there to pick up provisions and, sometimes, crew. Perhaps 500 to 1,000 Cape Verdeans reached southern New England on whale ships between 1820 and 1860.
Upon climbing aboard the Ernestina... we found ourselves surrounded by beds, bureaus, boxes, mattresses, dressers, chairs, tables, chickens, and barking dogs, with people milling about.... No one could actually believe that dozens of people had embarked on this voyage, with all their worldly possession, in a ship past her prime having no radio, setting out to cross the Atlantic Ocean!
Frank Way Jr., of USS Arcadia, in Narragansett Bay, 1954