All posts by Sam

Progress on the Florida Skipjack

The building of an authentic replica of a traditional fishing craft called a Florida skipjack was begun with a grant award from the Community Foundation from Northeast Florida. The Crisp-Ellert Grant is one that supports the arts and the Foundation has acknowledged that traditional wooden boat carpentry is an art form. The mission of the Heritage Boatworks at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is to “recover, preserve, and pass on the traditional art of boat carpentry as practiced in St. Augustine”, and with a 451 year tradition of building wooden craft in St. Augustine, the Heritage Boatworks have plenty to choose from.

DSC04952View of the skipjack toward the starboard stern quarter

The design of the craft originated in Essex on the Connecticut River and was brought to Northeast Florida by a Captain Watrous around 1850. The skipjack under construction is a replica of a craft that was originally built on the St. Johns River in New Berlin, outside of Jacksonville between 1875 and 1880. During the Great Depression in October, 1936, the craft was documented as part of a WPA project called the Historic American Merchant Marine Survey (HAMMS). Her dimensions, fastening, manner of framing, and the type of woods that went into her construction were all recorded in some 26 pages of field notes with measured drawings and photographs the end product of which became a set of ship lines that were drafted from all the collected data. This information was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. where all the records from the HAMMS project are archived. These lines and notes were used by the Boatworks to project and replicate the shape of the hull. Continue reading

Night Fest Special Guests: Chickens!


DSC_0791The rooster Helios

This year’s Night Fest held Saturday March 5th, was well attended but this year it had some unusual guests. The St. Johns County, Academy Public Middle School 4-H Club brought a number of chickens and a rooster to this year’s event so that students could interact with the public and share their knowledge about this traditional yard bird. Continue reading

Dr. Sam Turner Awarded Grant to Study Historic St. Augustine Artillery

Last year, Dr. Sam Turner, Director of Heritage Boatworks and an Historian and Maritime Archaeologist at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, was invited to become a Research Associate of the Historic St. Augustine Research Institute (HSARI). The Institute is a collaborative project of Flagler College and the University of Florida, supported by the St. Augustine Foundation, Inc. The Institute funds research projects that focus primarily on scholarly research into St. Augustine’s historic heritage, and are committed to making the results of that research available both to historic preservation efforts in the City, and to the interested public.

Turner applied for 2016 grant funds from the Institute for a research project titled “St. Augustine’s Bronze and Cast Iron Artillery and Equipment 1597-1601” for which he was awarded $10,000.00. This research is based primarily on a collection of Spanish documents Turner found in the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain, during a State grant funded trip in 2008.

An example of one of the scribal hands found in the artillery inventory in the Spanish documents.
An example of one of the scribal hands found in the artillery inventory in the Spanish documents.

These documents contain a great deal of information on the material culture of St. Augustine between 1597 and 1601, the time covered by the documents. This included information that was used in the recreation of a late 16th century water craft known as a chalupa named the San Agustín, built here in a partnership between the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation, and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park for the 450th commemoration. Continue reading

Maritime Training Program Begins

During the second week of October, The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum launched its new lunchtime Maritime Training Program for Lighthouse staff and volunteers. Through the program participants learn to row as a team as well as how to handle small sailing craft. The purpose of the program is to help Lighthouse staff and volunteers better understand and appreciate the unique marine environment of St. Augustine. Understanding how the winds, currents, tides, and shoals of our local water’s effect  ship’s and boat’s navigation gives staff and volunteers a more personal connection with the sea.  This in turn gives them confidence on the water and also enables them to better interpret and share our maritime history and archaeology with our guests.


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Community Collaboration: A Power for Good Makes a Great Contribution to our 450th

This article first appeared in the St. Augustine Record on Sunday, Sept. 6th.

In 2007, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum received a special category grant from the state of Florida for the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. In addition to funding nautical archaeology in the Nation’s Oldest Port, the grant paid for a visit to the Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain, to obtain documents important to St. Augustine’s past.

The research trip, carried out during the summer of 2008 was conducted by the Lighthouse & Maritime Museum’s Maritime Archaeological Program, known locally as LAMP.  Museum archaeologists discovered a number of documents that shed considerable light on our port City’s early Spanish maritime history.

Dr. Sam Turner on board the chalupa replica.
Dr. Sam Turner on board the chalupa. Photo by Kirk Chamberlain.

Of great importance was the discovery of a document that listed a Spanish chalupa. When most people see the word chalupa, they think of something tasty from a Mexican restaurant. This chalupa was something quite different.

In this case, the reference was to a type of Spanish vessel that was built in St. Augustine in 1597 for the use of the St. Augustine presidio, or military establishment. The inventory listed the craft along with its masts, yards, rudder, rudder hardware, and ten oars. This documents one of the earliest examples of shipbuilding in the oldest continually occupied port city in the continental United States.  Continue reading