A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

Shipping News

May 22, 2013

A Spanish Galleon in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A replica of a Spanish galleon entering the harbor off downtown St. Augustine. While this is an authentic replica of vessels that were instrumental to the founding of our nation's oldest port, no ship this large could have ever entered St. Augustine due to our shallow and treacherous inlet.

Yesterday we got a phone call from a St. Augustine city official, asking if a LAMP research vessel could help escort into our inlet a replica Spanish galleon. We had already heard the news that our city was to feature a visit from the galleon, as part of Florida's 500th birthday celebration, and we have been looking forward to the day of its arrival! The galleon, named El Galeón Andalucía, is owned and operated by the Nao Victoria Foundation in Spain, and will be visiting four cities during its Florida tour. It measures 175 feet in length and is a 495 ton vessel. It is probably an accurate depiction of a medium to large sized galleon of the second half of the 16th century through first half of the 17th century.

Ironically, however, the sight of this galleon in our harbor, no matter how authentic the ship itself is, could never have been seen in our ancient city.

Continue reading "A Spanish Galleon in St. Augustine" »

May 4, 2012

Update from the Teaching With Small Boats Conference!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

I am sitting on the banks of the Puget Sound this evening, waiting for dinner, and enjoying the beautiful scenery of western Washington state. Under my feet is a pebble beach, a log for my butt, behind me is a well ordered row of woody cabins. In front of me is a mile wide stretch of water about 48 degrees but crystal clear and full of sea lions, otters, salmon, dungeness crabs, and gray whales. On the other side is Whidby Island, framed at times by the even more distant but majestic Olympic Mountains. Rising to over 12000 feet, their snowy crags are a reminder of the youthful vigor of the landscape, the restless Pacific Rim. Eagles chatter and whistle from the giant cedar trees and the lapping of the water are all that meets the ears.

No trip to Seattle would be complete without a shot of the Space Needle, but I thought I'd add the flair of the conference to this picture. Superposed on the Space Needle is the mainmast and rig for the schooner Lavengro, a beautiful 1920s Biloxi lugger now sailing Lake Union.

But that us not why I am here. LAMP sent me here to learn from the best institutions in the country who build wooden boats and train young people in solid math and science skills using a philosophy that 'boats build people', not the other way around. Groups from all over the country are here to share their success stories in programming and it has been an astounding success. How do I measure this success? The 80 or so participants who have participated this weekend have kept a remarkable energy going to blend ideas, come up with new ones, and refine existing concepts of how to make our young people better, smarter, and stronger. While we do many of these things at the Lighthouse Museum with our education programming, we are thinking about making the LAMP Boatworks more of a part of this. It has been a successful part of the museum and deserves to share its skills with a broader group.

Continue reading "Update from the Teaching With Small Boats Conference!" »

April 26, 2012

The Bounty Safely Docked in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


We blogged the other day about the impending arrival of the replica tallship Bounty. As of 1:00 pm yesterday, after two weeks at sea, the Bounty crossed through the Bridge of Lions and safely docked at the City Marina. Some of our Lighthouse volunteers, including Maurey Keiser, escorted the proud ship in with his own sailboat, some of us watched from the Bridge, and some of us witnessed the arrival with binoculars from the top of the tower. What an exciting day, and what a beautiful ship!

From the St. Augustine Record:

As the HMS Bounty made its way through the Bridge of Lions early Wednesday afternoon, the crowd of people on the bridge burst into applause. Hundreds of others, stationed all along the waterfront from the Castillo de San Marcos to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, waved and cheered the three-masted wooden vessel as boats of all shapes and types buzzed around the harbor, escorting the ship.

The Bounty will be open for tours Friday through Sunday. Tickets are available at the City Marina.This Saturday marks the 223rd anniversary of the original mutiny on the Bounty, which took place on April 28, 1789.

The St. Augustine Record compiled a great slideshow of the Bounty's arrival, and also this video below. Its great to see a historic sailing ship in our port, and to imagine how for centuries tall masts dotted our harbor like a forest on the water.

April 24, 2012

The Bounty Comes to St. Augustine!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Tomorrow morning, sometime around 0800, the tall ship Bounty should be arriving off the St. Augustine Inlet and preparing to sail into Matanzas Bay. She is a replica of the well-known British naval vessel which saw the infamous mutiny against Captain Bligh in 1789. Drawing 13 feet of water, she will have to wait for the high tide in order to enter the harbor and cross under the Bridge of Lions and dock at the City Marina, where the public can tour her decks on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

From the St. Augustine Record:

The HMS Bounty, a replica of one of the most famous ships in the world, was built for the 1962 MGM movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard. The Bounty has also appeared in several other motion pictures over the years, including “Treasure Island,” and two of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies starring Johnny Depp.

The Bounty, which has just begun its 2012 East Coast tour, will come through the St. Augustine Inlet, possibly as early as Wednesday, and tie up at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, where she will be available to the public for tours Friday through Sunday.

Continue reading "The Bounty Comes to St. Augustine!" »

April 16, 2012

LAMP Boatworks Update

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The most recent project at the LAMP Boatworks. Foreground left is the Chaisson dory tender, a 17' spritsail skiff to right, and a 1760s ship's yawl in the background.

A quick update, since I’ve been remiss in sending one for a while. I hope this finds you all in kindred spirits and enjoying this fine weather. Things around the boatworks have been heating up this spring and continue to simmer at a solid pace.

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March 9, 2012

LAMP Monitors Beach Dredging and Dredging Awareness

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The saga of our 450 year old shipping channel continues as dredging of the St. Augustine Inlet began last week. In an effort to both maintain safe bathymetry (enough deep water) and a big, wide beach, sand is pumped from the bottom of the inlet and onto St. Augustine Beach. LAMP is helping to guard our maritime history and ensure we don't lose anything to this important project.

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April 21, 2011

LAMP Boatworks at the Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival

Posted by: Brendan Burke

panorama copy.jpg

The late afternoon waterfront was still and flesh-warm. Only broken by the splash of a jumping mullet or the sudden outburst from a seagull, the glassy waterscape seeped Old Florida. Wooden docks askew from storms and time kept silent fishing boats bowing slowly to their slack moorings. This was, and is, the fishing village of Cortez, Florida. I stood with Matt Hanks on an old floating dock looking out over the panorama and letting the tension of a four and a half hour drive ease away. We were there to bring the good news of our lighthouse boatbuilding program to the Gulf coast, to learn about what other programs are doing, and to show off the William A. Harn, the first boat built by LAMP Boatworks. Follow along to learn more about LAMP Boatworks and the Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks at the Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival" »

February 24, 2011

3/19/2011: Boat Show 2011!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Click the poster to make it bigger.

We are pleased to announce the 2011 LAMP Boatworks Boat Show, to be held on Saturday, March 19th. This is part of the annual St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Lighthouse Festival. Last year we had a very nice collection of traditional watercraft show up from all over Florida. This year is our second year including a boat show as part of the Lighthouse Festival and we are looking forward to it! Boats we seek include traditional watercraft powered by sail, oar, or engine. This includes wooden boats built using traditional plans, methods, and/or materials. This is a fun event and if you have not visited our museum, it is open to the public for free on Festival day and we routinely host 5,000 or more visitors every year.

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January 28, 2011

LAMP Boatworks Plays Hookey

Posted by: Brendan Burke

LAMP Boatworks, enjoying a day sail.

Volunteer boatbuilders from the LAMP Boatworks enjoyed a 'thank you' cruise aboard Privateer Lynx this past Thursday, the 28th of January. The Lynx Eduational Foundation offered space on the cruise for our Boatworks volunteers as an act of appreciation for their efforts to revitalize the ship's stern boat. Lynx has now departed St. Augustine and will be reopening for tours in downtown Jacksonville on February 15. We wish her well!

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January 20, 2011

LAMP Boatworks Celebrates a New Launch!

Posted by: Brendan Burke


For the past several months volunteers at the LAMP Boatworks have been diligently working on the building of our eight hull, a boat type called the ‘Susan’. Designed by Robert M. Steward in the 1950s, this classic little boat got her feet wet this morning at the hands of the lead builders, Richard Sexauer and Steve McMullen .

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December 31, 2010

A Tour of Lynx

Posted by: Brendan Burke


A sulking schooner fell in with the British blockading squadron during December of 1813. Biting wind and freezing spray calloused a sunwashed seascape. Harsh winter light cast stark lines across the sleek vessel making her appear even sharper than she already was. Lieutenant Murray gently tacked the Mosquidobit and kept communication flowing up and down the line of British schooners, sloops, and frigates. Today things were quiet. Hardly a word was passed on deck to maintain the evolutions. No new sails, no news, nothing to do but pace the ship within its assigned box. Back and forth, back and forth, flags hoisted up, fluttered down, log kept, deck swept. Piercing cold wind kept Lt. Murray’s gaze down to clear wind tears from his eyes and thoughts wandered to this recently built ship, one of the fastest in the squadron and once a proud privateer known as Lynx. Only a few months prior, she had fallen into British hands at the mouth of the Rappahannock River and ended her role as a patriot combatant.

Continue reading "A Tour of Lynx" »

November 12, 2010

Privateer Lynx Arrives in St. Augstine

Posted by: Brendan Burke


For 149 years no privateers attempted the St. Augustine Bar. Yesterday, that all changed. The Privateer Lynx, a topsail schooner, made her way safely through the inlet and secured her dock lines at St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Welcomed by a hearty throng of townspeople on land and by boat, the 122' tallship saluted the city with broadsides from its carronades. Cutting through the gunpowder smoke and cheers, she made her way into our city to call it home for the next three months. LAMP was on hand to greet our sailing friends and celebrate the occasion.

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September 25, 2009

The Newest Shipwreck in the Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The 69' fire rescue boat Patriot, on route from Canada to Tampa, ran aground at the inlet attempting to make it into St. Augustine's harbor for the night. She was eventually pulled to safety by the tugboat Albert Pike, seen in the background.

Its the same story that it ever was. Late Wednesday night a vessel on route from Canada to Tampa made its way into the St. Augustine Inlet, seeking a safe refuge for the remainder of the night. It is probably safe to assume that the captain and crew were unfamiliar with the dynamic environmental conditions that prevail in the waters around our nation's oldest port. And so around 11 pm the 69' vessel found itself stranded near Porpoise Point at the north end of the inlet, as have ships for centuries attempting to make safe harbor in St. Augustine.

Continue reading "The Newest Shipwreck in the Oldest Port" »

September 22, 2009

An Adventure Through Pacific Time (Guest Blog by former LAMP intern Karson Winslow)

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Note from Chuck Meide, LAMP Director: Karson Winslow, a graduate student from Flinders University in Australia, was one of our two first LAMP interns under the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. She worked with us from July to October 2007. When she left us, it was one of the few times that our entire LAMP staff was jealous of our intern's next job, which was cruising the South Seas as a crew member on board an authentic tall sailing ship. At that time we invited her to guest blog her experiences, and now that she is back home in the U.S.A. she has taken us up on her offer. Prepare to enjoy her account of blue seas, green isles, white canvas, and wooden decks . . .

I spent a year doing something that people only dream about, if they know it even exists. When I discovered a way to see the South Pacific through the eyes of an early explorer, I knew there was no way to let an opportunity like this sail away.

After saying farewell to the Lighthouse team in St. Augustine, I joined the Tall Ship Soren Larsen in Auckland, New Zealand with only a small notion of what would lay ahead.

Continue reading "An Adventure Through Pacific Time (Guest Blog by former LAMP intern Karson Winslow)" »

May 11, 2009

5/06 - 5/17/09 Columbus Ships in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Historically accurate replicas of the Nina and the Pinta, open to the public for tours
Where: St. Augustine City Marina
When: 9am-6pm, May 6th - May 17th, 2009
Who: These two replica ships are operated by the Columbus Foundation, and were brought to St. Augustine with the help of LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
How much: Admission for adults is $7, children older than 4 are $5, and senior citizens are $6. A guided group rate of $3 per person is also available for groups of 15 or more. A portion of each admission goes to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

March 31, 2008

04/15/08 Public Meeting for National Maritime Heritage Area

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

National Maritime Heritage Area Workshop


Please join us for a National Heritage Area Feasibility Workshop
(Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 12:30 pm until 5:00 pm
GTM NERR Environmental Education Center
505 Guana River Road
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32080

RSVP requested by April 11, 2008
Contact Pam Troll at 904-829-0745, ext 224 or

February 19, 2008

Can You Help Grow our Community Service at the Lighthouse and LAMP?

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

The Lighthouse would love to have you as a member of our Founding Lights Family. You can make a difference.

It takes a great many of us working together to keep the Light Station strong. It takes all our support to keep the lighthouse preserve and programs going.

Today, we are about $25,000 short of having $350,000 dollars in our small, but growing endowment fund. Why is $350,000 the magic number? Well, when we hit $350,000, then we can apply for another $250,000 from the State of Florida. And that will help us a great deal. It makes us more secure, more stable in a world where changes happen and surprises hit us with new things to repair. It makes us more able to continue wonderful community services like those so many enjoy.

Our Founding Lights Campaign helps preserve and keep alive our story for generations. Fifty percent of every Founding Lights pledge becomes part of the endowment. This money is not ever spent, but and stablity and generates interest that supports programs and our restoration efforts. The remaining funds are put to good use right away.

Won't you help protect the lighthouse? Won't you help save our maritime heritage?

Please join us as a Founding Light!

The Levels Founding Lights: $1,000 per year for five years - Leadership level Legacy Circle: $500 per year for five years - Recognition in a special annual ceremony here and up. Heritage Club: $250 per year for five years Guardians: $100 per year for five years
Find a Pledge Form at this link: http://www.staugustinelighthouse.com/foundinglights.php.

Or call us here at the Lighthouse 904 829-0745.

Kathy Fleming
Executive Director

September 26, 2007

Of Old Ports, Lighthouses and Ben Franklin.

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

The following is written on a New England Lighthouse web site. http://lighthouse.cc/boston/history.html History - page one

Boston lighthouse) holds a place of honor among our nation's beacons. This was the first light station established on the North American continent, and the last in the United States to be automated. It's also our only light station that still retains an official keeper.

Because Boston Light was destroyed in the Revolution and rebuilt in 1783, the tower itself is the second oldest in the U.S.....It's recorded that there was a beacon on Point Allerton in Hull as early as 1673.

Sorry, in St. Augustine we scoff (in a friendly way) at 1673. Heck, we were a 108 by then. Maybe they got the idea for the 1673 lit watch tower from St. Augustine? Yes, Boston is important, and claiming first American lighthouse is significant. But claming first "North American" watchtower is a different thing all together.

An exciting point from this excerpt about Boston is the report that fires burned in towers very early on at Hull. This happened before they were designated "lighthouses." What does that mean? Is it important in some way? Let's explore it a bit more.

Consider this quote from Puertos del Estado, a Spanish web site discussing Spain's port system. The quote below has been translated into English, See the original at: http://www.puertos.es/es/index.html

The origins of the visual aids to navigation date back to the humans' first attempts to discover new commercial routes, going far a way from the coast in their vessels. In the daytime, the geographical unevenness oriented these men. However, at night, they needed to use the light emitted by bonfires burning in strategic coastal points in order to come back to the port. Since the rain or the wind extinguished these bonfires, they were protected with a kind of structure...Thus, the lighthouses started....

After the fall of the Roman Empire...countries were focused on the wars more than on the social and economic development. Few new lighthouses were built...Morever, the existing lighthouses were destroyed.

Since the 12th Century, the navigation in the Mediterranean Sea and in North Europe was reactivated. In order to guarantee the safety in the shipping routes, lighthouses were built. Thus, Scandinavia and Germany had the best-lit coast in Europe (15 lighthouses in 1600).... In addition, bonfires were placed on existing watchtowers such as Porto Pi in Mallorca.

Hmmm? So, according to Spanish historians, Europe used lighthouses formally as early as 1600. More excitingly for us, there is a recorded history in Spain of lighting watchtowers!!!

I believe the question is not "How early was there a lighthouse?" But rather, "When did economic activity and coastal defense call for maritime aids to navigation? It is at this point that we begin to discover when the "port" became a "port" and not just a ship's landing site."


Continue reading "Of Old Ports, Lighthouses and Ben Franklin. " »

August 27, 2007

LAMP caught a ketch.

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Brass and wood aboard the Quark.

The ketch Quark came into St. Augustine's waters this week for a brief stay. Fortunately for us here at the Lighthouse, the boat’s crew has good taste and a mind for all things historical. They visited the Lighthouse. It was here at the LAMP office we first met George Floyd, owner and master of this amazing wooden boat. He came into the LAMP office to discuss his ventures into a Maritime Heritage Museum in Apalachicola. Towards the end of our chat, he dropped the bomb to say he was currently in town on board his reproduction ketch, docked a few cables length away at the Conch House Marina. An invitation was all we needed to go see and tour this piece of replicated history.

Continue reading "LAMP caught a ketch." »

Shipping News Begins!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Welcome to our newest blog section Shipping News! In this section we will be posting information on historic and reproduction boats, vessels, ships, and craft that come here to St. Augustine. In the past few weeks I have witnessed a few boats docked around here that made me think “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to share some of the floating stories that come in and out of our waterways?” and so here we are. Our inaugural entry, I hope, will provide some insight as to what sort of posting to expect. Also, since LAMP can’t keep tabs on every vessel traveling through, please let us know if you see or hear of a historic boat in the area. You can do this by email at: bburke@staugustinelighthouse.com or by phone at 904-838-8813. Thanks and enjoy!

-Brendan Burke, LAMP