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.
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