Category Archives: LAMP Boatworks

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

Lighthouse Seeks Volunteers and Docents for Boatbuilding Program

Just in time for the city’s 450th celebration, residents are invited to be part of history by volunteering with the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum’s traditional wooden boatbuilding program.

DSC02270ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – For much of St. Augustine’s early history, wooden boats were a ubiquitous part of city life. Our ancestors built these watercraft by hand, a tradition that is now being carried forward by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum’s Boatworks program.

With three projects currently underway in the boatworks, the museum is looking for additional volunteers to help with the construction as boat builders or to share the vessels’ history as volunteer docents. No previous experience is required and training will be provided for both roles.

“Volunteering with the boatworks is a great opportunity to have hands-on experience with the ancient art of boat carpentry as it was once practiced in St. Augustine using local materials,” said Dr. Sam Turner, Director of Archaeology at the museum.

The museum launched its boatworks program in 2007 to keep alive this ancient craft so closely tied to St. Augustine’s maritime past. To date, the program has built 11 vessels and restored three others, all powered by volunteers and donations. The boatworks also received a grant in 2014 from the Crisp-Ellert Fund which recognizes the boatbuilding process as a type of local folk art.

Boatbuilding volunteers will work on all aspects of the watercraft construction from start to finish, collaborating with other volunteers, historians and museum archaeologists along the way to ensure the vessels are built with historic accuracy. Volunteers in the docent role will educate museum visitors in the process of wooden boatbuilding, its history here in St. Augustine and the history behind each of the individual craft.

Volunteers are welcome to participate seasonally or year-round. Anyone interested should contact Volunteer Coordinator Loni Wellman at (904) 829-0745 ext. 213 or send an email to



A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)3 non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is on a mission to preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port sm as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.  

First Chalupa Sea Trials Completed

IMG_4691The chalupa in her slings after launch at the Camachee Cove Marina March 11, 2015

The chalupa replica project hit a major mile stone this past Saturday, March 28, when it rowed out of Hospital Creek for the first time into Matanzas Bay. The craft was blessed and christened the San Agustín six days earlier on March 22nd at her home port located at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. This grass roots collaborative community project is being carried out by the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum contributed the research that has made the project possible. In 2007 the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum received a special category grant from the Division of Historical Resources of the Florida Department of State. The grant funded archaeological and historical research that focused on St. Augustine’s maritime past as well as the purchase of diving and remote sensing equipment that allowed the LAMP program to develop into what it has become today. One of the line items in that grant was a research trip to the Archives of the Indies in Seville Spain. That trip in 2008 proved critical to what would become the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation’s chalupa replica project. Continue reading

Flipping the Yawl Boat


Thursday, February 19th, was a bright and beautiful sunny morning. It was also the coldest we have had in St. Augustine this winter with one Lighthouse neighbor observing 31⁰ F on his thermometer during the early morning hours. It seems a little much however, to be complaining about the weather in Florida while the rest of the country is blown and battered by record low temperatures. Regardless, the big news on this particular morning was not the weather. The big news today was the flipping of the yawl boat that has been under construction since 2009.

During the building process the boat has been flipped on a number of different occasions. This one has particular importance as a mile stone because the yawl has been completely planked, had its planking seams caulked with cotton, and had the same seams primed and then paid with a seam compound to keep the caulking in place. And last but not least, two coats of primer paint have been lovingly applied to the entire exterior of the hull. Continue reading