We rung in the Christmas season with RECORD crowds last night at our annual holiday open house, Luminary Night. Over a thousand luminaries covered the grounds and surrounding neighborhood as we welcomed our community in for a night of holiday cheer.
See some of the highlights from the evening below and be sure to mark your calendars for next year, Wednesday Dec. 6th, our 2017 Luminary Night!
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.
View 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 →
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.
A model hull of the Florida skipjack is now complete, built over the past several months by volunteer boat builder Ralph Koebke. Ralph brought his model to the lighthouse on Friday to compare with the full size replica currently under construction at the lighthouse Heritage Boatworks program. Using the same ship lines as the full size replica, he has paid attention to the smallest of details to create an accurate, scale model of the vessel. Over the coming months, he will work on constructing a rig for the model. So far, he has logged over 150 volunteer hours on the project, and has done great work!
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 →