The Skipjack Hull is Complete!
(The Hull Model, That Is)

Model builder Ralph Koebke (right) and his hull model of the Florida skipjack in front of the full size replica currently under contruction at the lighthouse Heritage Boatworks program. Volunteer boat builder Richard Sexauer (left) can be seen working on the full size replica most morning at the lighthouse.
Volunteer Ralph Koebke (right) and his hull model of the Florida skipjack in front of the full size replica currently under contruction at the lighthouse Heritage Boatworks program. Volunteer boat builder Richard Sexauer (left) can be seen working on the full size replica most mornings at the lighthouse.

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!

A view of the starboard side of the skipjack hull model.
A view of the starboard side of the skipjack hull model.

Ralph paid great attention to detail during the construction of the model. This delicate line attaches to a centerboard, which actually drops down beneath the keel of the model, just like the full scale centerboard will when complete.
Ralph paid great attention to detail during the construction of the model. This delicate line attaches to a centerboard, which actually drops down beneath the keel of the model, just like the full scale centerboard will when complete.

The Florida skipjacks were developed around 1870 by commercial fishermen on the St. Johns River. By the 1880s, the Florida skipjacks dominated the St. Johns shad fishery and were among the most popular small sailing craft Northeast Florida, second only to the bateau. These centerboard sailing vessels, featuring a V-shaped, chine-built, sawn-frame hull with a sharp bow and a chine rising high on the stern, were not only swift and handy craft, but also able to handle very heavy deck loads. This made them popular as both pleasure craft and rugged workboats.

A view of the model interior.
A view of the model interior.

Those interested in the project can see the full size replica under construction on the lighthouse grounds, where volunteer boat builders and interpreters are available to answer questions most days. They are currently working on getting the first coats of primer painted on the interior of the hull.

For those interested in other model building projects, you can see many of the models in our collection on display throughout the three floors of exhibits housed in the historic Keeper’s House Museum on our site. You can also check out our past ship modeling projects in the Ship Model Journal in this blog.

Archaeologist Olivia McDaniel first joined the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum team in 2012 as a student at LAMP’s Underwater Archaeology Field School. She officially joined the lighthouse family as an archaeologist in July, 2014, after completing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Idaho.