Building a 16th Century vessel with scarce parts

Daniel D Holiday, the St Augustine leather-craftsman known to his friends as “the spirit of Espiritu”, came to coffee on the Plaza this morning; bearing a handmade replica of one of three-dozen fasteners needed to hold the riggings on the 16th Century Spanish Caravel under construction at St Augustine Marine Center’s 23-acre Riberia Street shipyard.

Holiday explained to Historic City News editor Michael Gold that authentic parts for ships built in the 1500’s are impossible to come by; and many, like the coupler known as a “deadeye”, have to be made, one at a time, by hand.

“The crew shaped the deadeye according to a pattern researched by Tom Rhaner,” Holiday said. “A solid piece of local White Oak was donated to our project and was taken to Georgia for cutting and finishing.”

Altogether secondary, in terms of canvas size to the mainsail, which requires 16 larger handmade deadeyes, the foresail and mizzen are still large enough to require full running rigging — 8 deadeyes each. A 1″ line wraps the outside of the teardrop-shaped deadeye and three 5/8″ lines pass through its center.

“At the rate we’re going, we will have the Caravel Espiritu ready in plenty of time for the celebrations next year,” said Holiday.

Of course, he’s referring to the planned April installation of a life-size bronze statue of Juan Ponce de Leon near 30 degrees, 8 minutes — where the Ponce landing party first came ashore according to the research of Antonio de Herrera.

Candy Carroll, Holiday’s girlfriend, put up the money for a Sanford, FL foundry to cast the statue of the famous Spanish explorer. Holiday’s daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Coenraad Janse Van Rensburg, are helping by providing the base for the statue. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, has agreed for the statue to be installed in the corner of a public parking lot on the west side of SR-A1A so that it will be visible to motorists passing by.

Holiday says that Espiratu will anchor off-shore; across from the South Ponte Vedra Beach monument site during its dedication ceremonies.

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