Ponce de Leon ship coming to town

Ponce de Leon ship coming to town

By: Raphael Cosme

St Augustine businessman Dan Holiday and his group of volunteers, affiliated with the Ponce de Leon 500th celebration, are building a replica of a 16th Century Spanish caravel at the St Augustine Marine Center on Riberia Street.

What began life as an old shrimp boat named Apple Jack has found new life as an elegant reproduction of the same caravel used by Juan Ponce de Leon. The boat’s original name Apple Jack (apple brandy) translates in Spanish to Espiritu.

Holiday has named it El Espiritu, “a name that reminds the world how the unified spirit of a community can make good things happen.”

With the days of Ponce de Leon approaching, Holiday wants people to know more about his project. The 72-ft long El Espiritu is a replica of Ponce de Leon’s caravel, the Espiritu de Santiago. It is going to be used to re-enact the landing of Ponce de Leon for the 500th anniversary of naming Florida la Florida in 1513.

According to historian of the Spanish crown, Antonio de Herrera, Ponce’s ship had a crew of between 20 to 30 men with two women and came one legua (three miles) offshore in 50 feet of water before landing at 30 degree and 8 minutes.

This location is very near the Guana River; originally the Spanish named it Rio Iguana from the Taino Indians vocabulary.

Holiday says, “The ship is expected to be finished by December of this year and the crew is already listed. For the El Espiritu project there are 58 people involved and 18 active working daily shifts.

The project was funded by Holiday and with other donations from private companies. The group committee for the El Espiritu is represented by Dan Holiday, Ken Thomas, Scott Manney, Bryan Bowman, Tom Rahner, Jim Ponce and Bob Hall.

If the weather is right on April 2, 2013 the El Espiritu will sail north until reaching 30.8` Ponte Vedra Beach. A re-enactment crew will bring alive the landing of five centuries ago followed by a dedication ceremony of the Ponce de Leon statue at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve parking area.

Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News contributed photograph by Raphael Cosme