Boatbuilding ubiquitous part of city life

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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

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