When the Spanish began their trans-AtlanticThe Caravel was a light, fast 20 meter sailing vessel of 50 to 150 tons developed by the Portuguese in the 15th Century for coastal exploration. This ship, the “caravela latina”, carried lateen sails on two masts which enabled it to sail well to windward. explorations, starting with Columbus, they adapted the caravel with square rigged sails on three or four masts, the “caravela redondo”, for sailing downwind along the trade winds. The caravel’s shallow draft made it ideal for crossing the dangerous bar at the mouth of the St. Augustine harbor.
The Caravel Replica Project is a signature event of the 450th Commemoration that showcases the artisan skills of the ship carpenter as it was traditionally practiced in early centuries of St Augustine. Using archeological data from 16th Century shipwrecks and historical documentation, ship wrights will construct a replica caravel, the “San Agustin”. This type of vessel was used both by Juan Ponce de Leon on his historic voyage of discovery to Florida in 1513 and by Pedro Menendez de Aviles when he founded St Augustine in 1565. This project will be carried out in full public view on the waterfront of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park in Saint Augustine.
Through 2015 and beyond, the “San Agustin” will be used in commemorative events, good will and marketing tours, re-enactments, and public display in St Augustine. It will be operated as a heritage tourism venue , an educational focal point, a sailing training vessel, and a continuing symbol of St Augustine’s maritime heritage.