Reconstructing the Historic Boat Yard at The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

To create a replica of the experience of 16th century boatbuilding, there needs to be an appropriate setting. The Maritime Heritage Foundation is building  a replica boatyard along the waterfront at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in Saint Augustine, Florida.  The boatyard consists of three structures.  The first is the boat house –  where the ship construction actually happens.  This is a structure long and wide and tall enough to accommodate any hulls that we choose to construct.  This shed and the other two structures, a wattle and daub storage house, and a pit saw were constructed according to the historical records of the methods of the times.

The boat house will is an open covered space with a set of poles placed directly in the ground holding up a thatched roof providing shelter from the sun and the rain. The pitched roof is tied together with the techniques that were actually used in the early days of the settlement. The thatching is accomplished with locally-harvested palm leaves.

We continually update the Chalupa and astillero progress on our blog.

Wattle and daub construction consists of driving upright stakes into the ground at regular intervals and then weaving saplings between them to create a woven wall. This wall is then coated with mud to produce a solid surface.  This building will also have a pitched, thatched roof and will be able to be secured as storage for tools and supplies.

The third structure will be the frame to hold logs while they are being sawn into planks with a long straight saw pulled by two men – one above standing on the frame and one below in the pit, or area below the raised frame.

While most of the timbers for the frame were shaped using axes and adzes, the planking had to be sawn to a narrow enough thickness that it could be bent along the curved lines of the frame.

Chad Light rendering of the Astillero


The Site with the first sidewall post of the Boatshed now in place


7 poles standing


Boatshed roof structure being lifted into place

The roof structure is beginning to take shape, with king posts and now the first section of the ridge pole in place.

The full shape of the boat shed starting to show itself.


The Boatshed with cross beams and the Chalupa keel and stems in place for the Keel laying ceremony


The roof structure is fully in place. The five trusses that hold the rest of the rafters are finished.

The boatshed stands tall