The Heritage Boatworks of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum have completed their latest boat building project, benefitting the Fort Mose Historical Society. The boatbuilders will officially donate a new Barca Chata at the monthly Militia Muster event on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at 9:30 AM. The new vessel will replace the one previously built for the organization by the boatbuilders in 2010. The Barca Chata was a Spanish flatboat typically used as a barge during the 17th and 18th centuries to haul items. Enslaved African men and women used similar boats to escape slavery in the Carolinas and make their way to Spanish Florida and freedom.
The Heritage Boatworks Program is a volunteer-run program of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, dedicated to keeping the traditions of boatbuilding alive in St. Augustine. The boatbuilders focus on construction projects, using exceptional craftsmanship to replicate boats common to North Florida waterways’ maritime history. Each December, the program hosts a boat drawing at the Museums annual Luminary Night event, where one lucky ticket holder receives a handmade boat. The proceeds from the ticket sales fund the program for the coming year.
Jane Mahoney, the Executive Director of Fort Mose Historical Society, approached Heritage Boatworks several months ago and asked them to complete a new Barca Chata for Fort Mose State Park. The boat will be in place by June when the historical society celebrates its 25th anniversary. “We’re very grateful for this unique and valuable donation from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum boatbuilders. We appreciate their expert craftsmanship and dedication to historical accuracy and detail. The boatbuilders have created an important interpretive element for the Park — one that will pique the interest of many Park visitors and serve as an important resource for telling the Fort Mose Story,” said Charles E. Ellis, President, Fort Mose Historical Society.
For more information about the Heritage Boatworks Program at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, please contact John Clarke, Maritime Activities Coordinator, at [email protected] or by phone at 904-829-0745 extension 201.