Fountain of Youth Hosts Building of the Chalupa

I saw the biggest chalupa in my life Thursday night.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me clarify – we aren’t talking tacos here!  Chalupa is Spanish for “little boat”. 

But the “little boat” taking shape at St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth is not so little!!  It will be thirty-seven feet long, have 10 oars, a rudder and two masts!  The boat-building project is being coordinated by the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation who know how to cast a vision, build a boat and have a good time- as I learned this week at their Building the Chalupa fundraiser. 

Below, SAMHF board member Bill Coleman pauses for a photo with 1500’s explorer Juan Ponce de Leon- who obviously did discover the Fountain of Youth!  ;)

It was pouring Thursday afternoon when I first saw the chalupa.  Tropical Storm Beryl was having her last hurrah as we sloshed through standing water toward the Intracoastal waterfront.

As the rain lessened, SAMHF members and devoted guests started to explore the under-construction boathouse & chalupa frame inside.  Constructed with the same tools & techniques used in the 1600’s, you step back in time as you explore this living history exhibit at The Fountain of Youth.

This unique boat-building project boasts historical importance past and present.  A similar craft was used to bring Spanish explorers to this exact place on Florida’s coast 450 years ago!  When you visit the Fountain of Youth and look out over the marsh toward the inlet, you’re taking in the same panorama Juan Ponce de Leon enjoyed and countless others have appreciated since.  As for the future historical importance, next May the King & Queen of Spain will be escorted into St. Augustine in this very boat!

A rainbow replaced the storm clouds as board member Roy took the mike to share the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation’s vision.  The chalupa taking shape in the boathouse is just the beginning!  The foundation next plans to build a full-sized Caravel {below} to accomplish the second and third of their 3 goals (1. Boat Building, 2. Education & 3. Advance St. Augustine’s Waterways).

The Building of the Chalupa social at the Fountain of Youth included a silent auction featuring gift certificates to local favorites such as The Black Molly and The Spice & Tea Exchange of St. Augustine, vacation time at a condo and a conniseur’s basket of California wines.  I need to go with some spending money next time!

DJs dressed in period costume reminded me of the Foundation’s goal- to build a love of maritime history into our city and inspire the next generation to understand the historic & current importance of our nation’s oldest port- St. Augustine, FL.

Learn more about the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation and find out how you can be involved through their website.

Go visit!  Take your children!!  This is history in the making!!!

The Fountain of Youth
11 Magnolia Avenue
open 9:00 – 5:00 daily
$12 adults/$8 ages 6-12/free for St. Johns County Residents

** I received one complimentary admission to this SAMHF event.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.**

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