Friday, July 29, 2011

Booty: Galvez Town Yesterday and Today

I'm always excited about a city that is eager to celebrate its piratical history. Fortunately, there are many such around the world. In the U.S. though, it seems that those most eager of all are along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Galveston, Texas and St. Augustine, Florida are both adding to their already impressive offerings of memorabilia so I thought I’d give the Brethren a heads up. The interesting thing is that both locales have a little bit of old Galvez Town in them.

First, Galveston: this island, originally known as St. Louis in the 16th century, was named after explorer Bernardo Galvez who staked it out for Spain. It remained uninhabited until the early 19th century when Louis Aury tried to establish an ill-fated privateering base there. The Laffite brothers mopped up Aury’s mess and turned the island into a thriving hub for privateers and smugglers alike.

Now a new Laffite-centric attraction will premiere at The Strand. According to this article from the Galveston Daily News, Joyce McLean is putting together an attraction she’s calling Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast. It will be built to resemble the deck and great cabin of a pirate ship and feature “… myths and legends…” of the Laffite brothers. Pirates! will also serve up information about Jane Long, the so called “Mother of Texas” who once dined with Jean Laffite. While Ms. McLean states that Pirates! will be a “… fact-based interactive, fun experience,” I’ll withhold judgment on the facts clause until my next visit to Galveston. I’ve absolutely no doubt about the fun, however.

Next up is this snippet from the St. Augustine Record. It goes without saying the oldest city in the U.S. has a long history of seafaring so it was probably no big surprise when three oak ribs of a sailing ship were found near Savilla Street. Though the article does not pin point a date, the ship is from the 18th century and the pieces are now in Malaga, Spain (home of one of the most talented artists I know). There they will form the base of a rebuilt replica of the ship named Galveztown. Interestingly, oak from the St. Augustine area is being used in her construction. Though the article is sketchy on details and manages to confuse a brigantine with a galley, the end result – if it is realized – will be a wonderful piece of living history. The vision is to crew Galveztown with a combined U.S. and Spanish crew and use it as a teaching vessel during cruises between Malaga and St. Augustine. Put me on the waiting list!

Header: The Strand at Galveston via Galveston Tourism


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! A trip to Galveston would be fun...

I'm surprised that they say the ship will be rebuilt and "sailing to St. Augustine in 2012". That seems pretty fast to me, but what do I know?

Pauline said...

I'd like to go sooner than later. And I agree on the Galveztown but the article does note it's a do over as far as the build is concerned so maybe they figure they've already made all their mistakes and it should go quickly. Maybe?