Apalachicola Maritime Museum Newsletter
January 2012
In This Issue
View from the Stern: A Year of Accomplishments
View from the Bow: Plans for a Paddle Wheeler
At the Helm: Greg LaSchum
Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Skip Arnold
From the Archives: Oystering by Sailboat

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2011 At a Glance

The museum reopened last April following a complete renovation of our facility.

We offered a variety of educational and recreational excursions.

Our beautiful new docks were the perfect venue for shrimp boils, oyster roasts, and other evening events.

Three staff members attended the WoodenBoat School in Maine.

Maritime author Robert Macomber sounding a conch shell on our dock.  The museum hosted a Friends of the Library event with Macomber as special guest.

Capt. Jim Edwards and his schooner on a sailing trip in Apalachicola Bay.

Capt. Pete Burgher, one of our outstanding volunteers.

Staff spent many weeks this summer working on the hull of our flagship vessel, Heritage of Apalachicola.  

Heritage with her new hull paint, ready to launch.

Heritage was a striking sight on her return sail to Apalachicola. 

Museum founder George Floyd with friends Jack and Anne Rudloe of the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, at one of many events on our docks.

Forgotten Coast native Michael Bodiford shared his knowledge of local history and wildlife on working waterfront and  estuary tours.

Boat building in our wooden boat shop.

George Floyd acquired his ancestral family home, built by riverboat captain Theodore Archibald Floyd in 1890. After renovation, the home will operate as both a bed and breakfast and as housing for visiting lecturers and guests of the museum.  



 Nautical Knots 101 by Capt. Pete Burgher  



Research & Education Director Augusta West with Project Impact students.
















Annapolis Wherry Completed in our Wooden Boat Shop



Craftsman Greg LaSchum has completed an Annapolis Wherry rowing shell to add to our fleet. 


This build-it-yourself kit offers thoroughbred performance on the water combined with breathtaking grace.


 Find out about how you can build this and other wooden boat models by clicking here






















From the Founder
Plan Now to Join Us on River Trip 2012, an Epic Kayak Adventure 

In 2012 we will host our fifth annual paddle trip from the start of the Apalachicola River at our 140-acre campus of the historic riverboat landing in Chattahoochee, Florida and travel eight days and 106 miles southward to the end of the river at the Museum Docks on the historic Apalachicola waterfront.  The trip will begin with a rally and camp out at the Chattahoochee Landing on October 26.  We will arrive in Apalachicola November 2, at the start of the Florida Seafood Festival where all paddlers will take part in the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony.  For the more ambitious paddlers, there is the option to begin the trip at Columbus, Georgia, one week and 145 miles earlier.  Participants would be able to start or stop at Chattahoochee, the approximate halfway point.


The Apalachicola River is the largest river in the state of Florida and fifth largest in all of North America.  It begins its journey to the Gulf of Mexico as the Chattahoochee River, springing from the mountains of North Georgia along the Appalachian Trail. Its southward journey is joined by the Flint River which joins the Chattahoochee near the Florida/Georgia/Alabama state lines. The confluence of these two rivers at Lake Seminole creates the Apalachicola, which flows uninterrupted into Apalachicola Bay and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


Cool nights, warm days and a moderate river temperature will beckon a hike through the woods or a swim.  This is a great time to camp on the sandbars while enjoying autumn in the sparsely developed river basin.  Learn about the flora and fauna unique to the basin from educational presentations along the way.  To traverse the river with only boat, paddle, and the spirit of adventure brings forth reconnection with the natural world and knowledge of river heritage.  We will explore the floodplains, streams, bluffs, tributaries and some of the communities along the river.  We will look at historical sites and the culture of river life.  You will experience the broad diversity of flora and fauna uniquely adapted to the flood plains and steep head ravines.   We will learn how reduced water flows affect the nutrient flow into the Gulf and the impact on productivity in the seafood harvest.  We will learn to know each other and the river one paddle stoke at a time. 


For more information, visit the RiverTrip Web Page, view the video from previous river trip or email us.  In order to sign up for the river trip, go to the RiverEcoLogic web store.


George Kirvin Floyd  

View from the Bow
The Return of a Paddle Wheeler to the Apalachicola River


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, paddle wheel boats were the primary mode of transportation on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system. In addition to passengers, they transported cotton, turpentine, merchandise, mail, and other goods.  


It is our vision to return a paddle wheeler to the river in the next few years, offering luxury charters with a small number of spacious cabins for overnight passengers, and also large group tours that are of a day or evening trip nature.  With many points of historical and ecological interest along the span of the river, the venture will expand our ability to provide unique tours that are both educational and recreational.  The new concrete museum docks have been constructed to moor our new vessel upon arrival and dockage at our Chattahoochee operations will provide the mooring facility upriver on the way to Columbus. 


We have begun planning discussions with naval architect Kevin Kerwin in Panama City on the design of an 88' vessel with a two foot draft that will be ideally suited for the shoal waters of the Apalachicola River.  Kevin has designed many vessels, from large ocean-going yachts to naval vessels and large commercial vessels plying the waters of the Mississippi.  Kevin is a maritime heritage enthusiast as well and is very passionate about this opportunity.  We are planning to hire on the crew necessary to build this vessel in either Chattahoochee or Apalachicola.  Once the steel hull and framework are constructed and fitted with power, we plan to build the cabins and finish work at the Apalachicola Museum docks.  We are planning to have Kevin do a number of presentations in Apalachicola and Chattahoochee to present the designs and seek local input.


A final worthy note is that museum founder George Floyd's grandfather (Albert Floyd), great grandfather (Theodore Archibald Floyd) and great great grandfather (Samuel Augustus Floyd) were all employed by the riverboat trade.  Albert Floyd was the boiler engineer on the last passenger paddlewheel boat, the J.W. Callahan, where he met his wife, Margaret Floyd, on her downriver passage from Bainbridge.  

Below are photos of one of the many steamers that once traveled the river system. 
 Pactolus in 1887.  This paddle wheeler made frequent trips between Columbus, Georgia, and Apalachicola. 

 Another view of Pactolus.  Note the freight on the main deck and passenger cabins above. 

The opulent dining room with the table set for a meal.   


For a taste of what river travel on such a boat was like, consider this excerpt from the Civil War recollections of Apalachicola resident Cora Mitchell.


My next recollection was that Apalachicola was to be abandoned as an army post. The blockade had shut up the port. All the soldiers were sent to the interior except a company of scouts, which was stationed about twenty miles away, near some "dismal swamps," and used to keep an eye on the coast, and report any unusual occurrence.


Of course, business was at a standstill, and many moved up to Columbus, Georgia, and other towns on the river. My brother-in-law decided to go to Columbus, and I was sent, too, in order that I might go to school.


The steamboat was crowded and, as it was at the time of a great flood, there was much to see and remember. The banks of the river were entirely under water, and sometimes the river was a large and continuous lake. Only those who have traveled on one of the Southern rivers can understand the romance and beauty of it all. The huge, moss-draped trees, the landings at night, with the crew singing their weird songs while unloading by the light of pine knots burning in wire cages.


The trip was none too long for my excited fancy.  


doryView from the Stern

2011 a Year of Accomplishments at the Museum


2011 began with a major renovation of our facility, a former seafood processing warehouse in the historic working waterfront district. Operations Manager Daniel Stewart led the transformation, creating a beautiful exhibit space and gift shop.  


Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, we were busy with evening events on our docks, sailing excursions, and a variety of educational and recreational cruises. 


In July, three of our staff traveled to the renowned WoodenBoat School in Maine for week-long courses.  We gained invaluable insight into running our own boat building and maritime education programs, which are now underway.


Our fleet of kayaks was expanded by specially constructed vessels of our own design made in Georgia using recycled plastic.  As the only kayak outfitter on the water in Apalachicola, we treated many visitors to guided kayak excursions, while others enjoyed exploring the estuarine areas just beyond our docks on their own.


Many long hours went into hull maintenance work on our flagship vessel, the 58-foot wooden ketch Heritage of Apalachicola.  She was hauled out at the boat yard in Carrabelle for weeks of grueling work.  We sailed her back home to the museum in October, making the passage along the gulf side of St. George Island accompanied by several playful dolphins.  Heritage is a museum exhibit in its own right as a beautiful example of classic wooden boat design.


Another exciting development was the acquisition by museum founder George Floyd of the home built by his great-grandfather, a riverboat captain.  Located on Avenue E in Apalachicola, it will house visiting lecturers and students of our wooden boat school, and will also welcome the general public as a bed and breakfast. The 1890 home will first undergo an extensive renovation. 


At the Helm

Capt. Greg LaSchum 


Greg LaSchum is not only one of our tenured boat building staff, but also an experienced mariner.  Greg captains the Starfish Enterprise on our full complement of excursions including estuary cruises, working waterfront tours, dinner cruises, and full moon cruises.  He has also sailed our flagship vessel, the 58-foot wooden ketch Heritage.


Growing up on a lake in Madison, Wisconsin, Greg was always fascinated by sailing.  But it wasn't until he was 21, when his brother bought an old 16-foot wooden sailboat that he got to try it firsthand.  It took a dozen tubes of caulk to keep it from sinking, but the brothers kept the vessel afloat and learned to harness the wind. 


Greg's introduction to boat building came in 1980, when he went to work for Nimphius Boat Company.  His general interest in carpentry soon grew into a passion for building wooden boats.  His career as a professional mariner began as a crew member aboard a 50-foot replica of a 1597 Dutch frigate called Red Lion, which operated on Lake Michigan.  He then sailed on the Californian, a 100-foot schooner, spent the next five years on tall ships, and earned his 100 ton license.


It was while sailing the waters of the Caribbean that Greg got his first introduction to Apalachicola, when he met and befriended Kristin Anderson.  He was invited to visit and hired to build a dinghy for Kristin's mother, Helen Hay Anderson, who enjoyed rowing and sailing the Herreshoff-designed boat.  After she passed away, the vessel was donated to the museum.  It is on display as a beautiful piece of traditional wooden boat craftsmanship.  


Greg's skills make him well qualified as the instructor for our wooden boat school, where individuals or groups can build their own small vessel.  He is also the instructor for our youth boat building program, teaching traditional maritime skills that once flourished in Apalachicola to a new generation.


This is Greg's second year at the museum.  He enjoys life in Apalachicola for its small town pace and cultural aspects.  His interests include kayaking, 3-D photography, nautical heritage, and participating as a stagehand at the Dixie Theatre.  This native of the Great Lakes region also appreciates our mild weather that makes it possible to bicycle year-round and enjoy sailing during the winter months.  And of course, the simple pleasure of life on the water. 


Volunteer Spotlight
Dr. Skip Arnold

We are honored to have Dr. Skip Arnold back for a second year of volunteering at the museum during an extended visit to the forgotten coast.  Skip hails from Sandusky, Ohio, where he was a Political Scientist at Heidelberg University before retiring. He is a past Commodore of the Sandusky Sailing Club, volunteers at the Sandusky Maritime Museum, and is a sailing instructor. 


Skip's wife, Dr. Mary Jane Hahler, taught romance languages at Bowling Green University.  As a Master Gardener, she also volunteers locally at the Orman House botanical gardens.  The couple travels to such faraway places as New Zealand, but they enjoy spending time in our historic, one-stoplight town for the feeling of being in "Old Florida."  We hope they continue to return to Apalachicola for many years to come.  Our community is enriched by their friendship and generous donations of time and talent.


Following is an account of Skip's volunteer experience with us in his own words. 


A Volunteer's Journal

By Dr. Skip Oliver


As I climbed on board the classic sailing vessel, brush & bucket in one hand and a garden hose in the other, I scanned the teak decks and varnished bright work for bird droppings. My job was to remove them, and make the boat presentable for visitors to the Apalachicola Maritime Museum. Boat cleaning and crewing on the historic ketch, the Heritage of Apalachicola, are part of my volunteer work for the Museum.


Yes it's true. After scaling the heights of academia, I have become a Boat Boy. How the mighty have fallen! Hey, just kidding. Actually, it is loads of fun. I think E. B. White expressed it well in The Wind In The Willows: "There is nothing half so much fun as messing around in boats."  Working for the Museum allows me to do that. The work may not sound glamorous, but to me it is a wonderful opportunity to do a bit of sailing-- for which I have an abiding passion-- as well as to learn something about the Forgotten Coast, and meet some interesting people.  


The Museum staff has also been very kind, taking us to their favorite oyster bars, and not subjecting my northern accent to excessive ridicule. In sum, I highly recommend volunteering at the Museum. There are many ways to make yourself useful, including crewing on Heritage (my personal favorite), greeting visitors and docenting, and of course the dreaded office work. There are even jobs for professors turned boat boys. 



 houseFrom the Archives

January Oystering, early 20th Century Style


This photo was taken in January, 1909, by famed New York photographer Lewis Hine.  Hine is best known for his iconic photographs of construction workers at the Empire State Building.  He took a series of photos in Apalachicola while en route from Columbus, Georgia, to other points in Florida on assignment.  He noted, "Boy shucking oysters he helped to catch."  Boys as young as 12 were employed in the oyster industry, often beginning work at 4 a.m. and laboring well into the day.  
Sails have long since been replaced by outboard motors on oyster boats. However, other than the mode of propulsion, oystering in Apalachicola Bay has not changed substantially compared to 100 years ago.  It is still physically demanding, hard work.  And it still brings forth from the sea the world's best oysters.