Events Calendar
View from the Bow
Wooden Boat Restoration Update
Summer Youth Boat Building Program
Upcoming Lecture Series

Like us on Facebook
Events Supported in Part By

Staff Contacts

Founder & Chairman

Research & Education Director

Operations Manager

Wooden Boat School Director

Museum Phone
(850) 653-2500

Our NEW Paddling and Rowing Center is set to open to the public!  

The property at the former Breakaway Lodge is once again set to open up as a public facility.  Since March, we utilized the property to store our steam launches and other pending wooden boat renovation projects such as the 38' gaff rigged Sharpie.  In addition we have been working for the last few months to construct a new Paddle and Rowing Center that will tie into the AMM operations at 103 Water Street.  Our grand opening is planned for July 7th.  We have approximately 100 boats that will allow paddle and rowing enthusiasts to journey the 3 miles down the big river to the AMM site or take the more adventurous 4 mile route through the Four Tree Cutoff and then south along the Little St. Marks into the past Little Bay, Towhead Island and back to the AMM by crossing the river just north of the bridge.  The trip can be completed in as little as an hour and a half by a strong paddler or take as much time as you want. 


We will run trips by having a registration and check in at the museum location at 103 Water Street followed by use of a shuttle van to take paddlers to the Breakaway Lodge property where selection of boats, paddles, PFDs are made and assistance with the launch.  Upon completing the trip at the AMM docks, paddlers simply leave all gear at the docks or on shore and then check in with the AMM Visitor Center to verify a safe return and then go to their cars parked nearby.  For large groups we will coordinate for parking at the Breakaway Lodge and provide van shuttle as necessary.  The cost is $20.  Alternatively, you can still take our museum based craft out and about at $10 for half day or $15 for a full day and explore the riverfront, Scipio Creek or Treasure Island (aka Little Towhead) just across the river.  All customers are required to carry a cell phone in waterproof container so they can contact the AMM in the event of an emergency.  The AMM has a rescue boat to aid paddlers in trouble.  Note that trips are contingent upon tide and weather conditions.  




Events Calendar

Independence Day Celebration! July 3, 2013.  Experience the largest Independence Day Celebration held in Historic Apalachicola with us. Last year fireworks returned to the riverfront and people lined up for miles; up and down Water Street, along Highway 98 and even across the river in Eastpoint! This year looks to be even better. The Historic Apalachicola Main Street Program in partnership with the City of Apalachicola, area businesses and community organizations will be hosting the celebration.  The AMM will be hosting two events.  Starting at 6:30 join us for a parade watching party featuring cocktails in the courtyard and free ice cream, with free admission. After the parade, join us on our docks for a cookout starting at 7:30 with live music as we gather to watch the fireworks show on the waterfront. We will serve both traditional and vegetarian burgers and dogs, plus sides. Visit our website for tickets, or call 850-653-2500 to reserve by phone.  Our docks will be one of the best spots on the river to watch the fireworks!


Grand opening of the AMM Paddling and Rowing Center!  July 7, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We will be providing free trips to AMM members on this day and hope that everyone will come out to sample this new way to experience the Apalachicola River.  The Open House is free, and refreshments will be served throughout the day, including hot dogs starting at noon.  Register to win prizes! 


Full moon paddle trips.  July 21st and 22nd.  A support vessel will accompany paddlers to help ensure safety.


Wooden Boat Building Classes available by request! Visit our Wooden Boat School web page, or email us for more information.


Boat Tours available daily!  A variety of educational and recreational tours and excursions.  Click here for more information.  Book online with promo code "webstore" and get 20% off!


View from the Bow
By George Kirvin Floyd
The completion of the restoration and launch of the antique paddlewheeler Jean Mary looms closer on the horizon. Donated to the AMM by actress Debbie Reynolds in May of 2012, she continues to move toward a launch in late summer, with much progress on the exterior carpentry above decks.  New tongue and groove pine has been used to replace all exterior walls along with new windows and doors.  The exterior walkways and trim are being completed and painted.  Interior carpentry is moving along as well with the completion of conduit runs for state of the art audio visual, internet and safety wiring runs.  Changes to interior electrical and bathroom configurations are in progress as are the furring strips that will be followed by tongue and groove cypress interior walls.  
On the hull, we continue to do final inspections and tweaking to the welds created during the initial re plating of the entire steel bottom.  Additional plating has been added for all impact areas such as the bow portion of the keel.  Testing with a 5,000 PSI water pressure system continues to be applied to all joints to verify hull integrity.  The new hydraulic system components including the bow and stern thrusters and motor have been received and the engine rebuilds are underway.  The same Live Oak stock used for the Golden Ball framing rebuild is being used to cut the 52 planks for the paddlewheel which are 2' thick by 6' long and 10" wide.  These will be placed on the newly constructed replacement steel paddlewheel which will be mounted after the replacement hydraulics are in place.  Repairs on the 43 whistle calliope is now underway where the brass pipes are being renovated, polished and tuned and the electronics which drive the system are being brought up to speed to enable use of pre-recorded digital classics and modern tunes as well as direct play via a keyboard by a qualified pianist.


Overall, progress continues well with our crew of roughly twenty craftsmen working in teams on the many different systems including welding, painting, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, navigation and hydraulics. Even with this large of a workforce, the enormity of the project makes progress sometimes appear slow in coming.  When one considers that work has been progressing steadily for over ten months and the scope of what has already been done, the project does look to be closing in on completion now.  Most of our team is well seasoned and our planning tools are helping to manage the close process through a detailed list of tasks organized by component and team and prioritized based on hours estimates and workflow planning.  Bringing all the many steps of the project to completion at the same time with this vessel has heightened our focus on utilization of the Gantt style planning charts which illustrate the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of the project. Terminal elements and summary elements comprise the work breakdown structure of the project and incorporate the dependency (i.e. precedence network) relationships between activities.  All of this relies heavily on thoroughly detailed tasks definitions and budgeting.  


A key advantage in these final months of the project is that we expect very few new surprises that have required the reassessments and led to the delays experienced in earlier stages of the renovation project.  All of this is to say that the launch date is becoming ever more certain as we close in on it.  Excitement is building among the team and everyone involved.  We have not purchased the bottle of champagne for the bow christening yet, but that day is now clearly on the immediate horizon.


New tongue and groove pine exterior walls and new windows in place



Painting of the trim on the pilot house.



Custom final trim prior to painting




Interior cabin work underway with overhead conduit runs in orange, new bathroom configurations and electrical



Furring strips in place ready for cypress tongue and groove wanescoting.



Engine room bottom work complete and being primed while engines and generators have been removed for rebuild



 Editor's Note: Renowned Naval Architect Jack Hargrave was the designer of this vessel. Originally commissioned for a family in Alabama, she was designed to capture the beauty and romance of the age of paddlewheelers while incorporating modern conveniences.  After changing owners a couple of times, Jean Mary was purchased by actress Debbie Reynolds. Unfortunately, her beloved boat sank in 2008. Ms. Reynolds donated the boat to the Maritime Museum so that she would be restored to her former splendor. Below is the text of a newspaper article about the boat's sinking from the St. Augustine Record:


Debbie Reynolds' boat sinks

'Jean Mary' was carrying antiques to Tennessee museum

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Movie star Debbie Reynolds, who played the lead role in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," bought a boat a few months ago. It sank on Friday in Green Cove Springs.  Reynolds, an actress, singer and dancer who came to fame in the 1950s and continues to perform, is also known for her collection of movie memorabilia that will become part of the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum next year in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.


And that's where her antique-filled boat was supposed to be headed on Wednesday.  "It was an adorable boat," Reynolds said, in a telephone interview from California. "You know, just really as cute as anything could be."  She said she still didn't understand why a boat would go down.  "When you have antiques you don't dip them in water," Reynolds said.


Todd Fisher, Reynolds' son, said "Jean Mary" was featured on television as one of the world's top 10 finest houseboats.  Fisher said he's seen the salvaged boat from a live video feed.  "It's pretty hammered," he said in a telephone interview from his office in California. "When I told her, she burst into tears."


John Hall, vice president of Mobro Marine in Green Cove Springs, said his team used a 450-ton crane to salvage the boat. Part of the boat was sitting in eight feet of water while docked at Reynolds Park Yacht Center a mile away.  Hall said deterioration on the side of the 75-foot-long boat must have been overlooked when the boat was surveyed. That created a hole big enough to sink it in about 10 minutes.  When lifting the boat out of the water, Hall said, his crew was careful not to damage it any further.  "It's decked out with super-expensive stuff," he said, adding that it is not uncommon for boats to sink.


Fisher, also CEO of the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, said about $100,000 worth of antique furniture was in the boat.  "'Gone With the Wind' Victorian furniture could've been in there," he said, laughing.


Reynolds' museum will hold the world's largest private collection of Hollywood memorabilia.  Fisher said his mother visited the $350,000 boat that was docked in St. Augustine by the previous owner.


"The family that owned it before put a lot of work into it for years and years," Reynolds said. "We were looking forward to living on it. We would sit out on the deck and sing and dance."


The plan was to float the boat up to Tennessee. Reynolds was to sing with her band on the boat around the museum as a publicity tour in October for a partial opening of the museum.  Fisher said he still would have to figure out if the amount of repair the boat needs is worth it.


Reynolds said she wouldn't replace a boat "you can't top." She said she would focus on filling up the 40,000-square-foot museum while on tour for the next couple months.  "You can see I won't be going by boat," Reynolds said.


Reynolds, an award-winning actress, has been acting for the past six decades and still performs.  Alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor, she performed in the musical "Singin' in the Rain."  She received an Oscar nomination for her lead role in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."


She started a nonprofit corporation, Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, to preserve thousands of items she bought in an MGM auction in 1970.  Her collection includes dresses worn by Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.


by George K. Floyd


Brian Kennedy and George Boszilkov are the instructors in the Large Craft program of our Wooden Boat School.



 Our large craft restoration activities are taking place just down the street at 81 Water Street at the 6,600 square foot, two-story tin building constructed by William Popham in the 1920s and the large white hoop structure recently erected just south of that.  These facilities were purchased in 2010 with funding provided by the Florida Communities Trust using Stan Mayfield funding from the State of Florida.  The large craft program has two active projects underway.  


First is the restoration of Robert Baker designed Clipper Bow Gaff Sloop originally built in Rockport, Maine which arrived at the AMM in April.  This boat reflects the Wooden Boat Renaissance in North America which captured the lines from traditional sailing craft in their designs.  She is 20 ft. 2 in. LOA (Length Overall), 18ft.2 in. LWL (Length at Waterline), 7 ft. 6 in. Beam and Draft of 2 ft. (board up) or 4 ft. 6in. (board down).  She is constructed with cedar planking riveted on steam-bent white oak frames; decks are canvas over tongue-and-groove pine; cock pit coaming and other trim is varnished white oak.   The restoration began with an overall re-moistening process with a borax and water mix to swell planking and to reveal issues which developed during her long out of the water storage prior to arriving at the AMM.  We have added splines to the rudder to overcome splits and are replacing other split or deteriorated wood.  We will soon be implementing the painting renewal process that takes advantage of the latest in protection and anti-fouling products on through to renewing the bright work with varnish products incorporating UV filters.  We expect this process to be completed for a July launch where she will be added to our fleet of traditional wooden vessels that will be on display and available for visitor excursions.


Work on the Golden Ball, our 46 ft. Herreshoff designed wooden leeboard ketch, is also making good progress.  The new bow stem is being traditionally built by hand cut and shaping from a single piece of regionally grown old growth Live Oak. The stock was selected at the saw mill to have the sweep, or curve, of the grain match the lines of the bow to maximize strength by minimizing cross grain cuts in shaping. The bow stem rabbet is being fitted to accept a flush join to the hood ends of the planking that terminates at the stem to give a fair join.  Soon we will begin construction of the fore keel which will be fitted between the bow stem and the lead keel.  The framing will then transition to the stern into an area known as the deadwood between the lead keel and the rudder and then on to individual internal frames running from keel to the sheer strake.  Once all framing is completed we will proceed with the steam bent planking process.  To see the old growth Live Oak and Longleaf Pine stock that is curing on site and the craftsmen employing traditional methods and tools in this renovation provides a glimpse back in time when this kind of traditional boatbuilding was common in Apalachicola and perhaps a glimpse into the future where Apalachicola and our surrounding communities will once again come to be known as a source for distinctive and high quality boat building and renovation work to serve a global market. 


We welcome everyone to come by for a visit to both of the two AMM wooden boat building operations on Water Street to observe, chat with the craftsmen or to become involved in growing our traditional boat building economy into a vibrant part of our river and coastal communities.  As education is the core mission of the AMM, we provide plenty of opportunities for volunteers of all ages, genders and abilities to get hands-on experience on almost all phases of the construction and restoration programs.  From the lightest and simplest handiwork to the most technically challenging aspects of true traditional boatbuilding we encourage everyone to look at this connection to our heritage which will grow into new diverse economic opportunities.  Volunteers have the ability to re-live a centuries-old tradition of boatbuilding, working side-by-side with highly experienced shipwrights of the AMM who enjoy the teaching process.  This is an opportunity to learn something new and generate unique memories to last a lifetime.



Old Growth Live Oak and Longleaf Pine timbers being used in the Golden Ball Renovation



The freshly cut new bow stem prior to being being shaped.


The bow of the Golden Ball with the old bow stem removed and waiting for the new.


The gaff rigged sloop with renovations underway.


Summer Youth Boat Building Program
The AMM in conjunction with the Project Impact After School Program of the Franklin County Public Schools and Franklin County Charter School started this program in April.  In this initial phase, the students constructed scale models of the pirogue at 1/6th of actual size.  A pirogue is a small, flat-bottomed boat of a design that allows easy movement through the very shallow water of marshes.  A pirogue has "hard chines" which means that instead of a smooth curve from the gunwales to the keel, there is often a flat bottom which meets the plane of the side. The pirogue is usually propelled by paddles but can also be managed with a push pole in shallow water.  The vibrantly painted models created by the students are on display at the AMM.  The models were also on display during the Antique and Classic Boat Show in April, where they were admired by many.


Earlier this month, the students began the adventure of building two full-sized versions of the pirogue under the direction of Wooden Boat School staff. The students are learning lofting techniques, the use of measuring tools such as tape measures, builder's squares and bevel gauges, and the use of hand tools including planes, spokeshaves, and small power tools.  Mathematics including measuring, angles, and geometry are included in the instruction. This is part of our hands-on teaching approach that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into the process of learning traditional boat building skills. Our Wooden Boat School Director, Ron Dierolf, brings a focus on math and science to the program by translating traditional techniques such as lofting into mathematical equation solving.  Ron is a retired engineer and teaches mathematics at Gulf Coast State College. 


Project Impact Director Faye Johnson reports that the kids are learning a lot, having fun, and gaining a sense of accomplishment.  The boats will be available to the students for recreation upon completion.  


The pirogue,our simplest and most popular boat. and many other designs are also available in boat building courses open to the public. Ideal for couples, families, or small groups, build a boat of your own to take home. Building sessions take two to three days and are being scheduled for July and August with classes filling rapidly. We are now also offering boat building classes for a fifteen foot plywood skiff. This boat can carry two to three adults and be built in either a rowing, motorized or sailing configuration. The rowing or motorized version can be built in five to six days with the sailing version requiring an extra two to three days.  We also offer classes for a variety of vessels constructed with stitch and glue techniques including stand up paddleboards, kayaks, rowing shells and sailing / rowing dinghy.  We have examples of all the boats we are using in our classes on site at the at the light craft workshop located within the AMM facility at 103 Water Street.


Check out our website for our wooden boat building course offerings.  If you have questions, please email Ron Dierolf or stop by the museum.  We enjoy having visitors and would be happy to discuss your ambitions and help you build the boat of your choice.  


Planning Underway for the Upcoming Fall/Spring Lecture Series

Give us your feedback!  What topics would you be interested in learning more about?  During our last series, we hosted archaeologists, authors, historians, professors, and even shanty singers. For our next series, we plan to invite back some of our favorites while also covering fresh ground. 

Please click here to email us  with your suggestions for future lecture topics or speakers.

Join Our Mailing List