Emanuel Point Shipwreck, Florida (1559)

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!Construction Feature!!Sided cm)!!Molded (cm)
!Construction Feature!!Sided (cm)!!Molded (cm)

Latest revision as of 16:33, 3 December 2010



Presumably one of Tristan de Luna’s ships from the expedition to Florida in 1559. Seven ships were lost then at Pensacola Bay during a storm on the 19th of September. The Emanuel Point Shipwreck was found in 1992 by the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research and excavated between 1993 and 1996 under the direction of Dr. Roger Smith.

Field Work

About forty percent of the entire hull was uncovered for interpretation during two intense campaigns. The study of those timbers has not yet been completed. A final report with additional information is being prepared for publication. At this stage, only the ends of the hull have been studied, so the framing plan and other central details remain unknown. All frames in evidence were canted. The hull was not uncovered far enough aft to reveal square frames. Among the finds were filling pieces between frames, two port covers, a stemson, footwales, an anchor, a rudder and rudder hardware, and a cross-bow. The hull was sheathed in lead. 1

Description of the Site

The ballast mound measured 16 x 8 m and covered only part of the extensive remains of a ship, which were scattered over an area of around 30 x 10 m.

Keel, keelson, maststep and posts

Keel estimated to have been 23.6 m long, is 22 cm sided amidships, and seems to taper in its sided dimension from 28 cm on the bow to 20 cm at the stern. At the bow, where it was measured, it was found to be 29 cm molded. There is no knee (couce) linking the keel with the sternposti nor it appears to be a skeg. The keelson has en estimated length of 19.2 m and is 34 cm sided amidships tapering in both directions, being 22 cm at the bow and stern. It starts with a scarf on the stemson, and ends against the first Y-frame, the 10th from the stempost. The maststep is an enlarged portion of the keelson 2.1 m long, 49 cm sided and 39 cm molded, with a 94 cm long mortise, 22 cm sided and 20 cm deep. There were 4 buttresses on each side of the maststep. Two sections of the sternpost were preserved as well as a small portion of the stem. The sternpost is 25 cm sided and 35 cm molded and rakes 60º aft. The stem presents a vertical flat scarf linking its lowermost section to the keel. It is 30 cm sided and 31 molded in the lower preserved section, and 28 cm sided and 28 cm molded in the upper one, indicating that it tapers upwards. It is not known if the stem curve is tangent to the keel at its lower end or if it starts at an angle.


Since the wreck was not fully excavated many questions remain unanswered about its framing details. The (only) midship floor is fastened to two pairs of futtocks, fore and aft, determining the framing pattern – the futtocks joined to the faces of the floors that look to the extremities of the ship. It is placed exactly below the forward end of the mortise of the maststep. The floors were fastened to the first futtocks with dovetail joints. Where it could be observed there was at least one treenail driven horizontally and the ends of the floors were recessed to allow nailing. Floors were 18-20 cm sided and 18 cm molded at the ends. It is mentioned on the 1993 report that the floors were 25 cm molded over the keel, but since these molded dimensions should vary I think that it only refers to the floors observed amidships. Room and space was 36-38 cm. First futtocks were placed c. 65 cm from the center of the keel and are 18-20 cm sided and 19 cm molded. At the stern eleven frames were recorded. Of these the last ten were Y-frames, meaning that the keelson ends over the eleventh floor from the sternpost. The last seven sit on the stern knee. They were 10 to 30 cm sided, raked slightly aft except one, and had different molded dimensions over the keel – as it was to be expected. Room and space varies between 32 and 44 cm. At the bow all lower frames cant slightly forward.


The planking was 7.5 cm thick. The garboard was 28.5 cm wide at the bottom of the pump well. It was fastened with nails and treenails.

Ceiling, Thick Stuff and Wales

Four strakes of ceiling run between the keelson and one footwale. They are 5-7 cm thick and 31-34 cm wide. The footwale is 18.5 cm sided and 15-16 cm molded. Filling pieces were placed between frames at the bow.


Iron nails and spikes of seven different types. Treenails  26-31 cm. Bolts  2.7 cm and 28.6 to 44 cm. Sheathing tacks have shanks 4-5.5 mm square and heads 2-2.4 cm in diameter, and were spaced 3-7 cm.


Lead sheathing of the seams with 1-3 mm thick, 6 to 21 wide and 7-75 cm long may covered the whole hull. All the diagnostic pieces (a chosen sample of 35 pieces) have distinct rows of tack holes, most of them 3, on the edges and in the center, the tacks being driven into the seam. They were used to cover the seams and hoods where they joined the stem and sternposts. Some bear the marks of a fabric.


Is consistent with the Caribbean basin or the Mediterranean region. Waits for further analysis.

Size and Scantlings

The estimated length of keel is 23.6 m, for an estimated overall length of 34.6 m, a beam of 9.48 m, and a depth in hold of 4.55 m. These values lead to an estimated capacity of 418-441 tons.

Construction Feature Sided (cm) Molded (cm)
Keel 28-31-22-20 29
Keelson 22-35-22 29
Maststep 47 39
Floors 18-20 18
Futtocks 18-20 19
Room-and-space 36-38 36-38
Planking 14-33 7.5
Ceiling 31-34 5-7
Maststep 47 39
Stem post 31-28 30-28
Stern post 25 35


One piece of the stem was raised for study and found to be oak.


1. Richard Steffy, INA Shipdata Project, Texas A&M University.

Smith, Roger C., Spirek, James, Bratten, John & Scott-Ireton, Della, The Emanuel Point Ship: Archaeological Investigations, 1992-1995, Preliminary Report, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, 1995.

Smith, Roger C., Bratten, John R., Cozzi, J. & Plaskett, Keith The Emanuel Point Ship: Archaeological Investigations, 1997-1998, Preliminary Report, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, 1998.

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