We are located on the west coast of Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. Caravel Chapter was organized in 1965 at Treasure Island, Florida. This barrier island community enjoyed an early history that included pirates, Indians, and buried treasure. The Timucuan Indians, known as mound builders, lived on what is now the Pinellas Peninsula and it’s adjacent barrier islands. A Timucuan burial mound was found on Treasure Island. In 2006, Caravel Chapter changed its meeting location to St. Petersburg, Florida.
A Caravel Is A Ship
We are often asked what our name represents. The word, Caravel, is a nautical term for several kinds of vessels, but more generally understood as a name for a 15-17th century small sailing vessel used by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers. The caravel was well-suited for a long voyage, because she was extremely maneuverable, and with her triangular sails, could make headway toward the wind. They measure 60 to 90 feet in length and weighed 50 tons or more, having three or four masts, usually lateen-rigged. Before the 17th century, caravels were brilliantly painted with a gilded figurehead.
During the 15th century, Prince Henry, the Navigator, sent caravels on voyages of discovery along the west coast of Africa. On March 28, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon first sighted the shores of Florida from the deck of his flimsy caravel. Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda headed an expedition in 1519, looking for an opening in the “South Sea.” For nine months his fleet of caravels combed the shore of the Gulf of Mexico from the tip of the Florida Peninsula up the west side to Mexico. Ponfilo de Narvacz, inspired by Pineda’s legends, organized an expedition in 1528, of five ships believed to be caravels, and landed not far from the present Treasure Island.