Brass and wood aboard the Quark.
The ketch Quark came into St. Augustine’s waters this week for a brief stay. Fortunately for us here at the Lighthouse, the boat’s crew has good taste and a mind for all things historical. They visited the Lighthouse. It was here at the LAMP office we first met George Floyd, owner and master of this amazing wooden boat. He came into the LAMP office to discuss his ventures into a Maritime Heritage Museum in Apalachicola. Towards the end of our chat, he dropped the bomb to say he was currently in town on board his reproduction ketch, docked a few cables length away at the Conch House Marina. An invitation was all we needed to go see and tour this piece of replicated history.

A view from the stern.
We met the crew, minus one on provender duty, dockside and didn’t need but a moment to pick out the Quark from the rest of the masts and flying bridges at the marina. While waiting to go on board a small pod of dolphins provided a nice show for us by schooling baitfish and then thrashing their way through. Quite a display!
View from amidships, note the dolphin in the left background.
Very soon we were on board and noting the complexity of the sailing rig as well as her tender, a beautiful dinghy riding on her painter at the bows. Mimicking the mother hen, this small boat was similarly adorned with high levels of polished teak, scuff-less paint, and brightwork.
Quark‘s dinghy riding at the bow. Quickly convertible to sail.
Now, when I say replicated, I cannot understate the high quality of craftsmanship evident throughout the vessel. The deck of the Quark was a well-organized sea of brightwork and well-varnished teak. Rigging, both running and standing, was well appointed with whipping and bronze fittings. The masts, both of wood and delicately kerfed, also gleamed with the bright midday sun and were topped of by a Nantucket Whaling Museum pennant, more about this later.
The bow. Note the intricate carving, for which Herreshoff boats were famous.
At 45’ long, the Quark was constructed by the Brooklin Boat Yard of Brooklin, Maine in 2002. She resembles to a ‘t’, minus modern amenities and navigational upgrades, a Herreshoff boat from the early 20th century. Nathaniel Herreshoff, an illustrious boatbuilder in Bristol, Rhode Island, designed many successful yacht, punt-hulls, scows, ketches, fin-keelers, and other sailing craft during the late 19th century and into the 20th century. A powerhouse in American sailing design, the Herreshoff family drew up plans for several America’s Cup defenders and other notable quick-sailers. The Quark represents a mid-sized Herreshoff design and demonstrates the beautiful and sleek lines of the Herreshoff family, most notably and recently L. Francis Herreshoff.
On board and inside. L-R: LAMP’s Sam Turner and Chuck Meide, Quark‘s Scott Harden (crew), Cpt. Rod Baker (sailing master), George Floyd (Master and Owner)
As we were invited below to tour the doghouse all eyes were glued to the efficient and welcoming living space. An integrated galley, wardroom, and berthing space was set off by the clear influences of New England efficiency and elegance. Overhead supports were laminated white oak, cabinetry and woodwork of varnished mahogany, and deck planking of teak-in-the-white. Forward, a cabin was similarly outfitted with berths and a small library. A small cabin heater, chronograph, barometer, clinometer, and thermometer in the old style of brass bezel and crystal demarked a clear mixing of old and new when juxtaposed to the computerized navigational systems, broadcast by flatscreen to the cockpit.
View of the cockpit and entrance to cabin.
The crew, hailing from diverse places, included one Swede, one Texan, one sixth generation Conch from Key West, and one from the Clearwater area. Rod Baker, the sailing master and captain for this leg of the voyage, entered our names into the Quark’s registry as George explained the name of the ship. Quarks, hypothetical particles with an etymology going back to James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, form part of a complex theoretical physics conundrum known as string theory. As part of this theory quarks make up the ‘strings’ floating in a space-time much unlike conventional dimensional understandings and have been hypothesized to allow a form of time travel. Thus, this ketch mimics a real quark’s ability to float through the seas and allows one to drift back into a time where wooden boats ruled the waves.
The ketch’s name board on a beautifully rounded transom.
Other stories from the crew included a recent event of weathering bad seas off of the aptly named Cape Fear, North Carolina. Fighting the tiller and shipping water through the redesigned (not period hardware) portholes, the Quark was once overtaken by a rogue wave. Apparently a roller on the port beam engulfed the deck, submerging it long enough for water to seep into the fuel tank vent. While making way for the nearest safe port, they realized water had filled the primary fuel strainer and was now entering the secondary stage on the engine. Fortunately, once at dock, they just happened to meet a trained diesel mechanic who was able to fix the problem.
We climbed back on the weather deck and as our eyes adjusted to the harsh brightness we said our goodbye’s to the crew and expressed our thanks. After having sailed down from Maine the Quark is bound for the Bahamas. One more thing, that infidel flag of the Nantucket Whaling Museum has now been replaced. The St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum pennant trails as the Quark stand out to sea!
Full compliment! (Scott Harden, Sam Turner, Chuck Meide, Rod Baker, George Floyd, unid. neighbor, Brendan Burke