By Harvey Rice
June 8, 2010, 9:22PM
GALVESTON — Sam Turner had no idea where he was going to get enough live oak to supply Spanish shipwrights building a replica of the 1779 brig Galveztown, named after Galveston, Texas.
Then Hurricane Ike swamped the city Sept. 13, 2008, killing an estimated 40,000 trees with salt water.
“This project got kicked off in May 2008, and Ike hit in September, and the connection was made that there is a lot of wood there,” said Turner, archeology director for the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum in St. Augustine, Fla.

Galveston’s sorrow made available the hard-to-find live oak, valued by the builders of wooden ships for its strength and resistance to rot. By a quirk of fate, the city founded and named after Spanish Gen. Bernardo de Galvez is contributing the wood that will help rebuild a replica of its namesake. Galveston is a corruption of the original Galveztown, Turner said.
Workers in Galveston today are expected to begin loading about 210 tons of live oak into 30 containers that will be trucked to the Port of Houston, Turner said. The 20-foot, open-top containers will be loaded on to the cargo ship Maersk Kentucky, which will depart June 22 for the Astilleros Nereo shipyard in Malaga, Spain.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum’s Heritage Boatworks, which aims to keep the ancient art of wooden shipbuilding alive, partnered with Astilleros and other organizations to build the Galveston replica. Turner said the finished ship is expected to visit Galveston next year, and there is talk of making the island city a home port for the Galveztown. In addition to preserving the shipbuilding craft, the project is intended maintain and improve U.S.-Spanish relations.
Jill Brooks, chairwoman of the Texas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s historic preservation committee, said her organization is raising money for the Galveztown project because Galvez was a hero of the American Revolution.
Galvez was governor of Spanish Louisiana when the American Revolution began. He furnished ammunition, money and food to the revolutionaries and drove the British from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida.
At the battle of Pensacola in 1781, he ordered the Galveztown to run a gauntlet of British artillery after the admiral of the Spanish fleet balked at crossing shallow water into Pensacola Bay. Shamed, the admiral then followed with his fleet.
The Galveztown was originally the British Sloop West Florida. American Cpt. William Pickles captured the ship and it was eventually sold to the Spanish. Refitted as a brig, it became the Galveztown.