The San Cristobal, a Spanish bergantin, was one of the ships of the Ponce de Leon Expedition to Florida in 1513.
In early 2013, St. Augustine celebrated the 500th Anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s legendary expedition to Florida’s coast. Three ships, the Santiago, the San Cristobal and the Santa Maria de la Consolacion, set out from Puerto Rico on March 4, 1513. The fleet crossed open water until April 2, 1513, when they sighted land which Ponce de León believed was another island. He named it La Florida in recognition of the verdant landscape and because it was the Easter season, which the Spaniards called Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers).

In early Spring this year, three ship models were loaned to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. The models are owned by the State of Florida who graciously allowed the Museum to put them on display during St. Augustine’s Ponce de Leon celebration.
The models of the Santiago, the San Cristobal, and the Santa Maria were built by master modeler, Steve Harris. These are a type of model referred to as “scratch built”. This means there is no boxed or packaged pre-made kit involved. The model is built using diagrams, schematics, photos and whatever other information can be found. That information is then used to build the model using bare wood. Pieces are drawn out, cut, sanded and pieced together to form the ship. Often times, scratch-built models are not to scale for a variety of reasons, including lack of historic information or other documentation.
This model of the Santiago is one of the collection of scratch-built ships of the Ponce de Leon collection.
The detail of these three models in beautiful. Ships boats were included, rigging and sails were done and even figures of people were hand-crafted for the ships. We thank each of you who stopped to see these wonderful models and hope you enjoyed your visit!
A close-up view of the detail on the model of the Santa Maria, built by Steve Harris.