Friday, December 09, 2005

A Sea Change

(Top pics = west bank, same view 1980's on left, today on right)
(Bottom pics = east bank, 1980's on left, today on right)

A while ago, I wrote about missing shrimpboats. Florida still has shrimpboats of course, but the hustle and bustle of docks lined with shrimpboats is least in St. Augustine. As the birthplace of commercial shrimping, the bay at St.Augustine and the docks along the San Sebastion River were once lined with trawlers.

The San Sebastion River forms the western boundary of colonial St. Augustine and was the heart of the shrimping industry. Where the King Street bridge crosses the river, several fish markets existed that handled the shrimp and fish bycatch that came off the trawlers. Farther down the San Sebastion there was an ice house that provided block ice for the shrimpers.

Near the mouth of the San Sebastion, boatyards serviced and built the shrimp trawlers. From the world famous Desco boatyard, shrimp trawlers sailed to ply their trade from Virginia to Ecuador. It was truly the center of the shrimping universe.

Today, the boatyards build high end yachts, not fishing boats. There are new docks along the San Sebastion, but they are lined with pleasure boats, not work boats. The fish houses are gone and their docks are sagging and not long for this world.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, the afternoon light was too good to pass up as we drove past the empty docks where the fish houses had stood. I jumped out and took these comparison shots.

The shots on the left of the collage are mid-1980's. The empty shots to the right are the same location today.

Change happens and history and culture are lost if we are not careful about how we change things. A once vital part of Florida's culture has vanished from this place and even my own children with strong ties to St. Augustine aren't fully aware of what went on here.

It only takes a generation to forget.

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thingfish23 said...

One. ONE generation.

Seems in these quickening times, we even forget faster.


Zanne said...

Beautiful photographs, but sad.

And sadly you are correct. Only one generation. Down the line will the kids of today wax poetic about the missing luxury yard boat yards. You wonder.

Floridacracker said...

Sometimes I feel like a Calusa watching the "big canoes" come sailing into the bay...

Someone before me lamented the passing of sail and the advent of steam, and so it goes...