Saturday, March 18, 2017, 9:00 AM: Membership Meeting, St. Augustine Art Association, St. Augustine, Florida.
Saturday morning found us at the St. Augustine Art Association where the Society conducted its first official membership meeting. 18 members were in attendance. A continental breakfast was provided by Flagler College Catering. We were welcomed by Elyse Brady the Director.
Following her welcome the Society spent the next hour discussing the following topics:
- The future of the organization and whether or not we should expand our focus beyond just the 17815 Fleet
- When and where to have future membership meetings.
- The structure of the organization…to keep it lean or more structured to include possibly an Advisory Board, A formal Board of Directors with voting power, Members at Large, Jr. Associate Members
- How to deal with inherent conflicts of purpose
- Membership dues and fees going forward to include perhaps special classes of members, such as a sustaining member.
It was agreed that our videographer would prepare a DVD of the meeting as a priority matter and then send it to me for review. Once reviewed, a summary would be emailed to all members. The Directors would then confer and make recommendations to the members.
The members were then treated to several presentations. Starting off was Fleet Society member Richard Beleson who entertained everyone with a power point presentation on his fascination with the 1715 Fleet. This was a remarkable historical account of how he was introduced to the famous diver and author Bob Weller and went from a Fleet enthusiast to an advanced collector of Fleet related material.
The second presentation was from Sergio Gonzalez, head of the Numismatic Museum In Havana Cuba. He talked about the Cuban Numismatic Museum collection. He provided a very interesting video to go along with his presentation. Also present at the meeting were Manuel Almeida and his wife, Teresa Victorero.
Saturday, March 18, 2017, 5:30 PM: Dinner, The Solarium, Ponce de Leon Hall, Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida.
Our final event of the Conference was dinner at the Solarium located in Ponce de Leon Hall. The site of our Conference lunches, the Solarium was the perfect spot for ending the week’s events.
Catered once again by Flagler College Catering and the able staff of Sue Baker, the cuisine and service were exceptional. About 45 people attended the dinner.
Although no formal program was planned there were a couple of brief announcements and presentations. Fleet Society member Rick Beleson presented a plaque to Director Ernie Richards to thank him for his many years of service to the shipwreck community through his publication of the Plus Ultra Newsletter.
He also presented Mr. Richards with a parker pen produced in the mid-60s by Parker Pen Company. This pen was made of silver recovered from the 1715 Fleet. The pen came in a small wooden presentation box with certificates signed by Kip Wagner. This wonderful gift was donated by Rick Beleson.
Rick also presented a copy of the Fleet Society’s recent publication, Treasures of A Lost Fleet, to our three guests from Cuba, Manual Almeida and his wife, Teresa, as well as Sergio Gonzalez. One book was presented to Manual and his wife and one book was presented to Mr. Gonzalez.
Following dinner, those in attendance were happy to witness the launch of a rocket from Cape Canaveral that could be seen from the veranda outside of the Solarium overlooking the city of St. Augustine. It was quite a sight indeed as you witnessed the glow of the rocket as it slowly emerged on the horizon and climbed into the night sky until it disappeared. The launch was quite unexpected but was a memorable addition to what otherwise was a memorable event.
As the guests slowly departed, I could not help but feel a little sad that the Conference was now officially over. I was happy to see a lot of my old friends again and to make new friends as well. I was particularly gratified to have our colleagues from Cuba be a part of this program. Speaking of Cuba, that is our next destination in 2020 when we have the 3rd International Conference on the 1715 Fleet.