In the Dec. 14, 2017 issue, Chasing Shadows ran the following article about a boat that was launched in Apalachicola. The launching announcement was originally published in the Times in Dec. 1927 when boatbuilding was an important local industry here and such announcements were commonplace.

New sponge boat launched by builder

The Apalachicola, a forty-foot sponge boat, which was constructed by Nick Anavigirov, in his shipyard at the end of Market Street, was launched yesterday.

Nick returned several weeks ago from a trip to Tarpon Springs, where the boat was sold for use in the sponging industry. The Apalachicola, which is one of a number of boats of the sponge boat type recently built by Anavigirov, is one of the largest and most modern vessels in this section. Nick is a newcomer to Apalachicola but has established a reputation as a first-class boat builder.

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That week, Chasing Shadows asked if anyone knew the ultimate fate of the sponge boat “Apalachicola.” To our great surprise and delight, Despina George immediately posted the following on Facebook:

“To answer Lois’ question of the week, the “Apalachicola” is now on display at the sponge exchange in Tarpon Springs, where its builder is now apparently misidentified as George Castrinos of Apalachicola.”

According to a sign posted at the Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange, the “Apalachicola” was renamed “Aegean Isles” at the time it was put on display. Despina then sent me the following article from the Tampa Tribune which she found online:

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Now Open

On the old Sponge Exchange site, a complex of shops designed with faux Cyclades architecture opened on March 16, 1983. To highlight local heritage, the owners bought, restored and displayed the sponge boat Apalachicola, renamed Aegean Isles. Nick Anargiou built the boat in Apalachicola in the late 1920s for Captain James Tsalichis of Tarpon Springs. It was sold to Miltiades Galanos in the 1940s and served as a rescue boat during World War II.

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Further investigation found that Nick Anarigon (Anargiou), a Greek shipbuilder, lived at 42 Avenue G in Apalachicola during the 1930 census. In addition, Joe “Snooky” Barber had told me about a Greek shipbuilder named Nick who worked at the end of Commerce Street.

Additional research found no record of anyone with the surname Castrinos ever having lived in Apalachicola. There was a shipbuilder named George Castrinos who lived in Fernandina Beach. He was born in 1927, the year the “Apalachicola” was launched. He would have been only age 7 in 1935, the year the current sign in Tarpon Springs says the “Aegean Isles” was launched as the “Apalachicola.”

A search of the Times archives revealed another interesting detail. Only about seven months of the Times for 1935 have survived, but I couldn’t find a single launching announcement between 1934 and 1936. What I did find were lots of articles about how depressed the economy was here. Either the paper stopped publishing launching notices, which would seem strange because surely that would have been good news during the Depression, or maybe nobody was building any new boats because nobody could afford to buy them.

During a recent trip to New Port Richey, I decided to visit the Tarpon Springs Historical Society with a copy of the 1927 article. I thought they might be interested. I went first to the visitor center, downtown, where I was put in touch via telephone, with “Helen” at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum who said the historical society would not be interested in the information and advised me not to come to the museum.

I went to the Sponge Exchange and found the “Aegean Isles.” I showed a copy of the Florida Memory Project picture to a handsome Greek gentleman who was watching a shop in the Sponge Exchange and got a surprise.

He looked at the picture of the “Apalachicola” taken in 1956 and then pointed to a boat tied up at the docks. He said that the boat in the picture was not the “Aegean Isles,” but appeared to be the other boat now named the “Tarpon Springs.”

After comparing the boats and the picture, I decided he was right. The 42-foot “Aegean Isles” doesn’t look like the boat in the 1956 picture, but the “Tarpon Springs” does.

The “Tarpon Springs” is one of a handful of sponge boats that Tarpon Springs renovated and has on display at the sponge docks for tourists to enjoy.