Monday, July 30, 2012
It will have been 297 years to this date that a treasure fleet disaster of epic proportions occurred off the Central Florida coast.
In 1715 a fleet of ships carrying treasure from the New World to Spain was destroyed in a huge hurricane. It was in the evening of July 30, 1715 , seven days after departing from Havana, Cuba, eleven of the twelve ships of this fleet were sunk dumping their precious cargo of gold, silver and other expensive commodities along Florida’s East Coast. Most of the ships went down in the Fort Pierce and Wabasso beach ares but many experts agree that there is evidence that some wrecked further North. Nearly 700 sailors perished while a small number survived by drifting ashore on wreckage and lifeboats.
Spain immediately sent their salvage ships, employed local Indians for salvage work, and then
came the pirates that helped themselves. The British governor of Jamaica sent out his left-hand man Henry Jennings but the sight of all treasure turned him into a privateer,and later a full pirate. This event launched the dawning of the “Golden Age of Piracy on the Caribbean. Decades later the legend faded away only to leave evidence in oral stories and a map notation by Englishman Bernard Romans.
Rumors abound and perhaps some private discoveries were made but it wasn't till the early 1960's that a retired building contractor by the name of Kip Wagner made the find of a lifetime. It all started when he found some little flat black stones that he would skip along the water until somebody told him that that was Spanish silver coins he was throwing. Kip did some investigating and bought a metal detector and found more. One thing led to another and the right eight people with the right skills got together and formed a company called the Real Eight Company. The word was out and gold and silver were on a lot of people's minds. Even the state of Florida got involved and proper salvage operations began.
To be continued; The Treasure Map which marked the spot, the National Geographic Society get involved, a Treasure Exhibit and more.