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The Manila Galleons: Treasures For The "Queen Of The Orient"

by Ellsworth Boyd
The Manila Galleons: Treasures For The ”Queen Of The Orient”

Picture if you will, a four-deck, 100-gun, 2,500-ton vessel crossing the Pacific loaded with treasure and not making landfall for six months. Picture it as short and broad—with high fore and stern castles—carrying so much silver and gold it draws 40 feet of water while skirting coral reefs 30 feet deep. It’s no wonder that close to 100 of them sank from 1570 to 1815, leaving a trail of treasure across the globe, while enhancing the image of adventure on the high seas aboard the MANILA GALLEONS.
Nowhere in the annals of the Spanish Empire’s colonial history did a treasure fleet attract so much intrigue and notoriety for its precious cargoes bound for the Far East. Maritime historians continue to pay homage to these vessels and their influence on international commerce for over 200 years. These were the largest ships afloat, plying long and risky routes. Convoys of two to five ships left Acapulco, Mexico, setting sail for the Spanish colony of Manila in the Philippines. On an average, three to five million silver pesos were shipped annually from Mexican mints to Manila, the “Queen of the Orient.” The sliver and gold was waggishly referred to as “silk money.” Silk stockings were prized by the fashionable Spanish gentry in Mexico and Spain. But the silver and gold bought other lavish exports as well. They came from all over the Far East: spices, Ming Porcelain, opals, amethysts, pearls and jade. There were art treasures, ebony furniture, carved ivory and other exquisite rarities found only in China, Japan, India, Burma and Siam.
The galleons, after a long and laborious return voyage eastward, often made landfall around Cape Mendocino, California, and then sailed on to Acapulco. Once unloaded, the cargoes were transported overland by mule train to Veracruz and then taken by Spanish galleons to Seville, Spain. Five Manila Galleons are known to have sunk off the west coast of the United States. One, the San Agustin, sank in 1595, victim of a gale in Drakes Bay, northwest of San Francisco.
Manifests show that one third of all the silver and gold mined in the Spanish New World made its way to the Far East aboard the lumbering Manila Galleons. Ingots and heavy chests of coins were stored over the keel in the main hold, often the only ballast used for draft and stability. The ships also carried supplies to colonists in the Marianas and Philippines. The Strait of San Bernardino, on the eastern end of Luzon in the Philippine Archipelago, separates the Pacific from the China Sea and remains one of the most treacherous passages that ships must ply. Even the most seasoned mariners fear entering and exiting the shallow, poorly marked waterway. Of the approximately 130 Manila Galleons lost, close to 100 sank within a 50-mile radius of the entrance to this dangerous strait. Some of the vessels simply ran aground on reefs or shoals, while others were lost in storms or sunk by British and Dutch privateers.
Manila Galleons are out there. Picture them if you will, resting in the Pacific Ocean and China Sea--emblazoned with the regalia of Royal Spain and the Roman Catholic Church--waiting to be discovered by modern-day adventurers.
Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster

  • The San Agustin was a Manila Galleon, considered small (200 tons) in relation to other ships in the flotilla used for transporting merchandise from Acapulco, Mexico to Manila, Philippines. The Galleons were also used for ferrying goods from Manila back to Acapulco.

    The San Agustin met the specifications of Don Sebastian de Cermeño – Spanish name but it is said he was of Portuguese ancestry -- who had previously sailed his own ship (San Pedro) to Manila. During that trip Cermeño had faced enormous difficulties, reaching the conclusion that such a ship (San Pedro) was inadequate for that type of journey.

    Having been chosen by Spain’s King Philip II to head back to Acapulco with a consignment of eastern goods, he was also secretly given an assignment to reconnoiter the California coast in search of a safe harbor for the Manila Galleons to put in for repairs, to replenish supplies of fresh water and food, and also to allow their crews a brief rest before resuming their sailing trip south to Acapulco.

    Cermeño recruited the best personnel, including the noted pilot Francisco Bolaños, and set out from Manila on July 5, 1595 aboard the San Agustin; there were two other galleons making up the flotilla of three ships: the Margarita, and the San Felipe. Out of Manila the ships sailed in a northeasterly direction and did not encounter major challenges until reaching 41-1/2° or 42° of latitude, and coming within a few miles of Cape Mendocino on the California Coast. For unknown reasons the ships had separated after the crossing of the Pacific Ocean; alone, the San Agustin continued sailing south aided by favorable currents and winds.

    The cargo manifestos of the Margarita, and of the San Felipe, are in the Archives of the Indies in the City of Seville, Spain. For this reason it is believed that the San Agustin was transporting cargo of a similar makeup: approximately 130 tons of silk in bales, blue Chinese porcelain of the Wan Li and Chai Ching varieties, silver, gold, and oriental spices. Cermeño navigated the San Agustin from Cape Mendocino to Point Reyes, where he found a “horseshoe shaped bay” and laid down anchor on November 6, 1595. He called it Bahia Grande (Large Bay, in Spanish); experts have determined that this location is today called Drake’s Bay.

    Cermeño decided to send ashore almost his entire crew, apparently intent upon assembling a plank boat which had been brought aboard the San Agustin, but disassembled. Cermeño’s report of what happened, while most of the crew was on land, is incomplete. However, it can be surmised that because the harbor did not offer protection from strong winds blowing from a southerly direction, a fierce gale dislodged the ship from its moorings driving it towards land and causing the hull to become stuck in the sandy bottom.

    Two sailors aboard the ship drowned while the rest of the crew watched in amazement, but helpless, from the relative safety of the sea shore. The strong wind continued to blow causing the whipped up breakers to destroy the ship, most likeky scattering some portions of it still laden with cargo. Those in the know postulate that remnants of the ship and cargo could be resting at a depth estimated to be between 7 and 30 fathoms (between approx 42 feet and 180 feet); today, probably under an additional 30 feet of mud.

    Without additional crew losses (76 men and a dog), Cermeño was able to sail to Acapulco, Mexico on the assembled plank boat, all the while charting and logging the coast. He came within sight of one landmark called the Farallon Islands, off the entrance of what we know today as San Francisco Bay, but he missed this notable natural harbor.

    There have been indications the fortune that went down with the San Agustin is likely to be worth $500 Million in the year 2010.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Thanks for the very interesting details all about the San Agustin. Robert Marx, famous for his treasure salvage and all the books on the subject that he has written, found some of the remains of this vessel. He approached state officials for permission to search further, using proper archaeological techniques and doing it the right way. He was successful in getting permits and other necessary papers. However, when he got ready to further investigate the wreck, federal officials stepped in and squelched it. Marx, obviously, was very upset, and never returned. Very little search and salvage was conducted after that due to all the bureaucratic restrictions. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • I'm fascinated by the Manila Galleons. Can you recommend some good books that might offer even further information about them? Thanks very much for introducing me to a new chapter in Spanish New World colonial history.
    - divepro9, 4 years ago
  • You are quite welcome. It is indeed a fascinating subject. I recommend the following: The Search for Sunken Treasure: Exploring the World's Great Shipwrecks by Robert and Jenifer Marx. This book has 12 pages about the Manila Galleons, accompanied by six illustrations. Another good book is: The Treasure Diver's Guide by John S. Potter, Jr. It has 20 pages all about the Manila Galleons. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • The Spanish were running treasure fleets on both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean:

    http://www.flheritage.com/archaeolog...lateFleets.cfm

    "The vast amounts of natural resources discovered in the New World inspired envy among Spain’s European rivals, especially France and England. Spanish shipments of silver ( plata ), gold, gems, spices, and other exotic goods soon became prey for pirates and corsairs intent on stealing their share. To counter this threat, Spain developed a formal convoy system as early as 1537 to protect its merchant vessels from predators. At least two armed escorts, a capitana or flagship sailing at the front of the fleet and an almiranta or vice-flagship in the rear, accompanied the heavily laden ships across the Atlantic. Additional armed galleons often protected large fleets. To pay for this protection, merchants whose cargos were carried in the fleet paid a tax on their goods to the Spanish Crown. Over the years, the tax increased from 2 percent in the sixteenth century to 12 percent by the seventeenth century, a reflection of the increasing difficulty of protecting the ships.

    Each year, two separate fleets left Spain loaded with European goods that were in great demand in the Spanish-American colonies. Sailing together down the coast of Africa, the fleets stopped at the Canary Islands for provisions before the long voyage across the Atlantic. Once they reached the Caribbean, the fleets separated. The New Spain fleet, or flota, sailed to Veracruz in Mexico to take on silver and other goods, as well as porcelain shipped from China on the Manila galleons and brought overland from Acapulco by mule train. The Tierra Firme fleet, or galeones, made for Cartagena to take on South American products. Some ships were sent to Portobello in Panama to pick up Peruvian silver, while others went to the island of Margarita to collect pearls harvested from offshore oyster beds. Once loading was completed, both fleets sailed for Havana, Cuba to rendezvous for the journey back to Spain.

    The ships leaving Havana were crammed full of New World products. Gold and silver in coins and bars, property of the king, were carried aboard the heavily armed escort galleons. Personal wealth in coins and jewelry accompanied passengers on the merchant ships, together with indigo and cochineal dyes, exotic woods, ceramics, leather goods, chocolate, vanilla, sassafras, tobacco, and products made by the native peoples of the Americas.

    The fleet faced many dangers as it slowly made its way back to Spain. Uncharted reefs and shifting sandbars, treacherous currents, wily pirates, and unexpected storms all took their toll on the fleets. Wooden ships also were victims of tropical shipworms that bored through planks, making the vessels leaky and unseaworthy. In many cases, the ships of the plate fleets were old and nearing the end of their serviceable careers, sent to the New World by owners hoping to complete just one more profitable voyage. One of the greatest fears was hurricanes. With no way to forecast the storms or to predict their tracks, ships were completely at the mercy of wind and waves.

    Over the years of the fleet system, which lasted until nearly 1800, Spain managed to transport enormous amounts of goods and materials between Europe and the New World. Some ships inevitably were wrecked along the way and the Spanish developed effective salvage capabilities to recover the valuable cargos. The remains of these ships now provide us with exceptional opportunities to study our maritime past, and offer divers and snorkelers exciting underwater adventures."
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Thanks! This is interesting info. And, another side note: When the tax was increased from two to twelve per cent, some of the merchants used various means of smuggling things board ship and into port when the ship reached its destination. It was risky, however, since the tax money was meant for the king who had no qualms about declaring the death penalty for smugglers! Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • Dear Mr. Boyd,

    Again, you have come up with a most interesting blog!
    Just let me know where and when....and I would like to go with you to dive for some of this gold!
    Dr. Robert J. Shockley
    - Dr. Robert J. Shockley, 4 years ago
  • Many thanks! I'm pleased you enjoyed the background info all about the Manila Galleons. They are so very interesting. And yes, wouldn't it be fun to dive one one?! I will contact my good friend Carl "Fizz" Fismer (see his website: Spanishmaintreasure.com) and see if he has any future plans to search for one of these fascinating ships. If so, you and I will sign on as crew! I'm sure the Fizz will be glad to have us! Meanwhile, think TREASURE! Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • The following image (click on link below), is an artist's rendition of what a Galleon might have looked like. Another (side view) can be seen by clicking the second link below.

    But, probably the most interesting of all, is this image (artist's rendition) of the innards of a Galleon down to the ship's stone ballast!

    http://www.boundingmain.com/images/ships/galleon_sm1.gif
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Thank you! These are excellent examples of the galleons. Now, people can see how big and bulky they were (they carried lots of cargo and passengers) and why they could become unwieldy in storms and almost impossible to back off once they ran aground or up on to a coral reef. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • I read somewhere that the Manila Galleons sometimes spent a year at sea, getting to their destination. Is this true? Thank you. The history is interesting.
    - Dive Nevis, 4 years ago
  • Manila Galleons were "workhorses" of the sea," and if things went well they could make the voyage from Mexico to Manila in two to three months, but sometimes it took six to seven months. Returning was another story. The winds and currents were much tougher, making the return voyage very difficult. It took one ship a full year to return. Terrible conditions arose aboard ship: disease, hunger, thirst among the crew and passengers, and mental anguish. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • I thought that all the Spanish treasure galleons were wrecked in the Caribbean or off the coast of Florida. I found the story of the Manila Galleons to be quite fascinating.
    - chessiedive, 4 years ago
  • I thought the same thing when I first got interested in Spanish galleons lost in Florida waters. Actually, the Manila galleons are legends in their own right.
    Workhorses of the sea, there are many tales of their voyages and demise. Capt. Carl "Fizz" Fismer gave me a coin salvaged from a Manila Galleon (see his website: Spanishmaintreasure.com which I cherish. It has a good tale to go with it. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • JEAN LAFITTE'S LAKE OF SILVER

    Jean Lafitte strode to the quarterdeck of his pirate ship, The Pride. The legendary pirate chieftain leaned over the deck railing and gazed reflectively across the white-capped waves of he choppy Gulf of Mexico. Lafitte and his lawless horde had been prowling the sea lanes off the Texas coast for a fortnight. They were hopeful of intercepting a prize Spanish galleon. The broad-beamed gold galleons were slow, clumsy vessels, constructed to carry an enormous cargo of gold or silver from the New World to the king's coffers in Spain. A treasure-laden galleon rode low in the water, moved sluggishly, and was an easy target for a fast pirate ship with a gold-hungry crew.
    LaFitte's pulse quickened as he spotted a thick, dark dot riding low on the horizon. An excited cry drifted down from the lookout nest lashed high in the billowing sails. "Ship ahead," cried the sailor. "A galleon ahead. She's riding low with gold!" LaFitte focused his telescope on the approaching vessel. "It is the Santa Rosa," he said, contentedly. "The two million in bullion must be aboard her."
    "Battle stations," shouted the first mate. He blew a signal on his whistle. Instantly the excited pirate crew prepared for battle. Bearded musketeers grabbed their long-barreled guns and crawled to the roundtops of the mast where their deadly bullets could be aimed down on the other ship. Barrels of grenades, stinkpots, and smokebombs were carefully carried aloft. Those bombs could be hurled down on the Spanish crew. Rudge barrels of black powder and cartridges were lugged out of the pirate's powder magazine.
    "Don't forget the blankets," snapped the pirate chief. It was a tradition aboard his ship to cover the powder magazine doors with wet blankets. Fire was a frightening hazard in any sea battle and LaFitte took extra precautions to insure his crew's safety. Vast tubs of brimy sea water were placed at strategic spots on the top deck. They would be useful if an enemy grenade started a fire. Barrels of vinegar water were placed beside the cannons to be used to sponge down an overheated gun barrel.
    "Get the sand!" LaFitte yelled. "Don't forget the sand!" A white-faced sailor grabbed a shovel and threw sand on the deck. The substance prevented slipping or falling during a battle. The pirate chieftain glanced around the deck. "Where is the carpenter?" he yelled. "Here, sir. I'll stay over here until I'm needed," said a tall, hawk-faced man. He carried a hammer, a saw, and an armload of wooden planking. "Just be ready to plug the hole if their cannons get our range," LaFitte said. He turned again, mentally checking the men who would board the Spanish vessel. Each held a large grapnelling hook. Their pistols were primed and loaded and their wicked cutlasses flashed in the sun. LaFitte knew his men were tensed for battle. "Fire a shot across their bow," he ordered.
    The chief of the cannoneers pointed to a nervous gun crew. A flaming linstock touched the fuse and the roaring cannon belched a thick, orange flame. Far ahead, the cannon ball crossed the bow of the Santa Rosa and ploughed into the blue-green sea. The Spanish vessel pulled to and drew closer to the pirate ship. The galleon flew a white flag of truce. "Are you LaFitte?" ased the Spanish captain. "We are pirates," LaFitte yelled, "We want only the silver you carry." "Do you promise safety for myself and the crew?" "Any man aboard your vessel may join us," LaFitte replied. "Those that do not will be given safe conduct. We want your cargo, not yor lives." "Pull to and prepare to take the cursed metal!"
    It required almost nine hours to transfer the silver from Santa Rosa to the pirate ship. The Spanish captain cooperated carefully with Jean LaFitte; he might serve the Spanish king as a ship's captain but there was nothing in his oath that said he had to fight howling hordes of pirates. He knew there was more gold in the mines of Mexico and the Indians could always be whipped into digging out another galleon load. The power of Spain had dwindled in the New World. The pirates and renegades ruled the sea. The lure of easy gold could create a lust in any man and the Spanish captain thought that he might like to be a pirate, except he didn't know how he would command such a blood-thirsty crew of cut-throats.
    When the cargo was transferred to the pirate ship, LaFitte calmly scuttled the Santa Rosa. Laughing at the surprise look on the Spaniard's faces, LaFitte sailed to his heaquarters on Galveston Island, Texas. In those days, Galveston was a rip-roaring, nothing-barred settlement that attracted gunmen, pirates, robbers, drunks, bullies, and frontiersmen. Jean LaFitte was known as the "Lord of Galveston Island." His prince and the court jester was Gasper Trammel, a wagon freighter turned gunman and looter.
    In the late spring of 1816, Gasper Trammel headed north toward St. Louis with $2,000,000 in Spanish silver bars. The mule-drawn wagon train was escorted by a band of hardened Texas gunmen to prevent the treasure from being stolen by marauding Indians or gold-gready Mexican outlaws. The treasure train went along the Trammel Trail north of Galveston and camped at Hendricks Lake, a small body of water fed by the Sabine River. Hendricks Lake is partially in Harrison County, where Panola and Rusk Counties meet in conjunction with one another.
    Trammel posted guards during the night. He was awakened near dawn by a sentry's cry. "The Mexican army is coming," the guard warned. "Someone must have told them we were trying to get the silver to St. Louis," Trammel decided. "Boys, we gotta stand and fight. Them army fellows find us with the silver and we're dead men." The gunmen and teamsters rolled out their bedrolls, primed and loaded their pistols, and planned an ambush for the approaching Mexican cavalrymen. A frightening firefight ensued at dawn. Trammel was shot in the shoulder, bandaged the wound, and returned to his post behind a wagon. "There's at least 200 Mex soldiers out there," a muleskinner blurted. "We ain't gonna get out of here alive. They got us surrounded." Trammel bit his lower lip in pain. The gun wound in his shoulder was bleeding badly. "They may get us, partner, but they ain't gonna get the treasure," he declared. "We got a few more minutes before daylight. Let's roll those six wagon loads of silver into the lake."
    Cursing and stumbling in the darkness, Trammel's teamsters quickly hitched up a team of mules to each of the six wagons containing the silver. The wagons were pulled to an embankment overlooking the lake. The mules were freed and the heavy wagons were pushed out into the lake. LaFitte's pirate treasure of $2,000,000 in silver sank from sight.
    An orange ball of sun was rising in the east whenthe Mexican calvalrymen charged the Texans. Swaords hacked and pistols roared. The mounted horsemen overran Trammel's defenses. Trammel and his companions were killed during the charge. The only survivors were two teamsters, who slipped into the cold waters of the lake and breathed through reeds to elude the Mexican cavalrymen.
    LaFitte was dismayed to hear of his treasure being dumped in the lake. "I know the place," he growled. "The lake is tricky. There is quicksand on the bottom. There is mud on the bottom - ten or twenty feet of mud. We will never find those wagons." It was far easier to cruise the Gulf of Mexico again and plunder another captured Spanish galleon.
    LaFitte did precisely this until 1823, when the U.S. Navy became tired of his arrogant tactics. A U.S. gunboat bottled up his pirate fleet in Galveston Bay; salvo after salvo poured into the battered buccaneer vessels. LaFitte sailed for freedom, but The Pride was blown out of the waters. Some historians claim Jean LaFitte escaped from his sinking ship; others state the pirate chieftain was killed during the sea battle.
    Although the Mexican government made several unsuccessful salvage attempts, there was little interest in the silver bars after that. The sunken silver cache was largely forgotten until 1927, when a fisherman snagged his line in Hendricks Lake and pulled a gleaming silver ingot to the surface. Altogether, four bars of Spanish silver were plucked from the murky waters of the lake by the fisherman. "The treasure hunt was on again," recalled a resident of the area. "A lot of us had heard about the wagons of silver. We didn't believe it. When those bars of silver came up out of there, everyone wanted to get their share of that pirate loot." Their only reward was the iron rim from one of Trammel's wagon wheels.
    In the past 50 years, many treasure hunters have tried various means to recover the silver. None has succeeded and Jean LaFitte's sunken treasure of pure Spanish silver bars has continued to baffle searchers to this day. Resting in the mud beneath some 40 to 50 feet of water is a pirate's treasure worth at least two million dollars.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Jean LaFitte was a paradoxical pirate whose career assumed legendary proportions during the spectacular golden age of piracy. A free-spending rogue with a mercurial temper and a quick wit, LaFitte was a buccaneer, slave trader, robber baron and one of the nation's most patriotic figures. A lean, handsome man with flashing eyes, LaFitte arrived mysteriously in New Orleans on afternoon in the early 1800's and organized a raggle-taggle of Louisiana rogues and pirates into a confederation of crimnals. LaFitte established his headquarters on an island in Barataria Bay and quickly became known as the scourge of the Spanish galleon masters.
    LaFitte roured with amusement when the government of the territory offered $500 for his capture. "Governor Claiborne pays me no tribute with such a small reward," laughed the pirate king. "I value his reputation. I will pay $15,000 in gold to the man who delivers the governor to my headquarters!" It was several weeks before the frustrated governor could appear in public; gangs of thieves worked overtime to plot his kidnapping. When his joke waned, LaFitte withdrew the offer.
    Although there was a price on his head, LaFitte and his pirates were the deciding force in the Battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 might have ended diferently if LaFitte's buccaneers hadnot joined with AndrewJackson's frontiersmen in the defense of the city. After the British soldiers marched into a virtual slaughter, LaFitte was pardoned of his previous crimes. Howevr, the lure of Spanish gold and purloined riches were too strong. LaFitte and his pirates sailed to a new robber's kingdom on Galveston Island in the future state of Texas.
    Treasure hunters believe the adventurous old sea rogue buried chests of his booty on Barataria Island. There are also many legends of LaFitte's buried treasure being salted away in the swamps and marshes around Galveston. Treasure hunters dashed into this region in the late 1920's when a hunter stumbled one foggy morning and pulled several silver bars out of the swampy muck.
    LaFitte made frequent journeys to Fort Morgan, Alabama during his lifetime and many historians claim the six wagon loads of silver in Hendricks Lake was actually being transported to a cache in Alabama. Plundered millions in gold, silver, rare jewel, and rich Aztec artifacts are supposedly buried near Fort Morgan. LaFitte is also believed to be the pirate who buried several chests of Spanish coins near Biloxi, Mississippi.
    With the right combination of courage, skill, and luck, some fortunate finder may yet spend the mysterious pirate's golden horde of Spanish treasure.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Thanks for the valuable info. As you might remember, Carl "Fizz" Fismer and I searched for pirate ships in the National Archives, Washington, D.C., when he was visiting Washington from his home in the Florida Keys. I live in White Hall, Maryland, so it was easy for me to meet him in Washington. He told me that he may be returning, and if so, we might join up again and do more research there. I will let you know if this happens. Check out the "Fizz" at his website: Spanishmaintreasure.com Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • I have enjoyed reading all about the Manila Galleons and was wondering if you ever had an opportunity to dive on one. They are fascinating Spanish ships. Thanks for all the good information.
    - Patrck Whitty, 4 years ago
  • Thank you! My dream is to dive on a Manila galleon. But they are so darn far away. But I did dive with Capt. Carl "Fizz" Fismer last summer on a treasure galleon in the Florida Keys. It was exciting and lots of fun. See "Gin Fizz: Treasure Quest in the Florida Keys" one of my blogs. Also, check out the "Fizz" at his site: Spanishmaintreasure.com Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • I read about the San Agustin, the Manila Galleon that sank in Drake's Bay, California. Did anybody find any treasure on it? Thank you.
    - grandcaymanguy, 4 years ago
  • Renowned salvor, historian and author Robert Marx discovered the galleon in the mid-1980s and brought up a few china shards to show state officials. He got permission from the state in 1987 to locate and salvage the San Agustin, but the National Park Service intervened and threathened to jail him if he attempted any salvage. NOAA and the California State Lands Commission joined the park service against Marx and he gave up his plans to dive the wreck. It is now a protected, submerged cultural resource. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • The Manila Galleons were scheduled for once-per-year trips from Acapulco, Mexico to Manila, Philippines transporting silver and other merchandise to the Far East; the return trip from Manila to Acapulco brought back spices, Ming Porcelain, opals, amethysts, pearls and jade. There were art treasures, ebony furniture, carved ivory and other exquisite rarities found only in China, Japan, India, Burma and Siam, all for the benefit of the kingdom of Spain.

    Each of these journeys lasted anywhere between six months and one-year, and the crews of the galleons had to contend with numerous obstacles some of which were the vagaries of weather (hurricanes and the like), navigational errors leading the ships to run aground, attacks from pirates, and an implacable enemy: scurvy.

    As described by Richard Walter, the chaplain who wrote the official account of the voyage of Britain's Commodore George Anson 1740's attack on Spanish shipping, scurvy's symptoms were: ..."skin as black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, rictus of the limbs, teeth falling out, and perhaps most revolting of all, a strange plethora of gum tissue sprouting out of the mouth, which immediately rotted and lent the victim's breath an abominable odour."

    Although scurvy was known to, and puzzled physicians since ancient Greece, as a baffling medical condition it began emerging as a problem for maritime explorers after mariners sailing out of Portugal reached the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.

    Consider these statistics: approximately two-thirds of the crew of the ships captained by Vasco da Gama in 1498 on his way to India, were lost to scurvy. Magellan, in 1520, lost more than 80 percent of his men while crossing the Pacific; Commodore George Anson left Britain in 1740 with a complement of 2,000 men on six ships, limping back into port in 1744 with only 700 men, aboard the sole remaining ship "Centurion."

    It was not until 1753 that James Lind, a surgeon in the Royal Navy, published a 400-page manual in which he challenged the efficacy of ancient cures, and described his experiments with different treatments, insisting that "oranges and lemons were the most effectual remedies for this distemper at sea."

    However, another 50 years would go by before Dr. Lind's proposals were accepted. Two more milestones, in the history of scurvy, are worthy of mention:

    (1) Capt. Cook, on departing for his first voyage in 1768, insisted that all ships in the fleet be well stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. There were many sailors who died on that first, as well as on the subsequent two expeditions, but none of the men succumbed to scurvy.

    (2) Admiral George Rodney sailed in 1779 for the West Indies; his assignment was to engage the French. Aboard was Mr. Gilbert Blane, a gentleman-physician who insisted that the crews receive a daily dietary supplement of citrus juice. In 1782, the French were defeated in the Battle of the Saints, where Admiral Rodney employed a full complement of healthy crew, and the French Fleet was populated by scurvy-decimated personnel.

    History suggests that, as from 1815, the seas were open to exploration, commerce and travel, free from scurvy.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • This is very interesting and I would like to add a note: The pilgrims aboard the Mayflower were also scurvy victims. Only 52 of the 103 passengers survived after an outbreak of a contagious disease described as "a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis" swept through the ship. In today's world, untreated, scurvy is still usually fatal. However, citrus fruits or anything else with Vitamin C in it prevents the disease that killed thousands of sailors in earlier times. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • As far as I can tell NPS has not done any archaeological work in the area since 1998, and as a local (marin county) resident I find it extremely frustrating that, after litigating to prevent Mr. Marx from doing any work in the area back in late '80s, NPS has done absolutely nothing here since 1998 (when they magnetometered the wreck site). This is the oldest known shipwreck on the US west coast, and NPS knows exactly where it is, but apparently has decided not to pursue excavation efforts. I have been unable to determine if this is due to more recent NPS policy on leaving parkland "as-is", lack of funding, bureaucratic inefficency, or the dangers of diving in this area (which is a very active great white shark breeding ground).

    An interesting aside to this subject is many scholars allege that this same stretch of beach was where Drake made his landing 15 years earlier (1579), but no one has ever found any conclusive, physical evidence to support this thesis (in my view, the fact that Cermeno's crew found no evidence of Drake's fort, or that the indians they encountered had no knowledge of Drake, tends to counter Pt Reyes as Drake's true landing spot). There are pottery shards on display in Pt Reyes that have been dated to the time of these shipwrecks (which were found in local indian middens), and scholars hellbent on establishing Pt Reyes as Drake's landing location have gone so far to suggest that there are 2 distinct sets of pottery shards - one from Drake's visit, and the other from Cermeno/San Agustin) - in my view the greater likelihood is this all came from the San Agustin (or other european visitors), and Drake made his landfall somewhere else.

    The potential benefits of recovering artifacts from the San Agustin, in my opinion, far outweigh any concerns about disturbing the local environment, and with a little effort and creativity, could easily be managed. Nonetheless, overall NPS management and policy in this area over the last dozen years serve only to support their own agenda, without accountability or sensitivity to the needs of local residents (recent attempts to shut down a popular oyster farm in the same park, and twist the facts of related environmental impact assessments to support that position, are a good example of this).

    Strangely, Bay Area residents seem almost completely unaware of this wreck site, its cultural and historical significance, and NPS' apathy in conducting any substantive archaelogical work on the wreck site.
    - Ghengis415, 4 years ago
  • Thanks for your input. You are well versed on this subject. You're right about the NPS--they don't have the personnel or funding necessary to see what's left of the San Agustin, and refuse to allow anybody else on the site. I spoke to Bob Marx some years ago and he was mad and disappointed, very disgusted, that he had put in so much time and effort in locating the wreck and then was threatened with jail time by local authorities who banned him from the site. You may be right about Drake. With no solid evidence of his presence, those shards could very well be from the San Agustin. It's sad that the Bay area residents don't show any interest in a fascinating ship that's sunk right in their backyard. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • From: http://www.thelivingmoon.com/01library/05research/02top/20ship/SpanishGalleons/Galleons01.html

    The Cargo Manifest

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Silver - Mines were worked in Taxco, Zultepec, Pachuca, Zacatecas, Vetagrande, San Luis Potosi, Sombrerete, and Guanajuato by 1558 alone. During the two ensuing centuries mines were worked over much of modern South and Central America, but the richest deposits seem to have been in Peru and Mexico.

    Silver was mined in huge quantities, by some estimates at a ratio of ten to one compared to gold. Aside from being melted down and shipped to Spain, silver was also used by the several mints in the New World. Denominations of eight, four, two, one, and one half reales were all struck. The eight-reale coin, known by much of the world as the “piece-of-eight”, was the common denomination of economic transactions in the New World. The piece-of-eight is about an ounce (approximately 29 grams) of silver.

    Gold - Sizeable deposits were mined in Colombia and Chile, plus smaller quantities throughout South America and Mexico. Gold occurred in lesser quantities than silver in the New World. Foundries would melt the gold into bars or bricks a few pounds in weight and ship them back to Spain aboard the next flotilla. Gold bars were stamped with the King's seal to indicate payment of taxes. They were also stamped to indicate carat purity. Purity was determined by an assayer who took a “bite”, or small notch, from the bar to make the test. The penalty for smuggling untaxed gold back to Spain was 200 lashes and ten years chained to the oar of a galley. Gold coins were not minted in the New World until 1679, when a mint was established in Mexico City. Coins were struck in denominations of eight, four, two, and one escudos. The eight-escudo coin is commonly called the “doubloon”.

    Platinum - This rare resource was mined in Colombia. However its value was less than that of gold or silver during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

    Pearls - An early flood of pearls came from the island of Margarita in the eastern Caribbean, but by the end of the sixteenth century the beds were largely depleted. Smaller fisheries continued to operate around the Caribbean and South America.

    Emeralds - Rich mines were worked in the seventeenth century in modern Colombia.

    Other - Very profitable imports such as hides, dyes, rare woods and agricultural products (e.g. tobacco, vanilla beans, sarsaparilla, cacao) came from throughout the new colonies and complemented the rich haul. Moreover the galleons also carried the invaluable loads of silks, spices, pottery and other valuables brought across the Pacific from China to Panama via Spain's “Manila galleons”.

    Background Sources:

    Treasure of the Atocha, R. Duncan Mathewson III, E.P. Dutton, NY, 1986
    The Search for Sunken Treasure, Robert and Jennifer Marx, Key Porter Books, Toronto, 1993

    The Funnel Of Gold, Mendel Peterson, Little Brown & Co., Boston, 1975
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Many thanks for the interesting info all about the galleons and their cargoes of the early days. The carrack and caravel make for interesting study, as well as the navigational tools used under sail. I'm sure the king kept close watch on the silver and gold listed in the manifests. The penalty for stealing the gold was indeed severe. If you survived the 200 lashes you still had 10 years of slavery to endure. I like your resources. I know Duncan Mathewson and Bob Marx and was priviledged to meet the late Mendel Peterson at a dive symposium years ago. All of them have have provided us with a wealth of in- formation about galleons and their treasures. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • Adobo: A legacy of the galleon trade, this dish was served on long Pacific voyages. There are two types: the North Philippine "wet" Adobo, and the Visayan "dry" Adobo. Essentially pork or chicken marinated in soy sauce, garlic and laurel leaves, the dish is allowed to simmer and is later fried in its own fat. Most Filipinos consider Adobo as their national dish.

    This Easy Chicken Adobo uses a simple blend of garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce to give chicken a zingy boost. Traditional adobo sauces are commonly enriched with coconut milk, and the dish is frequently made with pork. But for everyday cooking consider this lighter, simpler version. Serve with rice. Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes.

    Total: 45 minutes
    Yield: Makes 4 servings

    Ingredients
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    6 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1 bay leaf

    Preparation
    1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, then turn over and cook an additional 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

    2. Pour off all but 1 tbsp. of pan drippings and return pan to low heat. Add garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate. Return chicken to pan and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

    3. Uncover, increase heat to medium-low and cook 15 to 20 minutes more, occasionally spooning sauce over chicken, until sauce thickens a bit and chicken is tender and nicely glazed with sauce. Remove bay leaf before eating.

    Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

    Nutritional Information
    Calories:251 (35% from fat)
    Protein:34g
    Fat:9.9g (sat 2.1)
    Carbohydrate:5.7g
    Fiber:0.2g
    Sodium:1501mg
    Cholesterol:138mg
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Here's some interesting info about biscuit that accompanied the meal (from Six Galleons for the King of Spain by Carla Rahn Phillips): "Ship's biscuit, the key element of the diet on board ship, resisted spoilage better than ordinary bread. Biscuit was packed in sealed boxes or casks to protect it from the dampness. However, biscuit usually softened from the humidity aboard ship and began to ferment and spoil. A variety of vermin infested it. Rats, roaches, mites and weevils all contributed to the damage. Indies fleets often carried enough biscuit for the round trip because it was so scarce and costly in the New World. That meant that toward the end of the voyage the crew might be served some biscuit that was at least 15 months old. If provisions ran low, the broken bits (called mazamorra) left in the storage lockers would be made into a sort of stew along with whatever else was available, usually water, oil and garlic. Galley oarsmen ate mazamorra more than they ate whole biscuit. Others were better supplied, though occasionally everyone who traveled by sea had the opportunity to try it. When rations ran dangerously low on the 1622 return voyage, the passengers were happy to have that." Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • Six Galleons for the King of Spain: Imperial Defense in the Early Seventeenth Century. https://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/87fall/br-galleons.htm

    By Carla Rahn Phillips. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. Maps. Illustrations. Tables. Bibliography. Index. xiv + 318 Pages. $37.50.
    Reviewed by Harry Kelsey, Chief Curator of History, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County, author of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (1986).

    A series of nautical inventories in the manuscript collections of the James Ford Bell Library of the University of Minnesota describe the equipment for six galleons constructed in the late 1620's for the Spanish crown. Intended for use in the squadron guarding the fleets that sailed to and from the Indies, these ships were the product of Spanish labor and business enterprise and were important elements in the machinery that kept the Spanish empire operating during a period of mounting global conflict.

    Using the construction of the ships as a starting point, Carla Phillips has given us glimpses of Spanish social structures, business procedures, and bureaucratic techniques that can only delight her fellow scholars. More than this, Professor Phillips has assembled enough information about mundane matters to enable us to understand the milieu in which most of these events took place.

    For example, Martin de Arana, who contracted to build the ships, did so at considerable personal cost and continued to operate in this way over a period of years. At first inexplicable, his behavior seems completely reasonable, once we learn that Arana expected and received substantial royal favors for his children and other members of his family. Similarly, Roque Centeno reduced himself to absolute penury in equipping the fleet, then was rewarded by the sovereign with a new posting and back pay, plus "pensions, stipends and preferment" for his six children.

    The crown often asked and frequently received more than its subjects could reasonably be expected to deliver, but perhaps there was no other choice. Built during the continuing battles of a Thirty Years War, the galleons have now become vehicles for studying Spanish imperial administration during a time of crisis. One or another of the six galleons served the crown in the Indies and in European waters for a dozen years and more, while Spain successfully fended off European rivals in most of the New World and evaded total disaster in Europe.

    Nonetheless, the value of the book for San Diego historians lies not so much in the description of Spanish efforts to fight a global war as in the thorough and scholarly descriptions of ship design, finance, construction, crews, and shipboard life. The latter includes excellent materials on salaries, discipline, diet, and health. While all of the information may not apply directly to ships built and operated along the west coast of New Spain and in the Pacific, most of it does, including some excellent pages on scurvy and a surprising Spanish resistance to that disease.

    Even more useful is the detailed study of hull design, derived partly from the Instrucción Nautica of Diego Garcia de Palacio, who lived in Guatemala in the later sixteenth century and understood the peculiarities of ship design on the west coast of New Spain. Moreover, the inventories of the six galleons, thoughtfully translated in Appendix A, can serve as a guide and outline for understanding the inventories of the ships built a century earlier by Hernán Cortés for the voyages of discovery to California.

    Based entirely on firsthand accounts, this study by Carla Rahn Phillips is the best and most concise treatment of Spanish ship construction and operation for the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries. No one can expect to understand these ships without first consulting Six Galleons.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Thanks for sharing the excellent write-up from Six Galleons for the King of Spain by Carla Rahn Phillips. It is indeed "one of the most concise treatments of Spanish ship construction and operation for the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries." There is still another book that Spanish ship enthusiasts might like: History Under the Sea by the late Mendel Petersen. This book covers a variety of subjects incuding early ship design, fittings, armaments, coins, bottles, gunfounders' marks, etc. I've used it many times in my research. It was my pleasure to meet the author at a shipwreck symposium in Key West, Florida, in the 1980s. He gave a fascinating slide/talk presentation. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • from: http://www.sailanddivecharters.com/spanishgalleons.html

    Spanish Galleons

    Florida is famous for its fabled Spanish treasure galleons. Florida's coastline is dotted with more colonial Spanish wrecks than any other state in the nation, primarily because of three treasure fleet disasters.

    In 1622, 1715, and again in 1733, Spain suffered horrible economic blows when the treasure fleets or flotas entered Florida waters and were destroyed by hurricanes. The 1622 fleet was scattered across the lower Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas. The 1715fleet wrecked along the Atlantic coast of southern Florida, on what is now known as the Treasure Coast. And finally, the 1733 fleet met its fate along the upper Florida Keys, from modern Grassy Key to upper Key Largo.

    The 1622, 1715, and 1733 flotas were an integral part of an economic system that had developed early in the three centuries of Spanish rule in the New World. A pattern of trade, controlled strictly by the Spanish crown, had evolved based on the policies of the day. Spain's policy was to establish a monopoly, keeping her colonies dependent on her. This monopoly was eventually challenged successfully by English and Dutch traders, but by law Spanish colonials could trade only with the authorized Spanish merchant flotas. As early as the 16th century a law was passed by the Casa de Contratacion, or "House of Trade," which called for the periodic sailing of fleets from Spain to the Caribbean twice a year (though they hardly ever sailed on schedule). The fleets carried manufactured goods for sale to the citizens of the New World, and were then filled with the rich treasures of the Americas for transport back to Spain.

    The typical fleet consisted of several types of ships. Heavily armed galleons served as protection for the bulk of the fleet, merchant naos. The only difference between the nao and galleon was the amount of armament carried. Several pataches, small reconnaissance vessels, also accompanied the fleet, as well as resfuerzos or supply ships.. The fleet was led by the Capitana, or flagship, and the Almiranta, or vice-flagship.

    The fleet would leave Spain (first from Seville and later Cadiz), sail down the coast of Africa until they reached the Cape Verde Islands. Here they sailed west with the prevailing tradewinds until they entered the Caribbean. At that point the ships split into two separate fleets, the Nueva Espana flota and the Tierra Firme flota (after 1648 it was called Los Galeones). The first fleet sailed to Mexico (Nueva Espana)'s port of Vera Cruz, while the second fleet visited the South American mainland ports of Cartagena, Nombe de Dios, and Porto Bello.

    In these ports, the ships traded manufactured goods for the wealth of the Indies, such items as gold, silver, emeralds and other gemstones, hides, exotic woods, copper, tobacco, sugar, cochineal, indigo, and other valuables. In addition to these goods, another Spanish fleet called the Manila Galleons crossed the Pacific and sent treasures from the Orient to Acapulco, and then to the Caribbean flotas. These commodities included such materials as ginger, cowrie shells, porcelains, silks, velvets, damasks, drugs, pearls, and ivory.

    The great flota system reached its height between 1590 and 1600. Then, over the next century the system began to slowly decline. Spain's leadership weakened and her debts increased, colonial mines produced less precious metals, privateer attacks increased, and other European powers began to colonize the Caribbean and break up the Spanish trading monopoly. At the end of the 16th century, the average number of ships in the flota was 100; this was to degrade to 55 by 1610, and to 25 by 1640. At home, Spain suffered general economic and industrial decline and began to lose its shipbuilding industry, as attested to by the fact that by 1650 more than two thirds of the flota ships were of foreign construction. The Spanish navy was so weak by the end of the 17th century that often foreign warships (usually belonging to the nation that Spain owed the most money to) escorted the flota home. The loss of the 1715 and 1733 treasure flotas were a tremendous blow to Spain in the early 18th century. Finally, the last flota to make the transatlantic run sailed in 1778, and Spain officially declared free trade among its colonies.

    Spanish Wrecks in Fkorida:

    El Capitana

    El Infante

    El Almiranta

    San Francisco ("Craig Wreck")

    Chaves

    Herrera

    El Lerri (San Felipe)

    San Pedro

    Sueco de Arizon

    Tres Puentes

    San Jose

    Angustias

    Nuestra Senora del Populo

    Atocha and her sister ship, Santa Margarita.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Readers might enjoy perusing the trade routes map available at:

    http://ns.gov.gu/spain.html.

    Check out the lines delineating the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the "island" of Japan in the top left corner, the "island" of California (today's Baja), the relative location of Acapulco, and the name of Nueva Granada given to North America at that time!

    I find this stuff fascinating.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • The history of Spain and its fleets and settlement in the New World is fascinating and continues to draw scholars and authors throughout the world. Many thanks for the nice list of Spanish wrecks in Florida and the trade route map. It's interesting to note that as Spain's leadership in the world slowly declined, other countries gradually moved to the forefront. Spain's economic and industrial decline, in addition to its shipbuilding slump, were due partly to the need for silver and gold from the New World in order to pay off debts. Large losses at one time, such as the 1715 and 1733 fleets, were a major blow to the king. Spain survived on treasure from the New World and suddenly the supply was rapidly diminishing. Fascinating indeed how history tracks and traces this country's decline. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • Excerpred from http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/129shipwrecks/129facts2.htm

    "The Urca de Lima and the Shipwreck Disaster of 1715

    In 1700, Charles II of Spain died childless and named Philip—the grand nephew of his first wife, Marie Louise of Orleans, and the grandson of Louis XIV of France—as his heir. The Dutch and the English saw this combining of power as threatening and launched the War of the Spanish Succession. The routes between Spain and the Americas were not safe, and the flow of treasure virtually stopped. As the war neared its end in 1713, Spain was on the verge of bankruptcy. King Philip V already had ordered a fleet to sail to the Americas decreeing that as much treasure as possible must be brought back.

    On September 16, 1712 the New Spain fleet sailed from Spain under the command of Captain-General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla. The eight ships reached Veracruz on December 3. The plan was to winter there, conduct the trade fair in the spring, and load up goods for the return trip to Spain via Havana. However, a series of events including damage to ships from storms and problems receiving and loading cargo prevented the fleet from leaving Veracruz for more than two years. On May 4, 1715, the fleet finally sailed for Havana. By this time, however, the fleet consisted of only four ships because the others were destroyed during a storm while at port. The four ships included the Capitana, the Almiranta, the Urca de Lima (a resfuerzo), and the Nuestra Senora de las Nieves (a patache). The total amount of registered treasure aboard the ships was more than six million pesos. General cargo included indigo, vanilla, chocolate, copper, Chinese porcelain, and brazilwood.

    The Tierra Firme fleet, commanded by Captain-General Don Antonio de Echeverz y Zubiza, had left Spain on July 9, 1713, for Cartagena, Colombia. Cargo included hundreds of tons of English manufactured goods. In November, the fleet of six ships headed for Portobelo to pick up more goods before returning to Cartagena for the spring and summer. The fleet sailed for Havana on September 7, 1714 carrying gold, silver, tobacco, brazilwood, hides, and chocolate. After reaching Cuba a few weeks later, the crew spent the winter and spring waiting for the flota to arrive from Veracruz.

    The two fleets finally came together in Havana in the summer of 1715. By this time, the Spanish Crown was in desperate need of money, and merchants were impatient to sell their New World goods on the European market. Despite the fact that hurricane season was underway, the combined convoy left Havana on July 24 carrying 14 million pesos' worth of treasure and cargo. The convoy included five ships of the New Spain flota (Ubilla had added one small ship in Havana), six of the Tierra Firme, and one French merchant ship named Grifon. Spain had detained the Grifon in Havana so it could not reveal the convoy's departure date to privateers.

    After leaving Havana, the convoy enjoyed calm weather as it made its way up the Bahama Channel. On the night of July 30, however, a violent hurricane struck the ships off the east coast of Florida and drove them onto the shallow reefs and hard rock bottom. In a matter of hours, the storm destroyed 11 of the ships. The Grifon was the only ship to escape. Miguel de Lima, owner of the Urca de Lima, described the wreck of his ship:

    The sun disappeared and the wind increased in velocity coming from the east and east northeast. The seas became very giant in size, the wind continued blowing us toward shore, pushing us into shallow water. It soon happened that we were unable to use any sail at all…and we were at the mercy of the wind and water, always driven closer to shore. Having then lost all of our masts, all of the ships were wrecked on the shore, and with the exception of mine, broke to pieces.1
    More than 1,000 people died in the storm, including Ubilla. About 1500 people survived and made it to shore by swimming or floating on pieces of wreckage. Upon reaching land, however, many died from exposure, thirst, and hunger. Further complicating matters, wreckage and people were scattered for almost 30 miles along the uninhabited coast. Fortunately, the Urca de Lima had grounded in shallow water and remained somewhat intact. Supplies and food were recovered from her hold and helped sustain many survivors.

    A few launches (small boats carried onboard the warships) survived the disaster, and survivors managed to send one to Havana for aid. One month later, relief boats from Havana and St. Augustine, Florida, arrived with supplies and salvage equipment to recover sunken chests of coins and goods. The Urca de Lima was the first of the wrecked ships to be salvaged by the Spanish. All the cargo that could be recovered was removed from the hull, and the wreck was burned to the waterline to hide it from English pirates.

    By the end of the year officials claimed to have recovered all of the Crown's treasure and much of the treasure belonging to individuals (totaling 5 million pesos). The Spanish completed salvage efforts by July 1716. It was not until the end of August—four years after the original fleet left Spain—that the recovered treasure finally arrived in Spain. More than half of the total treasure was still missing and would remain so for the next two hundred years."
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Interesting that you mentioned the Urca de Lima. I will be writng about Florida's Archaeological Preserve in a future Wreckchat and the Urca de Lima is the first one listed in a brochure all about the preserve. Victuals from the ship's stores kept survivors alive for 31 days until rescuers came. Burned to the waterline to hide her from English freebooters, she was discovered in 1928by a hard-hat diver who raised 16 cannons and four anchors from the wrecksite. The Urca de Lima became the first of Florida's Underwater Archaeological Preserve in 1987. The remains are in 10-15 feet of water on the first offshore reef 200 yards from the Ft. Pierce beach. Mooring buoys provide access to the site for divers who want to see the remains of a Spanish galleon. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • Hi Mr. Boyd,

    I look forward to reading your blog about the Urca de Lima. Here's another story of a treasure ship from the Spanish Galleons era:

    This wreck was the largest loss ever experienced by the Spanish South Seas (Pacific) Fleet, of which the Jesus María de la Limpia Concepción was the capitana (“captain’s ship,” or lead vessel) in 1654.

    Official records reported the loss of 3 million pesos of silver (2,212 ingots, 216 chests of coins, and 22 boxes of wrought silver), augmented to a total of as much as 10 million pesos when contraband and private consignments were taken into account. By comparison, the entire annual silver production in Peru at that time was only about 6-7 million pesos!

    Obviously overloaded, technically the Capitana sank due to pilot error, which drove the ship onto the reefs south of the peninsula known as Punta Santa Elena, a geographic feature the pilot thought he had cleared. Twenty people died in the disaster.

    For eight years afterward, Spanish salvagers officially recovered over 3 million pesos of coins and bullion (with probably much more recovered off the record), leaving only an unreachable lower section for divers to find.

    Ironically, the main salvager of the Capitana in the 1650s and early 1660s was none other than the ship’s silvermaster, Bernardo de Campos, whose fault it was that the ship was overloaded with contraband in the first place!

    The wreck was rediscovered in the mid-1990s and salvaged (completely, according to some), in 1997. After a 50-50 split with the Ecuadorian government in 1998, investors placed most of their half of the more than 5,000 coins recovered up for sale at auction in 1999.

    Almost exclusively Potosí 8 and 4 reales, the coins were a healthy mix of countermarked issues of 1649-1652, transitional issues of 1652, and post-transitional pillars-and-waves cobs of 1653-1654, many in excellent condition and expertly conserved.

    As an interesting footnote, the very coins salvaged from the Capitana by the Spanish in 1654, were lost again on the Maravillas wreck of 1656, and some of those coins salvaged from the Maravillas were lost again in the wreck of the salvage vessel Madama do Brasil off Gorda Cay (Bahamas) in 1657.

    Furthering Spain’s woes was the destruction of another treasure fleet in 1657 by English marauders (fresh off a victory in the Bay of Cádiz) off Santa Cruz on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

    Edited from: http://www.oceantreasures.org/rubrique,jesus-maria,1070218.html

    "It was revealed recently that a Spanish galleon that sank with treasure of plundered gold 343 years ago, has been found by divers off the coast of Ecuador. The Spanish naval flagship La Capitana Jesus Maria went down in 1645 with a cargo of gold, silver and jewels stolen from Peru’s Indians. According to Norwegoan reports, the treasure is believed to be worth up to £5bn, according to Norwegian reports.

    An international consortium has been searching for the vessel for three years. As the finders they can keep half the treasure, with the rest going to the government of Ecuador.

    'It is like walking right into a fairy tale,' said a spokesman for the Norwegian consortium which has helped fund the treasure hunt, 'People have been searching for this ship for 300 years without success.

    La Capitana Jesus Maria was sailing from Peru to Panama when it sank in shallow waters. Even though the captain survived and was able to note the ship’s approximate position, it remained hidden for centuries.

    'It’s not very deep there, only about 50 feet, but part of the problem is that the waters are very turbulent and the last ten feet are very silty. So it has been very difficult to get orientated.' said Norwegian investor Morten Moe.

    From the registers of the Archivo General de Indias en Sevilla, the passengers on board declared that the contraband was more than 10 million pesos in treasure and that the Plaza de Armas of the city of Los Reyes would be too small for it...!

    The story of this “Unlucky Treasure” begins aboard the ship know as 'La Capitana' which was the largest vessel of her time built in South America. She weighed 1,150 tons with a length of 122 feet and a beam of 40 feet. Carrying 60 guns, 44 of which were bronze, the ship was the flagship of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the South Sea Armada (an area which covered the countries of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador).

    On October 26, 1654, the pilot, Miguel Benitez, was confident that they would clear Punta Santa Elena safely, and make port at Isla de Plata. However, at 11:00 p.m. that night a passenger spotted breakers ahead.

    What follows is a quote from Captain Sosa: 'The danger was very near and dead ahead. In turning, we found ourselves in the midst of reefs. After hitting three times, our rudder fell off. The pumps were started because the shock of each impact was splitting our seams. Water was pouring through the caulking. In addition to the three pumps being manned, everyone on board was bailing with jars, bowls and buckets. We worked all night. At daylight we had about eight feet of water in the hold. Everyone was exhausted.'

    In the testimony of another crew member it was also noted that 'there was difficulty getting the anchors down because there were mountains of unregistered goods stored on the foredeck and on top of the anchor cables.' La Capitana was so overloaded that she drew water up to the second deck. It was stated that if the ship had not been so heavily loaded it would have been able to free itself from the bottom beneath 22 feet of water.

    The morning of October 27th was total havoc; everyone was exhausted and near panic. Some people tried loading their pockets with gold and silver and swimm to shore; at least twenty people drowned in their attempts to reach safety.

    By high tide Captain Sosa managed to move La Capitana closer to shore and permanently grounded her in shallow water. Here, he and his silver master, worked feverishly and salvaged much of the treasure, cargo and 4 of the 44 bronze cannons.

    For greater access to the treasure and other valuables below deck, they burned the ship to the water line. Many of the compartments there were not yet filled with water. At the peak of salvage operations, up to 52 divers worked the wreck with only one fatality; a diver bitten by a sea snake.

    Captain Sosa was able to salvage 1,500,000 pesos from the wreck; salvagers sent later from Spain recovered another 2,000,000 pesos; it was known that more treasure remained.

    This started a major scandal as only 3,000,000 pesos in silver was supposed to be the cargo; later estimates placed the total aboard closer to 10,000,000.

    During the criminal trials that followed, several people were jailed and condemned to death for neglect of duty.

    Fate was not done with the treasure of La Capitana. The salvaged treasure was moved to Cuba where it was loaded onto another galleon, 'Nuestra Senora de la Maravilla', which sank on January 4, 1656, and was subsequently the subject of salvage operations. A salvage vessel sent from Cuba to convey the salvaged treasure from the 'Maravilla' also sank.

    In 1996 this story continued when this shipwreck was discovered by Herman Moro and his crew. After reaching an agreement with the country of Ecuador, he was granted full ownership of half the salvaged treasure.

    This amazing treasure now, remarkably, rests in our own Great Falls."
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • Anyone interested in the story of La Capitana should read Dave Horner's book, Shipwreck, A Saga of Sea Tragedy and Sunken Treasure, published by Sheridan House, 1999. Dave, a prolific author, found the diary of Padre Diego Rivadeneira while reseaching galleons in the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain. The Padre survived the sinking of La Capitana, and then, on his next voyage--trying to reach Spain--he was a survivor of the Maravillas disaster, another Spanish galleon loaded with treasure. He was one of 45 survivors. Six hundred passengers and crew were lost. Dave Horner also was one of the divers and backers in the salvage of coins and artifacts from La Capitana in 1996 and 1997. Dave is a good friend and when I went to hear him talk and promote his book, not long after it came out, he gave me an eight reale (piece of eight) from La Capitana. I proudly display it in my coin collection. Dave is also the author of Shipwrecks, Skin Divers and Sunken Gold, The Blockade Runners, The Treasure Galleons, and other books. His books, all well written and informative, have been good sellers throughout the years. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • From: http://www.1715fleet.com/1715shipsbyweller/carmen1L.htm

    "Rio Mar Wreck-site" Lat. 27° 38.25'N Long. 80° 20.50'W

    Don Antonio de Echeverz y Zubiza selected the largest and best of the Galeone fleet as his Capitana, the "Carmen'.' She was 713 tons in ballast and carried 72 cannon, all iron. It was a formidable size vessel in 1715, and fairly new. Echeverz' fleet were all privately owned vessels, issued contracts by the king to pickup the treasures in South America and return with them to Cádiz.

    The trip was very speculative because of the weather factor, and Spain seemed always at war with someone so the privateers in the Caribbean were on the prowl, but each vessel could make several times its own value on a single trip. The trade for porcelain and spices from the Far East, and for the native cocoa, brazilwood, hides and tobacco were in heavy demand in Europe and commanded a high price.

    The arrival of the fleet in Cartagena was always a great event and began a trade fair that would last several months. While the fair was in progress Echeverz dispatched a boat to Porto Bello to advise that the fleet was in and to start the shipment of Peru gold and silver over the Isthmus. Runners also made the trip to Lima to start the mule packs down the mountains with the gold and silver coins and bullion from the mint there. Also there were pearls to be collected from the divers on the island of Margarita. In total the registered treasure on the manifest listed as follows:

    79,967 pesos in gold bars and doubloons
    309 castellanos of gold dust
    1,175 pesos of plata doble
    3 gold chains
    7,766 pounds of cocoa
    33,600 pounds of brazilwood
    dry goods and hides

    From Cartagena the fleet moved to Porto Bello where they remained through the winter months. Then, laden with treasure and merchandise the ships traveled to Havana to await General Ubilla's Nueva Espania fleet that had treasured up in Vera Cruz. So far the journey had been uneventful for Echeverz, but now the fleet was held up as Ubilla was delayed in Vera Cruz by a severe storm.

    Echeverz waited out the winter months tied to the Havana docks,and trading for tobacco during the parties that seemed to go on without end. Finally, Ubilla arrived in June 1715, and within a month of replenishing and refurbishing the combined fleets were ready to sail back to Spain.

    Two days out of Havana, just as the fleet approached the narrowest northern part of the Bahama Channel, the hurricane struck. Aboard the Capitana the crew took in the reefs of the topgallant, lowered the crew-jack, and battened down the hatches for bad weather they knew must lie ahead. By mid-day the lanterns were lit, and as the storm grew in fury the sails were lowered except the headsail to keep the bow into the thundering waves now rolling across the channel from the east. Before long the Carmen lost the bowsprit from plowing into the white water now washing over her main decks. Then, the topgallant masts and sail fell onto the forecastle, dragging in the water until cut free.

    With the steerage gone the Carmen was at the mercy of the hurricane now shrieking around her. A large wave struck the stern shattering cabin windows in the high poop deck and sending water flooding into her stern. In spite of the damage the ship struggled on, now near the looming coastline of Florida. The sound of breakers ahead caused Echeverz to order his bow anchors dropped, and the ship caught hold and swung once more to face into the wind. The hold had begun filling with water and the pumps failed to hold their own against the rising water and the captain ordered the crew to lighten ship and everything that could be pushed over the side, including many of her cannon, disappeared into the raging seas. Somehow the Carmen missed the outer reef, still holding with her anchor, and then struck hard on a reef only 900' offshore where she rolled on her starboard side and sank in 19' of water. There was little loss of life.

    After the hurricane passed, the Carmen' supper works remained above water, and one of the large ship's launches seemed repairable. The survivors began moving what provisions they could salvage to the beach where they set up a small camp. The 24 foot launch was repaired and sent north to the main salvage camp where Ubilla's Capitana had sunk 2 miles south of today's Sebastian inlet. Sebastian Mendez, pilot of the Carmen, was in charge of the launch that was then dispatched to St. Augustine to advise of the disaster that had befallen the fleet.

    Because much of the topworks of Carmen remained above water, most of her registered treasure was salvaged. As the 1715 fleet began to be salvaged by modern day methods in 1965, the wreck-site of the Carmen was well known because of the pile of cannon lying directly offshore of the northernmost green of the Rio Mar golf course. But it took a back seat to the efforts at Fort Pierce and Sebastian where the gold and silver seemed to cover the bottom of the ocean.

    It wasn't until 1969 that Mel Fisher moved his Treasure Salvors operation to the Carmen wreck-site. Here, opposite a small point of land, he uncovered 19 cannon and 2 large anchors. The blowers also uncovered 149 gold coins, numerous bars of gold, 2 beautiful gold crosses that at one time ornately hung pearls, and over 40 pounds of silver coins. It was their best salvage year in several years, and on a site they felt had little to offer.

    The area just inshore of the cannon and ballast pile is deep sand. Hard bottom reef stretches the last 100 yards to the beach, in some areas exposed at low tide. Under the edge of this reef, in water 4-5 feet deep, a number of artifacts have been recovered in recent years.

    Richard MacAllaster's Peninsular Salvage group worked a riffle box mounted on a small pontoon barge in 1985. They had spotted traces of gold dust everywhere, but trying to pick it out of the reefs was like trying to pull hen's teeth. After 2 weeks, and a lot of fun playing prospector, the group recovered a few ounces of gold dust, and a piece of gold jewelry. The year before, MacAllaster's group recovered several bronze crosses near the cannon pile.

    John Brandon working the Endeavor out of Fort Pierce has always seemed lucky on the site, and in 1986 he recovered 5 gold coins during the few days he worked Rio Mar. There seems to be treasure on the site, and following the scatter pattern of the rest of the 1715 fleet, it would probably be found a few hundred yards north and near the beach. The site remains one of the greatest in terms of photography because of the 19 cannon and 2 large anchors still on the site, grouped in an area 100' x 100' approximately 900' offshore from the extreme northern end of the Rio Mar golf course at the south end of Vero Beach.
    - ZuluDiver, 4 years ago
  • I'm pleased that you mentioned the late Bob Weller, who probably dove on the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet more than anyone else....at least 30 years. His books are still the best ones to get an overview of the vessels that sank during that terrible storm. The Nuestra Senora del Carmen was most fascinating for its size and load of treasure. Mel Fisher, Richard McAllister and John Brandon are all renowned names of salvors who worked the 1715 vessels throughout the years. There was also Mo Molinar who probably found more treasure than the others, but didn't get much publicity, which was okay with him And our very own...my good friend...Capt. Carl "Fizz" Fismer has also worked some of these wrecks. Check out his website at: Spanishmaintreasure.com. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 4 years ago
  • I liked your thread about the Manila galleons. However I would be interested to know where you came across the figure that 100 sank within a 50 mile radius of the San Bernardino Strait. In my research I estimate only 31 of the true Manila Galleons were lost within Philippine waters. Here in the Philippines they call any wooden sailing ship a galleon and sure, there are many that have been lost in the vicinity of that Strait. I have just produced an E-Book covering 1,400 wrecks in the Philippines. see Shipwrecks-Philippines.com.
    - TOM Bennett, 3 years ago
  • The figure came from one of the following books that I have used recently: Treasure Diver's Guide by Potter, Shipwrecks in the Americas by Marx, Sunken Treasure Six Who Found Treasure by Burgess, Tracking Treasure by Trupp, The Search for Sunken Treasure by Marx, The Treasure Galleons by Horner. I haven't had time to go back and find which one it came from but it was one of these. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 3 years ago
  • http://www.1715fleet.com/1715shipsbyweller/carmen1L.htm

    NUESTRA SENORA del CARMEN - "Rio Mar Wreck-site"

    Lat. 27° 38.25'N Long. 80° 20.50'W

    Don Antonio de Echeverz y Zubiza selected the largest and best of the Galeone fleet as his Capitana, the "Carmen." She was 713 tons in ballast and carried 72 cannon, all iron. It was a formidable size vessel in 1715, and fairly new. Echeverz' fleet were all privately owned vessels, issued contracts by the king to pick up the treasures in South America and return with them to Cádiz.

    The trip was very speculative because of the weather factor and Spain seemed always at war with someone so the privateers in the Caribbean were on the prowl, but each vessel could make several times its own value on a single trip. The trade for porcelain and spices from the Far East, and for the native cocoa, brazilwood, hides and tobacco were in heavy demand in Europe and commanded a high price.

    The arrival of the fleet in Cartagena was always a great event and began a trade fair that would last several months. While the fair was in progress Echeverz dispatched a boat to Porto Bello to advise that the fleet was in and to start the shipment of Peru gold and silver over the Isthmus. Runners also made the trip to Lima to start the mule packs down the mountains with the gold and silver coins and bullion from the mint there. Also there were pearls to be collected from the divers on the island of Margarita. In total the registered treasure on the manifest listed as follows:

    79,967 pesos in gold bars and doubloons
    309 castellanos of gold dust
    1,175 pesos of plata doble
    3 gold chains
    7,766 pounds of cocoa
    33,600 pounds of brazilwood
    dry goods and hides

    From Cartagena the fleet moved to Porto Bello where they remained through the winter months. Then, laden with treasure and merchandise, the ships traveled to Havana to await General Ubilla's Nueva Espańa fleet that had treasured up in Vera Cruz. So far the journey had been uneventful for Echeverz, but now the fleet was held up as Ubilla was delayed in Vera Cruz by a severe storm. Echeverz waited out the winter months tied to the Havana docks, and trading for tobacco during the parties that seemed to go on without end. Finally Ubilla arrived in June 1715, and within a month of replenishing and refurbishing the combined fleets were ready to sail back to Spain.

    Two days out of Havana, just as the fleet approached the narrowest northern part of the Bahama Channel, the hurricane struck. Aboard the Capitana the crew took in the reefs of the topgallant, lowered the crew-jack, and battened down the hatches for bad weather they knew must lie ahead. By mid-day the lanterns were lit, and as the storm grew in fury the sails were lowered except the headsail to keep the bow into the thundering waves now rolling across the channel from the east. Before long the Carmen lost the bowsprit from plowing into the white water now washing over her main decks. Then, the topgallant masts and sail fell onto the forecastle, dragging in the water until cut free. With the steerage gone the Carmen was at the mercy of the hurricane now shrieking around her. A large wave struck the stern shattering cabin windows in the high poop deck and sending water flooding into her stern. In spite of the damage the ship struggled on, now near the looming coastline of Florida. The sound of breakers ahead caused Echeverz to order his bow anchors dropped, and the ship caught hold and swung once more to face into the wind. The hold had begun filling with water and the pumps failed to hold their own against the rising water, The captain ordered the crew to lighten ship and everything that could be pushed over the side, including many of her cannon, disappeared into the raging seas. Somehow the Carmen missed the outer reef, still holding with her anchor, and then struck hard on a reef only 900' offshore where she rolled on her starboard side and sank in 19' of water. There was little loss of life.

    After the hurricane passed, the Carmen' supper works remained above water and one of the large ship's launches seemed repairable. The survivors began moving to the beach what provisions they could salvage, where they set up a small camp. The 24 foot launch was repaired and sent north to the main salvage camp where Ubilla's Capitana had sunk 2 miles south of today's Sebastian inlet. Sebastian Mendez, pilot of the Carmen, was in charge of the launch that was then dispatched to St. Augustine to advise of the disaster that
    had befallen the fleet.

    Because much of the topworks of Carmen remained above water most of her registered treasure was salvaged. As the 1715 fleet began to be salvaged by modern day methods in 1965, the wreck-site of the Carmen was well known because of the pile of cannon lying -directly offshore of the northernmost green of the Rio Mar golf course. But it took a back seat to the efforts at Fort Pierce and Sebastian where the gold and silver seemed to cover the bottom of the ocean. It wasn't until 1969 that Mel Fisher moved his Treasure Salvors operation to the Carmen wreck-site. Here, opposite a small point of land, he uncovered 19 cannon and 2 large anchors. The blowers also uncovered 149 gold coins, numerous bars of gold, 2 beautiful gold crosses that at one time ornately hung pearls, and over 40 pounds of silver coins. It was their best salvage year in several years, and on a site they felt had little to offer. The area just inshore of the cannon and ballast pile is deep sand. Hard bottom reef stretches the last 100 yards to the beach, in some areas exposed at low tide. Under the edge of this reef, in water 4-5 feet deep a number of artifacts have been recovered in recent years.

    Richard MacAllaster's Peninsular Salvage group worked a riffle box mounted on a small pontoon barge in 1985. They had spotted traces of gold dust everywhere, but trying to pick it out of the reefs was like trying to pull hen's teeth. After 2 weeks, and a lot of fun playing prospector, the group recovered a few ounces of gold dust, and a piece of gold jewelry. The year before MacAllaster's group recovered several bronze crosses near the cannon pile.

    John Brandon working the Endeavor out of Fort Pierce has always seemed lucky on the site and in 1986 he recovered 5 gold coins during the few days he worked Rio Mar. There seems to be treasure on the site, and following the scatter pattern of the rest of the 1715 fleet, it would probably be found a few hundred yards north and near the beach. The site remains one of the greatest in terms of photography because of the 19 cannon and 2 large anchors still on the site, grouped in an area 100' x 100' approximately 900' offshore from the extreme northern end of the Rio Mar golf course at the south end of Vero Beach.
    - ZuluDiver, 3 years ago
  • Mel Fisher, Richard MacAllaster and John Brandon are familiar names, all salvors of ships in the 1733 Spanish treasure fleet. One of the most notable salvors is the late Bob "Frogfoot" Weller who spent over 40 years diving these wrecks. For more info on treasure salvors and this fleet, go to Bob's book: Galleon Alley: The 1733 Spanish Treasure Fleet. There are many books written about these ships and their treasures, but this is one of the best. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 3 years ago
  • Gulf Atlantic Salvage Company LLC

    “Our goal is to become the largest treasure salvage company in the world.”

    Gulf Atlantic Salvage Company LLC was established in June 2004. Based in the Florida Keys, GASC was created to locate and salvage the shipwrecks of Spanish Galleons that sank in the Florida Keys while carrying gold, silver, emeralds and other valuable items back to Spain.
    The first treasure laden galleon left the new world and headed back to Spain, passing through the Florida Keys, in 1502. It is estimated that an average of 100 ships per year made the voyage from the new world to Spain between 1502 to 1783. An estimated 65,000 tons of silver, along with gold and emeralds were carried aboard many thousands of Spanish Galleons over a 300 year period. The annual armada to Spain left from Havana, Cuba in late summer, right in the middle of hurricane season, and passed through the Florida Keys.
    It is estimated that somewhere around 2,000 of these treasure carrying galleons sank in the Florida Keys. Only a small handful of the wreck sites have ever been discovered. The few shipwrecks that have been found are worth, in today’s dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars each.

    GASC was founded by Capt. Glenn Jackson in 2004 to locate and salvage these lost Spanish Galleons. Glenn is a licensed boat captain with over 30 years experience. He has over 15 years experience in treasure salvaging, as a contract salvager on well known treasure ships that have been found in the Florida Keys.

    It is the goal of GASC to become the largest treasure salvaging company in the world. To accomplish that goal means finding and salvaging treasure from many sunken spanish galleons. Here is how we plan to accomplish our goal.

    Phase 1 – Find shipwreck location(s) of spanish galleons. Since 2004 GASC has been searching for shipwreck sites of spanish galleons that have sunk in the Florida Keys. Our survey boat has logged over 42,500 miles and we have found multiple wreck sites. Capt. Glenn Jackson has personally funded the expenses for all search operations up to this point. Phase 1 is now complete.

    Phase 2 – Acquire salvage vessel(s). Before salvage operations can begin it is necessary to file a salvage claim in federal court. Once a claim is filed, the location of the wreck site, potentially worth hundreds of millions and maybe even a billion dollars, is public knowledge. To provide security for the site and it’s valuable treasure, a boat must be stationed on site and manned 24/7 as soon as the salvage claim is filed. So prior to filing claim, salvage vessels must be acquired, modified and crewed. Here are the vessels and equipment that are needed to begin salvage.
    Barge – 40’x100’
    The barge will be anchored near the wreck site as a base of operations for salvage & GASC business operations. We will acquire a surplus ocean going barge and convert it to include the following:
    Air station to fill scuba tanks
    Delsalination plant to provide freshwater and freshwater storage tanks
    Full machine shop and welding facilities
    Spare parts for boats and all salvage equipment
    Sleeping quarters

    Crew

    Visiting camera crews for Discovery Channel, National Geographic etc
    Investors when they wish to visit wrecksite and annual investor meeting
    State of the art communications, internet, video editing and website management
    Helipad
    Generator for electrical power
    One chicken
    Galley and freezers
    Fuel storage for boats, generators and helicopter
    Offices
    Ice maker
    Ice-cream maker, bbq, hot tub, hammocks for crew relaxation
    Showers
    Restrooms
    Laundry room
    Meeting room/dining room

    The cost to acquire and convert the barge will depend on availability and market prices of barge and equipment, and also whether good equipment can be acquired on the surplus market or must be purchased new. We estimate a cost of $400,000 – $500,000 to acquire the barge & get it fully operational.
    Salvage boat 80-100’ long
    Blower (deflects prop blast downward to clear sand that is covering wreck site)
    Spare engine(s) that will be kept in storage ashore
    State of the art electronics and communications
    Magnetometers and metal detectors
    Pumps, compressors & hydraulics systems for salvage operations
    Camera gear to document everything, both photography and hi-def video
    Scuba gear

    The cost to acquire and convert the salvage boat will depend on availability and market prices of boat and equipment, and also whether good equipment can be acquired on the surplus market or must be bought new. We estimate a cost of $500,000 – $800,000 to acquire and convert the salvage boat and equipment.

    Two support vessels – to tow barge, pull magnetometer(s), shuttle crew and supplies back to shore, etc Actual costs of vessels will depend on availability of surplus vessels and market prices. We estimate the two support vessels will cost approximately $200,000.
    We estimate the total cost to complete Phase 2 to be between $1.1 and $1.5 million. We estimate the time required to acquire and convert the barge, salvage boat and support vessels to be 3-4 months once funding is obtained.

    Phase 3 – Register salvage claim(s), and begin salvage operations. We need to hire an attorney with a lot of experience in salvage, maritime and admirality law to file our salvage claim(s).

    Our crew will consist of boat captain, divers, camera crews to document everything with both photographs and high-definition video.

    Will have the following expenses: Crew salaries, insurance, fuel, equipment repairs, legal fees, food, etc. We estimate our weekly operating expenses to be $20,000 per-week.
    Phase 4 – Find additional shipwrecks. Once salvage operations are fully underway on the first galleon wreck site, we will begin to search for additional wrecks to salvage. Capt. Glenn will oversee the salvage operations of the initial wreck site, with the day to day salvage operations under the supervision of the salvage boat captain.

    We will have a business manager to oversee all non-salvage operations, such as taking care of payroll, supplies, dealing with the media, overseeing the documentation of all aspects of the salvage operation and production of videos, dvds as well as website creation and maintenance. This will leave Capt. Glenn free to search for more wreck sites.

    At this stage we will need some additional equipment to help with the searching for new wrecksites: magnetometer (cost approximately $100,000 each), and also a small helicopter (cost approximately $200,000) on floats for doing aerial searches in the shallow waters of the Florida Keys

    Phase 5 – Distribution of treasure for investors. Once every year there will be a meeting of investors to divide up the treasure found that year. Weather permitting the annual distribution meeting will be held on the barge.

    Copyright 2011 Gulf Atlantic Salvage Company LLC. All Rights Reserved.
    - ZuluDiver, 3 years ago
  • Thanks for sharing. I too wonder about the chicken! I don't know this captain or anything about Gulf Atlantic Salvage. It would be good to check everything out carefully before investing. Best regards, Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 3 years ago
  • http://de-luna.com/locating-ochuse.html

    The difficulties of maritime navigation in the 1500's are illustrated by the narrative of Tristan de Luna's "sailing instructions" for locating the Port of Ochuse (modern day Mobile, AL), in his letter to the King of Spain.
    - ZuluDiver, 3 years ago
  • Spanish conquistador Tristan de Luna recorded much about the difficulties of navigation in the 1500s. Most of it came from his own experiences and he surely had some excitng ones! I believe he also was credited with leading his party to an anchorage in Pensacola Bay and set up the Puerto de Santa Maria encampment which is now the site of the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 3 years ago
  • There are people interested in the San Augustin all the time. There are programs at the park to understand the wreck and its significance all the time.

    The San Pedro was a galleon on the short lived Acapulco to Cebu, Cebu to Acapulco line. It sunk on the return trip back to Acapulco in 1597, and I think it has not been yet found. Cermeno returned on the San Augustin becuase it was a Manila-Acapulco galleon and he had been geven permission to carry a certain tonnage of personal freight on it back to Acapulco in exchange for exploring the coast of California and finding a suitable harbor.

    The ships going from Acapulco to Manila carried mainly silver bullion and some gold that was traded for silks, cotton products, wax, porcelin, furniture, metal worked goods like statues, cook pots, Japanese matchlocks and swords, and gems and some worked silver and gold.

    As the years went by, the ships evolved from lightly defended small round galleons to giant ships with long gun decks. The San Augustin looked very little like the picture provided in this thread. Later galleons did resemble that plan it though, see for refference the Concepcion at SaiPan or the San Francisco Xavier.

    The ships going to Acapulco from Manila made their fortune transporting silk and porcelin. After the wreck, many bales of silk and pieces of bees wax were retrieved from the beach and stacked on the dunes above the beach in order for it to be picked up at a later date.

    Cermeno remained there for about 7 more days, then left on a launch boat he had brought from Manila. Part of his crew mutinied and chose to walk back to Mexico, which they accomplished after several months. Cermeno may have brought a few silks and objects from the wreck back to Mexico on the improved raft they assembled.

    They squabbled over wreckage from the galleon with the local Miwok indians, and a short battle ensued for posession of boards from the wreck. Portions of the wreck that washed up may have been burned.
    - Cuzcosquirrel, 3 years ago
  • This is a great story! Cermeno had quite an adventure! And can you imagine that some of his crew chose to walk back to Mexico?! Thanks for sharing, Ellsworth Boyd Wreckmaster
    - Ellsworth Boyd, 3 years ago

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