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