by Frank Feliciano
On July 14 and 15, 1733 , a treasure laden Spanish fleet met disaster in the Florida Keys. Four galleons and 18 naos were carrying approximately 20,000,000 pesos in Mexican silver heading from Veracruz to Spain. The storm hit them on the 14th of July off of the Florida Keys and by the 15th of July the fleet was resting on the bottom of the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys. Some of the ships ended up on the barrier reef, some made it across Hawk Channel, a 40' deep channel between the reef and the islands, and some ran aground along the shore in water as shallow as 8 ft. The Spanish using local divers were able to recover a large portion of the treasure from the sunken fleet and several of the vessels were re-floated and continued their voyage to Spain. Over the next year and a half 12,000,000 in silver coins and ingots were recovered by the Spanish. The remaining treasure was scattered by subsequent storms which battered and destroyed the rest of the sunken fleet. [ Potter, John, S Jr. The Treasure Diver's Guide. 1960. Port Salerno, FL: Florida Classics Library. Doubleday, Bantam, Dell Publishing Group, Inc. 1988. pp 220-221]
The rest of the information provided comes from various individuals who gave me some insight into the wrecks and research conducted in the early 1980 by friends and I. I make no claim to the accuracy of the locations listed, these ships have been identified by local divers by various names and there are contradictions based on who did the original research regarding which ship lies where, therefore I make no guarantees whatsoever and stake no claim to any of the locations listed below. I further recommend anyone who plans to visit these sites to check into the Florida Statutes which protect these wrecks. Some of the sites have been staked by modern treasure divers others are the property of the State of Florida.
I have dived on most of the LORAN numbers listed below and can tell you there are ballast piles at the locations and in some cases there are still huge beams among the ballast rocks. The sites are awesome to look at, photograph well and there are still coins washing up on the shore in the area of some of these wrecks. Good Luck and happy hunting. Don't forget your Dive Flag and a crawfish gauge. If nothing else you might get a good meal out of your dive if your smart and quick enough.
There are other wrecks which I have not provided locations for, simply because I did not have the LORAN or Latitude and Longitude for them. They are associated with the 1733 fleet and information can be found for them in Potter's book from page 220-232 they include: "La Floridana", "San Felipe", "El Poder de Dios", "El Lingue Populo", and "El Aviso".
* "El Infante"; "Nuestra Senora de Balvaneda" a galleon owned by the King alleged to have carried 562,509 pesos in silver specie and bullion, 643 marcos in worked silver. The wreck lies on Little Conch Reef. LORAN: 14109.1 // 43266.0 Lat-Long: 24 55.59N // 80 28.23W
* "San Jose y Las Animas" an English built 326.5 ton vessel alleged to have carried 30,435 pesos in silver specie and bullion. Lies inshore of Little Conch Reef LORAN: 14108.5 // 43268.8 Lat-Long: 24 56.03N // 80 29.04W
* "La Capitana; "El Rubi" 60 cannon vessel owned by the King alleged to have been carrying 104 castellanos in worked gold, 3,200 pesos in gold specie, 5,090,285 pesos in silver specie and bullion, 6,099 marcos in worked silver. Lies between Davis and Crocker Reef. LORAN: 14103.8 // 43276.5 Lat-Long: 24 54.62N // 80 30.65W
* "Chaves"; "Angustias"; "Nuestra Senora del Carmen" a 220.9 ton merchant ship, treasure lies in very shallow water just off of Snake Creek ballast pile. Loran: 14098.5 // 43292.7 Lat-Long: 24 55.34N // 80 34.78W
* "Herrera"; "Nuestra Senora de Belemy San Antonio de Padua" English built 242.5 ton vessel alleged to be carrying 1200 pesos in silver specie and bullion, 359 marcos in worked silver. Lies near the Chaves in Hawk Channel. LORAN: 14094.7 // 43296.6 Lat-Long: 24 56.61N // 80 35.37W
* "Tres Puentes"; "Nuestra Senora de Belemey San Juan Bautista" a 212 ton vessel carrying no known treasure lies just seaward of the Herrera. LORAN: 14093.5 // 43296.5 Lat-Long: 24 52.67N // 80 35.15W
* "San Pedro" a merchant nao Dutch built 287+ tons alleged to be carrying 16,000 pesos in silver specie and bullion and Chinese porcelain. Lies off of Indian Key. LORAN: 14082.2 // 43320.8 Lat-Long: 24 51.13N // 80 40.68W
* "Herri-Lerri" Others have identified this wreck as the Arizon. Silver coins continue to wash up near the beach just oceanside of mile marker 75 face the ocean and search the shallow waters just to the left of the billboard. LORAN: 14077.1 // 43330.6 Lat-Long: 24 50.07N // 80 42.75W
* "San Francisco de Asis" an English 264+ ton vessel also referred to as "Cayo Vivoras". Lies just off Craig Key, still has huge beams in amongst the ballast pile. LORAN: 14070.4 // 43342.8 Lat-Long: 24 48.59N // 80 45.35W
* "La Almiranta"; "El Gallo" owned by the King a 60 cannon vessel alleged to be carrying 196 castellanos in worked gold, 3.200 pesos in gold specie, 4,895,216 pesos in silver specie and bullion, 2,579 marcos of "plata pasta" lies in shallow water between Lower matecumbe and Long Key. LORAN: 14068.5 // 43345.4 Lat-Long: 24 48.10N // 80 45.87W
* "El Sueco de Arizon"; "Nuestra Senora del Rosario"; "San Antonio y San Vicente Ferrer" The owner and captain was alleged to have carried 24,000 pesos in silver specie and bullion. LORAN: 14053.2 // 43379.1 Lat-Long: 24 46.38N // 80 53.52W
* "San Fernando"; "Nuestra Senora de los Reyes"; "San Francisco de Panla"a 328 ton vessel alleged to be carrying 16,000 pesos in silver specie and bullion, 226 marcos worked silver has not been located but is believed to be near Duck Key or Grassy Key at Cayo de Viboras out near Coffins Patch.
* "Sumey de San Ignacio"; "San Ignacio" English built 292+ ton vessel alleged to be carrying 12,000 pesos in silver specie and bullion, 696 marcos of worked silver in six boxes located near Cayo de Vacas near Coffins Patch. LORAN: 14038.5 // 43399.2
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