Metal Detecting the 1715 Treasure Fleet & Maps to locate
Disclaimer: The sources for this 1715 Fleet information package is derived from personal knowledge, websites and various books. In some cases the information found has required me to make a judgment or interpret of the validity of the material so you may find mistakes, or errors in this article's material. It is suggested that this article should be considered as a reference guide only and not the holy grail of information. So take the time and do your own independent research on the 1715 Fleet.
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 the galleons into shallow water. It soon happened they were unable to use any sail at all…and were at the mercy of the wind and water, always driven closer to shore. Having then lost all of their masts, all of the ships were wrecked on the shallow reefs, and with the exception of two broke that survived the storm.
This violent storm off the coast of Florida in July 1715 ravaged 11 Spanish ships as they attempted to return to Spain. From the mid-16th to the mid-18th century, heavily-armed fleets such as this plied the waters between Spain and the Americas transporting massive amounts of New World treasure. Through this treasure fleet system, Spain created a mighty New World empire and became the most powerful nation in Europe. The fleets' return voyage—when the ships were laden with silver, gold, gemstones, tobacco, exotic spices, and indigo—was the most dangerous. Pirates and privateers from rival European countries threatened to seize the precious cargoes and jeopardize Spain's dominance of the Americas. The greatest danger, however, came not from enemy countries, but from unexpected and deadly hurricanes.
In 1715 and again in 1733, Spain's treasure fleets were devastated by hurricanes off the coast of Florida. Although the Spanish managed to recover some treasure, much more remained on the ocean floor. The sunken ships lay forgotten for more than 200 years until modern treasure hunters discovered several of them. Today, the remains of two of the ships—the Urca de Lima from the 1715 fleet and the San Pedro from the 1733 fleet—are protected as Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserves. These ships are time capsules from a bygone era and can reveal much about the history of the mighty maritime system that helped shape the Americas.
1715 Fleet Ships Believed to have been Found are:
1 - Nuestra Senora de la Regla - Cabin Wreck Site
2 - Santo Cristo de San Roman - Corrigan's Wreck Site
3 - Nuestra Senora del Carmen - Rio Mar Wreck Site
4 - Nuestra Señora de La Popa - La Holandesa Wreck Site
5 - Nuestra Senora del Rosario - Sandy Point Wreck Site
6 - Urca de Lima - Wedge Wreck Site - Note: This is a State Archaeology Site
7 - Nuestra Senora de las Nieves - Douglas Beach Wreck or Gold Wreck or Colored Beach Site
Ships of the 1715 Fleet Never Located are the:
8 - Maria Galante
9 - El Senor San Miguel a 22 cannon frigate (Possibly wrecked off Amelia Island, Florida)
10 - El Cievro also known as La Galleria (Possibly wrecked off Amelia Island, Florida)
11 - Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion
12 - Griffon made it safely and went on to France.
Spanish coins of all types (Gold and Silver) started to be found on the beaches in the 1950s after strong Nor'easters or a violent hurricane. This lead to key individuals to research as to how and where these coins came about being on the East coast Florida beaches. The research resulted in early development (1960) of salvage teams and the search for Spanish Treasure begins by the pioneers of Treasure Hunters like Kip Wagner, Commander Weller, Jack Haskins, Mel Fisher and many more. It has been over 65 years and the search continues and we find more treasure each season.
Metal Detecting the Wreck Sites:
A Very Brief Florida State Law Overview:
You are allowed to hunt the beaches from the foot of the Dune to the low tide line and that includes the beaches adjacent to the 1715 Fleet of Spanish shipwrecks.
Inside State parks you are required to get written permission from the Park Ranger before you detect in the park. Some State Parks will allow metal detectors in the park.
Do not bring your metal detector into a National Park in Florida, this includes all beaches and waters adjacent to the National Park.
Florida did away with the Isolated Finds Program. The Isolated Finds Program provided the treasure hunter with the ability to keep a find as long as the state was provided with the location of the find. You can dive on Treasure Coast wrecks, however, you must NOT have a metal detector in the ocean lease site, and you must stay 300 feet away from dive boats that are working the lease area. Do NOT bring a metal detector within the 3,000 yard radius lease area while in the water. Check the GPS coordinates for the various site leases. It is very wise to do your own research from before visiting a wreck site to locate the GPS coordinates and restrictions for the site. I will not list any lease GPS coordinates for legal reasons, but this are easily found on the internet.
How and Where to Metal Detect a Wreck Site Beach area.
There have been many time someone just walking out onto one of the Treasure Coast Beaches and finding treasure on top of the sand. However, having said you can increase your odds 100 times with the use of a good metal detector. The best time to be at these beaches is directly after a strong Nor'easter or hurricane at high tide.
The best surf situation is to have a strong Nor'easter (swell) that hits the beach at high tide (four plus feet). These swells with a high tide can cause large and deep cuts to take place and expose the old dune sand and old beach area. It is wise to metal detect the high tide line area of the beach near the dunes right after a high surf and tide situation.
Caution never Metal Detect any Beach during a Hurricane or During Extreme Surf with High Tides Situations
Always dig all targets identified by the metal detector on a Treasure Coast, even iron. Many interesting and potentially valuable targets may not be Silver, Gold or jewelry but iron, copper, bronze, etc. Don't throw anything away until you are very sure its trash and not a treasure of some kind.
1 - Always Fill all holes dug since many people use the beach for other recreational purposes.
2 - Always remove and carry out all trash dug.
3 - Never metal detect the dunes themselves its illegal.
4 - Never metal detect in the leased waters its illegal.
5 - Never Trespass on Property.
6 - Never dig or disturb the Turtle nesting areas that are usually taped off with orange tape.
Remember most of the Treasure Coast today is behind private residences and Metal detectorist
need to respect the beach as it may be used by those living there and other visitors. If too many
complaints are received by local authorities about unfilled holes, trash, improper parking and
bad behavior the treasure coast beaches may become off limits to recreational detectorist.
Last, but certainly not least always pickup all green stones because you may
end up holding an Emerald in your hand from the 1715 Fleet.
North Sebastian Inlet -- Bonsteel Park
Bent Anchor Site - 1715 Coins
GPS Coordinates: 27 54.200N 80 28.150W
Directions: From Sebastian Inlet Bridge travel North 3.2 miles on SR A1A.
Access: Bonsteel Park: 27 54.091N 80 28.275W
The first treasure beach to the North is near the Old Chuck's Steak House site (~ 27 54.168N 80 28.312W). The site was located on the east side of A1A but is no longer there. Immediately after you pass the site's location coming from the North, prepare to make a left turn into 'Bonsteel Park'. Leave your vehicle here and metal detect North of the park. This beach is also known as Half-Reale Beach after the large numbers of Spanish 1715 cob coins found here and is located behind the Old Chuck's Steak House Site.
1715 -- Wreck Coin Site
Bent Anchor Site
GPS Coordination: 27 54.200N 80 28.150W
Note: No Wreck Ballast Pile at this Beach.
Finds: No Gold, Smallest Reales only.
1715?? -- Pines Wreck
GPS Coordination: 27 50.978N 80 26.577W to 27 50.461N 80 26.307W
Directions: There is a small gravel parking area on the east side of A1A just .79 miles South of the Sebastian Inlet Bridge. There should be a pathway leading to the beach.
Finds: Coins and artifacts have been recovered here in past years
Mclarty's State Museum
GPS Coordination: 27 50.034N 80 26.031W
Direction: Travel Two Miles South from the Sebastian Inlet Bridge.
Note: The location is the original site of the 1715 four year Salvage Operations. If you are from out of state this museum is well worth your time to visit and learn about1715 Fleet. There also may be some of the finds that have been reported / found on the beaches near the Mclarty's Museum on display. No metal detecting here, but you will find treasure!
1715 -- Cabin Wreck
Nuestra Senora de la Regla 471 tons, 50-3,000lb Iron Cannons
GPS Coordination: 27 49.800N 80 25.500W to
27 49.575N 80 25.781W
Direction: Just South of Mclarty Museum .9 miles on A1A is the Ambersands Beach Access parking lot. Walk North 1,200 yards. This is the center point of the wreck site. The Mclarty Museum sea wall will be 400 ft further North.
Five cannons in five to seven feet of water are off the north end of McLarty Museum’s wall of rocks. Two anchors in eight feet of water, 200 feet off the beach from the south end of the wall of rocks. One cannon on first reef, 150 feet off the beach, from just north of Kips cabin. Eleven cannons on the 2nd reef, west side of reef, 300 feet from the beach, seaward of the Kips cabin. Ballast pile and cannon on the 3rd reef off Kips cabin. Main pile covers over an acre, 900 feet off the beach in 21 feet of water about 1200 feet south of the museum.
Access: Ambersands Beach Access 27 49.341N 80°25.705W
Finds: Gold Reales, in 1960s 11-Gold Chains were found, Dragon pottery, and all denominations of Reales
May be another 1715 Wreck
GPS Coordinates: 27 48.200N 80 24.700W
Directions: Just South of McCarty Museum .9 miles on A1A the Ampersands Beach Access parking lot. Walk South 1,500 yards to the Anchor wreck site.
Two Access Points for the Anchor Wreck Site:
1st Access: Ambersands Beach Access 27 49.341N 80 25.705W
2nd Access: Treasure Shore Beach Access 4.6 miles South of Sebastian Inlet Bridge 27 47.869N 80 24.993W
Notes: The Cannon and Robert wrecks are located within the boundaries of the Anchor Wreck. Anchor wreck site co-ordinates can be used for these wrecks.
Finds: 1809 Portrait Dollars.
1715 -- Cannon Wreck
Possibly the Mariagalante
GPS Coordinates: 27 48.202N to 27 47.451N
Access: Treasure Shore Beach Access 27 47.869N 80 24.993W.
Finds: Eight - Gold Escudos 1697 - 1714, 39 - Gold doubloons, 400 - Eight Reales, and Silver artifacts.
44,000 pesos of private treasure in coins carried in 12 chests and loose sacks 63 serones (large basket) of cochineal 169 serones and chests of indigo 870 cured hides 8 alfardas (Duty or tihes) 10 ton of Brazil wood 9 barrels of liquidambar 25 serones of uncultivated cochineal 58 chests of gifts 81 bales of Purga de Jalapa 18 chests of chocolate 51 chests of ceramic drinking vessels 4 bales of sneeze-wort 4 trunks or chests (contents not stated) 1 bale of quinine bark 7 chests of Chinese porcelain 8 bales of sarsaparilla 3 bales of Michoacán root (a drug) 7 chests of vanilla 11 bales of cocoa 12 jugs of oil of beto 16 jugs of copal (incense)
Wabasso Beach Access
GPS Coordinates: 27 45.809N 80 23.806W
Direction: Beach access is the intersection of C.R.510 and A1A.
Note: Site of Three Wrecks:
1824 -- Spring of Whitby Wreck to the north of the main beach.
1618 -- Green Cabin Wreck to the south of the main beach
1715 -- Corrigan's Wreck to the south of the main beach.
1824 -- Spring of Whitby
GPS Coordination: 27 46.000N 80 23.830W
Access: Golden Sands Beach Access 27 46.908N 80 24.462W
Access: Wabasso Beach Access 27 45.809N 80 23. 806W
There are Four cannon out past the 1st reef.
Two anchors out past the next reef.
Finds: Spanish silver bust-type coins
1618 -- Green Cabin Wreck
San Martin Almiranta of Honduran Fleet
GPS Coordinates: 27 45.280N to 27 44.247N
Directions: Approximately 2,100 feet Southeast of the Disney Vero Beach Ocean Resort.
Disney Resort Coordinates:
Entrance: 27 45.667N 80 23.839W
South East Beach Corner: 27 45.576N 80 23.692W
Resort Directions: Travel .16 miles South of the C.R. 510 and A1A Intersection.
Access: Wabasso Beach Access 27 45.809N 80 23. 806W
Note: Green Cabin wreck is located near the South Boundary of the Spring of Whitby wreck site and on the North Boundary of the Corrigan's wreck-site. Approximate Location: 27 45.250N 80 23.326W
Finds: Artifacts and 1715 wreck coins.
1715 -- Corrigan's Wreck Site
Santo Cristo de San Roman 450 tons, 54- 3,00lb Iron Cannons
GPS Coordination: 27 43.800N 80 22.800W
Directions and Access: Travel 1.46 miles South on A1A from C.R. 510 and A1A (Wabasso Beach) to the Seagrape State Beach Access. Seagrape State Beach Access is where the North end of the wreck is located.
Travel 2.2 miles South on A1A from C.R. 510 and A1A (Wabasso Beach) to the Turtle State Beach Access. This is the middle position of the wreck site.
Seagrape State Beach Access 27 44.666N 80 23.251W
Turtle State Beach Access 27 44.035N 80 22.996W
Note: The wreck is strewn over a large area between the beach accesses and to the north and south of them. The most ballast stones seem to be east of the Turtle Trail access about 400 feet off the beach.
Finds: Two-1715 Gold Reales (Very Rare), all detonations of gold and silver coins.
Best Place for Detecting: Seagrape Beach to Turtle Trail Beach.
1715 -- Corrigan's Wreck-Site
Santo Cristo de San Roman 450 tons, 54- 3,00lb Iron Cannons
2,687,416 pesos in 684 chests and sacks of silver and gold 728 leather bags of cochineal 1,702 leather bags and chests of indigo 139 sheets of copper 682 tanned leather hides 26 chests of earthen vessels 48 chests of vanilla beans 85 chests of gifts 8 earthen jugs of balsam & liquid amber 2 chests with writing desks 40 chests of chocolate and dust of oaxaca 2 chests of bath oil 30 leather sacks of wild cochineal 12 chests of anatto red dye 53 chests of worked silver 14 chests of Chinese porcelain 80 bales of lurga of talapa 9 leather sacks of cacao 500 quintales of brazil wood 31 bales of sarsaparilla.
1715 -- Rio Mar Wreck
Nuestra Senora del Carmen 713 tons, 72 Iron Cannons
GPS Coordination: 27 38.300N 80 20.900W
Directions: Travel A1A to Route S.R. 60 at the intersection go east to Ocean Drive. Turn right onto Ocean Drive follow the street till you get to Rio Mar Drive, in front of you is the Rio Mar Golf Course.
The first green "Tee" coordinates are (27 38.494N 80 21.127W) this is the point opposite of the wreck site.
Beach Access and Parking: 27 38.702N 80 21.220W
Note: Just walk South of the beach access point 1,200 feet till you get in front of the golf course. This is the main part of the wreck site.
Finds: Gold coins, jewelry, artifacts - great site to find something of value.
For the King:
46,095 pesos, 6 reales, 10 maravedis in gold doubloons, 309 Castellanos, 7 tomines, 6 grains of gold dust, 646 castellanos in two gold bars (small bars)
19 gold bars and some doubloons valued at 26,063 pesos, 2,650 pesos in gold doubloons,
1,485 in silver reales, 3 gold chains valued at 747 pesos, 47 serones of cocoa, 1 ½ tons of Brazil wood
Some items have been recovered from the site and not listed on the manifest are:
an emerald teardrop 02) a three-carat ruby stone 03) a gold finger ring with amethyst 04) 8 gold rings 05) 5 gold earrings 06) 2 gold brooches 07) 2 gold flower ornament holders 08) a gold hat pin 09) a gold hair piece 10) 2 gold crucifixes 11) 3 pairs of gold cuff-links.
These are only a few of the sites that exist and this will help you get started on your own treasure hunting journey. If you would like to learn more and visit a Spanish Galleon first hand join us at our next Sunken Treasure Workshop.