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By midnight, 100-mile-per-hour winds, heavy rain and massive waves broke over the fleet.The hurricane had trapped the ships in the narrow Old Bahama Channel and was driving them toward the reefs along the Florida coast.) and found evidence of Spanish Colonial campsites. Air Force and NASA officers who were divers and “closet” treasure hunters, and in 1960 he partnered with them.The artifacts he uncovered convinced Wagner beyond a doubt that the shipwrecks lie just offshore, but how to go about salvaging them? Their first season of treasure hunting proved fruitless, but the group soldiered on. That day, Wagner and his group recovered more than 2,000 Spanish silver 8 reales, or “pieces of eight.” Within days, they established the Real Eight Company, aptly named because of its principal items of salvage and because there were eight partners.
Almost 182 years before, 16 ships of Spain’s 1533 fleet had met the same fate in the same place.
…after a northeast wind, those of our crew who walked the beach repeatedly found pistareens and double pistareens.” On the map, next to what he called the Sebastian River, he noted, “Opposite this river perished the Admiral commanding the Plate Fleet of 1715.”Though it is now unclear exactly where Romans saw the masts and whether they had anything to do with the 1715 wreck (very likely they did not), Wagner was convinced that Romans had accurately identified the site.
He searched the area surrounding modern-day Sebastian Inlet (with a bulldozer!
For three years, the wreck was sporadically salvaged and plundered.
By the end of 1718, survivors, salvors and pirates were long gone from Florida’s sandy shores.
In 1959 Kelso found an 18th-century map of Eastern Florida published by cartographer Bernard Romans.