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Florida with it’s huge 1,197 Statute Miles of coastline has it’s fair share of lost shipwrecks. Hundreds of years ago, when weather forecasting relied on gut instinct and not million dollar radar systems, ships were lost to hurricanes frequently. Below are two stories of gold-laden wooden vessels that went down off the coast of the sunshine state. Happy hunting pirates!

  • In 1555, only one ship, the “Santa Maria Del Camino,“ 200 tons, commanded by Captain Alonzo Martin Morejon, was dispatched to Nombre de Dios in Panama to pick up all of that year’s treasures from South America. She took on 1.8 million pesos in gold and silver in Panama and then an unspecified amount of gold, emeralds and pearls in Cartagena, Colombia. A hurricane drove the ship ashore and it was dashed to pieces near St. Lucie Inlet on the east coast of Florida. Indians massacred most of the survivors, but kept some of them prisoners until they were rescued several years later by Spaniards from Havana, who were searching for ambergris.
  • In 1563, the 250 ton galleon, “La Madalena,” commanded by Capt. Cristobel Rodriquez, was returning to Spain from Veracruz, Mexico and Havana. She was cast up on a shoal during a bad storm and of the 300 odd souls aboard her, only 16 survived in the small-boat. At the time she carried over 50 tons of silver in bullion and specie (coins), 170 boxes of worked silver (like candle sticks, plates, etc.), 1,110 pounds of gold in small ingots and jewelry, plus other valuables belonging to passengers. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, all of her cannon were bronze. This makes finding her more difficult as a magnetometer can only detect ferrous metals. Hopefully she went down with some of her iron anchors still aboard. The good side is that bronze cannon from this period, depending on the amount of ornamentation and markings on them, can bring as much as $30,000 each and she carried 28 of them. Six months after being lost a salvage vessel was sent up from Havana but failed to find any traces of her or her cargo. A shrimp boat snagged into a bronze cannon in the general area she was lost and the gun just happens to date from this period. The gun was sold to a private collector for $15,000 but could have netted twice this amount if sold to a museum or in an auction. Another bronze cannon was also accidentally brought up in a shrimper’s net within two miles of the other, but it dated from the mid-1770’s and was from another wreck. Within five miles from where both guns were found, a chest of some 3,000 Spanish four and eight real coins, dating between 1748 and 1751 were also accidentally brought up in a shrimper’s net.

(Stories from



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