Thursday, September 3, 2015

9/3/15 Report - Some 1715 Fleet Salvage History and Implications. Five Simple Ways To Improve Detector Perfomance.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

I thought I'd present a little of the history on the 1715 Fleet today.

We know about the salvage efforts of recent years, but salvage of the fleet started immediately after the disaster.  Of course the first priority was survival.  Fresh water and food was needed.  Guns were undoubtedly a top priority.

Imagine the hostile environment of the barrier islands in those days.  I read that survivors buried themselves in the sand for relief from the mosquitoes.

Within a week of the disaster, Juan del Hoy Solrozano, sergeant major at Havana, had divers working on three of the eleven ships.   Those were the Tierra Firme Almiranta, Urca de Lima and La Hollandesa.  Those efforts continued for several years.

Illegal salvors also arrived from all over the Caribbean.  In 1718, that is three years after the disaster, the Spanish surprised and captured eight sloops in the act of looting the wrecks.

We also know how in 1716 Henry Jennings attacked the salvage camp where a lot of the salvaged treasure was kept in a block house that was on the narrow strip of land near the present McClarty museum.

As I've mentioned a few times lately, it weren't thrown away so much like they are today.  In days past items were repaired again and again.  Archaeological excavations show items such as guns that were over a hundred years old that had been repaired and upgraded again and again and were still in service a 100 years after they were first manufactured.  That is something that can make it more difficult to identify the age of artifacts.

We can imagine the Native Americans and how they would have been attracted to the wrecks and any strange items found on the wrecks or on the beach.

I remember once when a cargo ship leaving Port Everglades lost a cargo container of furniture and people were running up and down the beach picking up what they could.  It was mostly small tables, as I recall.  That would have been nothing to the wreckage of the 1715 Fleet.

I think people often think of the wreck as happening and then just laying there to decompose over the years.  I'm thinking that it must have been like a carcass on the Savannas of Africa.  It would have attracted everybody from miles around.  First the big predators like the lions and jackals, which would have to protect the carcass from other predators or lose their prize.  Then would come the smaller predators and vultures to clean up any easy pickings.  It wouldn't stop until every useful item that could be easily obtained was taken.

The only thing that saved all of that treasure over the years is the water and sand, which made the remaining treasure invisible and/or simply unsalvageable.

We know that by 1744, while much of what could be salvaged at that time had been salvaged, the British cartographer Bernard Romans reported the masts of the Spanish Fleet were still visible above the water.

You know how it goes.  The beach hides things like coins.  The sand covers it up, only exposing a little from time to time when the conditions are right, and then covers it up again.

The masts and other visible signs eventually rotted away or were covered up and the fleet faded into history until Kip Wagner started it all over again.

One thought I wanted to put out there today is that the galleons and all the treasure didn't sink straight to the bottom and then sit there for three hundred years undisturbed.  We know the water moves things from time to time, but I think we often fail to take into account all that took place in the years after the sinking, especially all of the salvage efforts by the Spanish, pirates or privateers, and Native Americans.

We know that items have been found around the salvage camps.  I'm sure the the salvage crews, working with less technology and precision than is exercised today, picked up items and sometimes lost them in the sand again.  I'm sure that there were people who made off at night to bury their own little personal cache with the hope of recovering it at some future time.

When you find a piece of treasure on the Treasure Coast, it might have been lost and found before.  It might have been salvaged and then lost in one way or another.  It might have been lost by pirates.

One thing I find useful is this chart that I've posted a few times before.

The chart provides a reminder of many of the ways that things were dispersed from pre-impact to post salvage.

It is difficult to guess how an item ended up where it did.  It might have come from the local shipwreck.   Or it might have ended up where it was found only after a long series of human and natural events.  That makes it all the more mysterious and wonderful, and provides a lot of food for thought as we try to unravel the mystery.


Here are five simple ways to improve detector performance without any adjusting your settings.

1. Keep you coil close to the ground.

2. Keep your coil at the same distance from the ground through the entire sweep.

3. The front and back of the coil should be the same distance off the ground - not tilted.

4. Make the change in direction at the end of each sweep smooth.  Take some of the jerkiness out of the change in direction.

5. Identify and use the optimal sweep speed.


We had a West wind this morning on the Treasure Coast.  The surf was only around one foot.  Expect a smooth surf through at least the weekend.

Fred is still out there as a tropical storm but won't affect us.

Happty hunting,