Searching for Lost Treasures off the Florida Coast

Where do authors find their inspirations?

For my new story, Diamond Island, I received my inspiration from a story my friends told me about the lost Peruvian empire.  I read about treasures lost at sea.  I read stories about fact,  fiction and lore.  I devoured anything pertaining to hidden treasures. I normally read novels from a couple of my favorite authors, but instead I branched out into something different.

And I’m glad I did.  I found new inspiration.

The world was a far different place from the 16th through the 18th century. No telephones, no computers, and no airplanes. Communicating with friends or family across the country or across the world meant sending a letter that took weeks to arrive. Visiting was even more treacherous; either a long ride across dusty trails or being stuck inside the belly of a ship, propelled only by the wind, for months.

Supplies came to the new country in much the same way, and often boats were hijacked by the many roving bands of pirates that scoured the high seas. These pirates often boarded a ship and took anything of value, so they quickly built up storerooms filled with lots of jeweled bling and plentiful gold ingots-  if they weren’t robbed by a stronger band of pirates! Of course, the ocean waters turned cruel with every storm, so there was always the possibility of the ship sinking along with all of its men and its treasure reserves.

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Some pirates found safe hiding places for their treasures along the coasts where they sailed or on uninhabited islands. Many buried their treasures expecting to come back for them, so many of those treasures remain buried for some lucky person to find. Some parts of the world have more than their share of sunken lost treasures still lying unclaimed, both onshore and off. One of those places is right here in the United States – Florida!

The Florida Keys

For treasure hunters, the Florida Keys are an amazing place to search. The Keys abound with stories of sunken treasure ships, and there are many treasure maps available and scores of books written about the ships, how they went down, and what they were carrying when lost. Though it’s been hundred of years since some of  these ships sunk, many are still down there just waiting for a determined band of divers to find them along the ocean bottom.

One such ship, the wreck of a Spanish slave ship known as the Guerrero that sunk in 1827 was recently identified off the northern reef of Key Largo. This ship had a lengthy history as a pirate vessel, but had taken to delivering slaves from Africa to the new country. Excavations so far have found wooden plank fragments, metal rigging, blue-edged earthenware, a cologne bottle and copper fasteners. It remains to be seen what else treasure hunters will dig up from the deep ocean floor.

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The Treasure Coast

The Treasure Coast area of Florida lies on the eastern coast of the state, from north of Palm Beach County to the Space Coast area around Cape Canaveral. It was nicknamed the Treasure Coast because of the many Spanish galleons that have sunk in the area with their crews and payloads intact. In fact, treasures like silver plates and golden goblets randomly wash up on the beaches to this day as a reminder of the amazing riches that still lie undisturbed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1715, Spain had assembled an entire fleet of eleven ships and looted all the gold, pearls, emeralds, and silver they could find to transfer the wealth from Cuba to Spain. This was one of the largest treasure fleets ever, and they all went down in a hurricane just off the shore of Florida’s Treasure Coast.treasure chst gold blog 2

The Schmitt family has been searching for the lost treasure for years, and in 2015, they found some of what they were looking for – about $1million worth of gold about 150 yards offshore from Fort Pierce. Still, they know the ocean has not given up all its secrets yet, and they continue to dig in the silt for the mother lode they know exists. Four of the eleven ships have still to be located, with one of those, the San Miguel, estimated to have been carrying up to $2 billion in treasures. That is certainly worth suiting up and diving for, or maybe it’s time to hit the beach in Florida – you never know when a Spanish Galleon might get washed ashore by the tide!

Do you like the lure of finding hidden treasures?

Let me know what else you’d like to read about in my blogs?

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I’m your typical writer. I fill the early mornings before the sun comes up, sitting at my favorite spot, creating new characters, new scenes, and new stories. My creativity and wanderlust, especially if it involves water, never ends.

  • Chuck Soderstrom January 15, 2017, 2:25 pm

    Pam, I enjoyed your article! It makes me want to read more about treasure finds along the eastern coast of Florida (where I spend much of my time). Thank you!

    • Pam Laux Moll January 16, 2017, 5:59 am

      Glad you enjoyed it. Makes me want to suit up and scuba. I live on the west coast of FL & I see many beach goers with metal detectors searching for lost treasures of a different kind.

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