Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

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Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Balluga » March 13th, 2014, 10:08 pm

...As a kid in Ohio, I read every treasure hunting book on the local library shelf..Later, while diving at Catalina commercially, I would always keep a sharp eye out for unusual or out of place shapes while prying abalone..back then, we had just a compass and charts...no gps or satelite locating science to pinpoint locations..
...Once, while diving deep for white abalone on the backside of Catalina, I found a pile of round rocks that were of the type used for ballast in Spanish galleons...at my limit for the depth I was diving, I had to surface without searching the area...I took cross bearings for future reference and continued diving for abs. Some months later, I returned to the area and after an extensive effort, was unable to find the rock pile again. Over the years, I have made several searches, to no avail.
...My research indicates that at least three Spanish galleons went down off Catalina. In 1582, the "Santa Marta" sank. Another ship, the "Nuestra Senora De Ayuda" also is recorded as sinking there. The "San Sebastian" hit a rock outcropping on Janury 7, 1641 and sank. It hit the rocks while being chased by one George Compton, an English pirate.
...It is rumored to have sunk on the west side of Catalina and of the three ships, it is the most likely to be the one I may have located. Perhaps, one day, a dedicated treasure hunter will find that rockpile again and discover the San Sebastian gold rumored to be what George Compton was after.
...I did recover $80,000 in gold rings and necklaces once, but, it was in the mud of Naples Canal in Long Beach. Burglars had hit a residence and were spotted fleeing out a window by nearby construction workers. One dove into the canal to escape the foot pursuit, but, was chased down by a young guy who could swim. The crook dumped the loot in the middle of the canal just before capture.
...I was hired to recover the jewelry. I was very lucky, just barely spotting a small glimmer of gold in the mud and 12" vis. Using a scoop made of wire, I was able to recover all the jewelry except for a diamond necklace. It was in a wooden box and probably floated away on the current. Gold can be found in many strange places!
...
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Donzi Paul » March 14th, 2014, 9:13 am

Great story Bob, Thanks.

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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby 'o cino » March 14th, 2014, 9:30 am

If those stories don't get the fever started, there's just no motivation. Thanks Bob, can't wait to get back to the states and dive cat :)
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Balluga » March 14th, 2014, 10:16 am

If I were to search along the island today, I would also take a look off Arrow Point. It matches the description in Spanish archives which detail some of the early wrecks....
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Oscar » March 15th, 2014, 5:31 pm

An old diving buddy of mine from our diving days in Panama in the 60's found an old Spanish wreck off an island in the Bay of Panama which is right now being recovered by a professional group. The stuff they they ate uncovers is amazing and I am on the short list for 4 Spanish coins for a pendulum for the family. There is still treasure to be found. I was too damn busy spearing fish to look for Spanish treasure other than old bottles - dummy me :!:
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby chris oak » March 23rd, 2014, 7:55 am

Awesome stories. I think I read once that some of those ballast rocks can be pure silver, I'll have to jog the head but something about pirates melting the silver down into course rough shapes to fool people if they got boarded or when they hid it.
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Oscar » March 23rd, 2014, 8:18 am

True Chris. My old dive buddy from the 60's that discovered two Spanish wrecks fround silver bars mixed with rocks in what would have been the bottom of the hull. One of the wrecks is being excavated as I write and he has sent me some fb photos but won't show them without permission - maybe after the excavation is completed - they are just now into the 3rd month of working the site. Pretty good finds already.

I did a lot of spear fishing in the 50's along the mangroves and reefs below Fort San Larenzo at the entrance to the Chagres River in the Atlantic coast where Pirates did a lot of hanging out, raiding, etc. I saw lots of cannon's cano on bals, and old wooden hulls buried in the sand. But I was more interested in the nice Snook/Robalo that hung out in the shallows than gold or silver. I was told someone went into the same area a few years ago with underwater metal detector and found lots and lots of gold doubloons - damn better than snook :o
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Turtle » March 25th, 2014, 1:53 pm

How deep was that rock pile Bob?
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Re: Searching for Sunken Spanish Treasure

Postby Balluga » May 6th, 2014, 10:18 pm

probably 115 to 125'...was looking for sorenson (white) abs which are deeper than greens and pinks....the rock stack was in a pyramid and the rocks were completely round like balls, stacked 3 to 4' high....sure looked like it was man-made and the plant growth indicated it had been there a long time..
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