In the early hours of July, 31, 1715 a catastrophic hurricane ravaged and destroyed one of the richest Spanish fleets ever assembled. Eleven treasure-laden galleon’s were forced to surrender to the vast depths of the Atlantic ocean, off the coast of what is now known as Vero Beach, Florida.
Vast quantities of gold, silver, jewelry, gems, religious relics, ceramics and more were tossed into the wild sea, alongside hundreds of passengers and sailors. More than ten million pesos worth of goods were lost among the stormy waves.
What few survivors there were found themselves strangers in a new land – the Florida coast – and survival became their only priority. A makeshift camp was created, and eventually, after hearing of the disaster, Spanish colonial officials made their way to the survivors. Salvage efforts began, and the Spanish miraculously recovered large portions of the treasure, but by the end of summertime in 1717, the salvage efforts were terminated, and for sometime, the location of the wreck was essentially forgotten.
Over the years, inhabitants of the area became accustomed to strange items washing upon the shores of the aptly named “Treasure Coast,” especially after a strong storm. Rumors of lost or sunken treasure ships persisted, and residents became obsessed with beachcombing, attempting to find pieces of the treasure. Finally, in the 1960’s, an organized effort to recover the lost treasure of the 1715 fleet commenced, and those efforts are still going on today.
People from all over the world will be venturing to the “Treasure Coast” this July, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the catastrophic and historical event. For an entire week, Vero Beach will be hosting an array of events to promote public awareness and scholarly study of all facets of the 1715 Fleet disaster. From “Treasure Talks,” to commemoration banquets, to a two-day symposium, participants in the anniversary commemoration will have the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the disaster.
Learning about the disaster will be exciting enough, but for some, treasure seeking is where the real thrill lies, and you can bet there will be some serious treasure hunters flocking to the Treasure Coast this July.
The 300th anniversary is such a huge event, an entire society has been created to be in charge of the event, and its festivities. If you’re considering venturing to the Treasure Coast this July, the 1715 Fleet Society is the go-to source for any information regarding the event. Unlike the poor survivors of the shipwreck, anniversary participants won’t have to sleep in makeshift camps. The lavish Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa lies in the heart of the Treasure Coast, and is within close proximity to all of the excitement.
Gaze out upon the vast Atlantic ocean and envision the enormous ships bearing the riches of the New World. Walk along the beaches of the Treasure Coast and picture the wild hurricane that destroyed eleven ships. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a piece of the lost treasure, and help to continue on the legacy of the 1715 Fleet.