1715 Fleet Beach Site Revealed

 Along the East coast of Florida you can find an enormous wealth of Spanish treasure on any given beach within a 10 mile stretch of Sea Grape Trail in Vero Beach.  Mike Maguire was just that lucky in 1995 when he discovered  a quarter million dollars worth of 1715 Fleet jewelry on the beach near Sea Grape Trail.
  Vero Beach has been a beach site known as Corrigan's for its shipwrecked coins that are washed up on its sandy beaches from the doomed 1715 Plate Fleet. Mike Maguire was in the right place at the right time when he discovered a 24K solid gold jewelry box on the beach. When Mike opened the box he found 5 rings and a rosary. 
  I have had the opportunity to treasure hunt with Mike on a couple of  occasions and had the time of my life. Whether we were beach combing the 1715 Fleet wreck site or under water on his treasure salvage vessel the Black Drum, something about treasure hunting get its teeth into you. 


1715 Fleet Solid Gold Box


Twin blower equipped, diesel powered Black Drum heads towards secret 1715 Fleet location A.K.A. "The Corrigans Wreck."



 Captain Mike aboard the Black Drum in Sebastian.

 These are the blowers used to make a large 15 feet deep hole in the ocean floor.

    On Friday night 9:00p.m. Mike called and said he was going 1715 Fleet treasure hunting tomorrow and wanted to know if I was in. Who would turn down an offer like this to dive the greatest Spanish  treasure wreck site of all time. I was in my car Saturday morning at 4:00a.m. and after a three and a half hour drive from Fort Myers to Captain Hyram's Marina in Sebastian, the treasure hunting team of  2000 was on the boat and heading  2.5 miles south of the Sebastian Inlet. This is the location of General Ubilla's "Capitana" Senora de la Regla or what the divers call the Cabin Wreck.

  Saturday July 15, 2000 Hewey from Mo Molinars Virgalona finds this dead eye from an old ship.

No shortage of treasure hunters this day, we saw at least 15 boats in the area we searched. This is Ace, number C-7.

 The wrecks from the 1715 Fleet are protected by admiralty claims. This means you can not use a metal detector in the water of the wreck sites. It is a violation of state law to destroy or disturb any vegetation on the dune line. Trespassing on private property is also a violation.

 Other treasure hunters at the Cabin Wreck site.

 Do not do this! What this guy is doing is illegal. These waters are covered by admiralty laws and no one is allowed to enter the water in search of treasure.

Mo Molinar's crew  uncovered a 19th century dead eye Saturday afternoon with dual mailboxes on the Virgalona under 15 feet of sand. As far as I know this was the only significant find for the day, but enthusiasm is still running high as we were only at one of the wreck sites with fifteen other treasure salvaging vessels in our area and nine other wreck sites down the coast.

 Mike Maguire with his Fisher´┐Ż metal detector along the sand dunes in Sebastian at the site of the Cabin Wreck.

 "Millions of dollars of Spanish treasure await those who would dare brave the eye of the hurricane"
 Capt. Mike Maguire
Beckoned By The Sea
Waters Hold Vast Treasures


 Lake Mary - Mike Maguire came to Central Florida to seek his fortune.
 A decade ago he was looking to the sky in the space program where he worked for a  government contractor. Today he's looking below the surface of the ocean.
 A modern day pirate of sorts, the Lake Mary resident sails the seas in his boat, the Whidah, in search of gold, jewels an other treasures aboard ships of the Spanish fleet.
 He boards and searches ships that sank in the Caribbean in a hurricane in 1715.
 " Every time you go out there, there's a chance you'll come back a millionaire," he said, with a gleam in his eye.
 His brown hair, kissed with gold from the sun, is pulled in a pony tail at the back of his neck.
 A bronze is the tell-tale sign of a summer in the sun.
 Maguire said he is a subcontractor for treasure hunter Mel Fisher who has discovered more sunken treasure off Florida's coast than anyone. Fisher pays those who subcontract for him a certain percentage of the value of the finds. The items themselves are placed in museums.
"This is all a part of Florida's history," Maguire said. "Its all so  important to understanding this part of Florida history.
 The temptation to take some of the beautiful gold and jeweled-encrusted pieces must always be there, but the treasure hunter said he knows he can make enough money legitimately, and he believes the historical significance of the pieces far outweighs the personal gain it might bring him.
 Though his 28 foot vessel, berthed in the Caribbean, is equipped with sophisticated metal detection equipment, Maguire admits that much of what he brings to the surface is "right out on top of reefs where anyone could find it."
 He hopes those who have no respect for the historical significance of the pieces would stay away from the reefs where the 1715 fleet sank.
 Maguire has one piece of memorabilia from an eighteenth century wreck - a several-ton anchor that once held a ship secure is now planted securely in his back yard, a tribute to the treasure hunter's pursuits.
 He said he did not grow up wanting to dive for sunken treasure, but the idea began to appeal to him when he was in his mid-20s. At 35, he said, he enjoys his work, but knows he must have other income options.

Reprinted with permission from the Sanford Herald, Sanford, Florida - Sunday, August 25, 1996.

1715 Fleet Shipwreck Site Locations

 Team member Frank Burrows of Orlando finds a conglomerate this day in July  15, 2000.

 Sunken Treasures Lure Florida Hunters To Secret Location      
    A crew of mostly Central Florida men and several renowned treasure hunters will head out to sea soon in search of sunken treasure thought to be worth millions off Central America's coast.
  A five year contract with a Central American country to salvage offshore treasure restricts them from releasing details about the expedition right now, crew members said. 
  Several, however, hinted this week that they have located more than a dozen shipwrecks dating back to the late 1600s from along the shoreline out into waters 160 feet deep.
  Among the shipwrecks, they said, is a galleon that sank soon after leaving Central America on a return trip to Spain. The galleon carry 200 wealthy passengers and more than $100 million worth of silver and other treasures, they said.
  Mike Maguire of Lake Mary is leading the salvage operation under the direction of Jim Sinclair, a marine archaeologist and conservationist who worked for 16 years with treasure hunter Mel Fisher.
  Sinclair's job is to clean, identify and date the artifacts. He is charged with preventing damage to the treasure and underwater habitat near the shipwrecks.

 Captain Mike Maguire with a 300 year
 old galleon anchor.


  The expeditions, which already has cost more $1 million, is being financed by Bill Pearson, a Lake Helen resident who specializes in collecting, selling and buying Spanish treasure coins and artifacts.
  Pearson said other crew members include certified rescue and recovery divers who are retired or retiring from police and fire departments in Volusia and Brevard counties.
  The salvage operation will be conducted from The Orcadia, a 160 foot passenger freighter owned by Gary Jenurm of Ormond Beach, as well as a 40 foot boat.
  Salvors will use a variety of tools in their search, Sinclair said.  One controversial method involves devices used by Mel Fisher called mailboxes. 
  These elbow shaped metal tubes direct water from the boat's propellers to blow sand away from hidden treasure. Holes left by mailboxes average 20 to 30 feet wide and 3 to 5 feet deep.
  Earlier this month, the mailboxes were the subject of a U.S. District Court ruling in Miami. The court required Fisher and his son, Kane, to pay nearly $590,000 for destroying more than an acre of protecting sea grass beds off Key West in 1992. This case
was later dismissed.
  The ruling was the first enforcement action in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to go to trial. The sanctuary was created in 1990 to protect 2,899 nautical square miles of water.
  Sinclair said the Central American project also is in an environmentally sensitive area. He said, though, that the government has assigned an agent to supervise the operations at all times to ensure that no damages occurs.
  Maguire, who also has hunted for sunken treasure with Mel Fisher over the years, said the Central American expedition has been five years in the making.
    It has included researching where the galleons might have sunk, locating and identifying the shipwrecks, learning what part those galleons played in history, determining what tools are needed to salvage the treasure and getting proper contracts and permits to begin the hunt.
  Under the contract, the government will keep a portion of any treasure the salvors discover, Pearson said. The crew can keep a percentage of its findings and can donate artifacts to historical museums.

  Sinclair has searched for sunken treasure for about 20 years and was on the 1985 expedition with Fisher when he found the bulk of the treasure of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. The Spanish galleon, loaded with an estimated $400 million in gold, silver and gems, sank in 1622 during a hurricane off Key West.
  "It is exciting to discover little pieces of history that have broken off, gone adrift and sunk," Sinclair said. "they offer us a cross section look of what life was like in certain times of history."
  A professional treasure hunter must be persistent, he said.
  "if you give up after a week and you haven't made a discovery, you'll never find treasure," he said.

Newest Treasure at Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum in Sebastian is an ornate gold cross and emerald ring. Mike Maguire surfaced the items from the ocean floor Monday. Superstitious Spaniards may have placed a lock of hair or fingernail from a saint of their time behind the stone mounted in the ring to keep them safe in their journey.

Reprinted from the Orlando Sentinel 1996

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The water was freezing and it rained all the way back in. Treasure hunting is still fun!!!


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