On this day!
June 10, 2007
On this day in 2007 this magnificent gold money chain was found. What makes it unique is the fob that was found still attached! These chains were used by many as currency. People would twist off a link and use as money. This chain in particular is 58" long and has over 400 links. The links were all handmade in South America and found on the Santa Margarita Shipwreck site.
History on galleons and Santa Margarita: Much of the one and a half million pesos worth of treasure-aboard worth today perhaps $400 million-was assigned to the Santa Margarita and the new ship, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. The Atocha had been built in the Havana shipyard and, sure to bring her good luck, was named for the most revered religious shrine in Spain. Just in case the Almighty’s providence didn’t extend to sinking Dutch warships, the Atocha was fitted with 20 bronze cannons. This strong ship was to be the almiranta, sailing last to protect the slow, lumbering merchant ships in the rear of the flota. The Tierra Firme and Guard ships – 28 vessels in all-departed from Havana on September 4, six weeks behind schedule.
On September 5, the fleets were overtaken by a rapidly-moving hurricane. As dawn streaked the horizon, it brought dread to the more experienced sailors. The gale force winds, rising out of the northeast, quickly increased. The gusts raked the surface of the northward-flowing Gulf Stream, piling up huge seas in front of the ships. Aboard the Atocha, the chief pilot lit a lantern as clouds and rain blackened the sky. Ahead, the lead galleons were already out of sight. The merchant ships sailing close by the almiranta were themselves hidden by rain as the storm swept by. Crewmen scrambled into the rigging to take in sail. As they hung from this fragile rope spider’s web high above the deck, the ends of the yard arms dipped into the ocean as the ship rolled violently. Frothing green water roared across the deck. Just before darkness, a veil of spray closed around the seasick passengers and crew of the Atocha. They watched in horror as the tiny Nuestra Senora de la Consolacion, wallowing in the mammoth seas, simply capsized and disappeared.
That night, the wind shifted, coming out of the south. The hurricane now hurled the fleet north toward the Florida reef line. Before daylight, the Marquis’ ship-the Candeleria-and 20 other vessels passed to the west of a group of rocky islands, the Dry Tortugas. Beyond the reefs of the Straits of Florida, they rode out the winds in the safe, deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Behind them, they’d left several small merchant vessels on the bottom in deep water. At least four ships, including the Atocha and Santa Margarita, were swept headlong into the Florida Keys. Near a low-lying atoll fringed with mangroves, 15-foot rollers carried the Margarita across the reef, grounding her in the shallows beyond.
The lost ships of the 1622 treasure fleet lay scattered over 50 miles stretching from the Dry Tortugas eastward to where the Atocha slipped beneath the water. About 550 people perished along with a total cargo worth more than 2 million pesos.