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Buried Treasure

By Gregory M. Hupé



 After 23 years of serious thought and planning of treasure hunting the Florida coast, I finally found some in October 2004. While in high school, I had dreams of traveling to the Florida "Treasure Coast" in search of lost riches from the ill-fated Spanish 1715 Plate Fleet. It is called the "Plate" fleet due to the abundance of silver (Plata in Spanish, hence the name, 'Plate'). The fleet of 11 Spanish galleons sank off of the east coast near Vero Beach after a violent hurricane over took the unsuspecting mariners.

 After high school I had planned to fly to Florida after a hurricane in search of gold and silver, which washes up onto the beach after serious storms and hurricanes. Much is buried under several feet of sand, which is stripped away after such acts of Mother Nature. I suppose it is her way of giving some back after taking it nearly 300 years ago. I would plan to use a metal detector for the task.


 I had waited over 20 years without any hurricanes hitting the area directly. Who would have thought that after moving to Florida a few months before that a succession of hurricanes would devastate Florida, two of which hit Vero Beach and the surrounding areas dead on within weeks of each other! I now had two occasions to drive the 2-hours it would take to get to one of the richest galleon wreck sites known.


 During the wait for a hurricane to hit the area, I did extensive research on the Internet about where the wreck sites where. I settled with directions and coordinates from a web site that looked good.

 The first trip was a few days after Hurricane Frances tore through the area. I went three times during a 2-week period and found many modern U.S. coins and a few artifacts from the site, mostly bronze rivets and possibly one very weathered silver half reale.


 The second hurricane, Jeanne, would do even more damage and expose more of the older layers of beach. I made two trips to the coast and didn't find anything, not even a penny, during six hours of searching the first day. The night before my second outing, I decided to compare coordinates and landmarks from the web site against a book written by Bob “Frogfoot” Weller. I discovered that the web site missed a large southern area of one of the wrecks closest to the beach. I decided I would try the area from the web site first and then go to the southern area that was overlooked.
 After my research for the night was over, I decided to watch the movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean" for good luck, or as the saying goes, "Good Luck equals Preparation plus Opportunity". I would find out the next day just how true that is.

 The next morning, after 2-hours of detecting the well-searched area of the web site location, I went to the southern area I wanted to investigate. After approximately 30 minutes, I found my first Spanish silver half reale in excellent condition. I couldn't believe it, here in my hand was a 300-year old piece of Spanish treasure! I was elated and looked around me to see if there was anyone who saw my body motions or heard my voice exclaiming in delight. No one was around so I felt confident nobody realized I had found a good spot.


 I jotted down notes and made a detailed map for future searching. I continued in a grid pattern to search the site very carefully and was rewarded with a small caliber musket ball from an old pistol. This, too, was from the 1715 fleet. Another few minutes and I found my second coin, which was not in as good of condition.

 I continued my search, when after another hour, my metal detector blared out the alert of another find. This time I found a gold ring in very good condition. It was still in its perfect circle-shape but the outside was dulled from the many years of abuse from sand abrasion. The inside had some corrosion but revealed brilliant gold along the edges. I would find out later that it was from the 1715 fleet and was most likely 10 carats.

 After such a bountiful day and being late, I decided I would make the 2-hour drive back to Lakeland and photograph my finds to share with my friends via email.


 I  would have to wait three days in order to return to “my” spot in order to continue the hunt where I left off. When I returned, I did a thorough grid search of the area where I found the gold ring. Within an hour I found what it is all about, a gold escudo, or doubloon as the pirates called them.

 I could not believe my eyes when I dug out the object my metal detector sounded out. I smoothed the sand away to reveal a gleaming golden coin. Wow! What a feeling. I was awestruck. I didn’t make a noise and didn’t do the chicken dance this time. My mouth just dropped in shock. I thought, “Cool, now what do I do with it?” Simple enough, I stuffed it into my zippered pocket and went right back to finishing the search area I set forth earlier.


 It wasn’t until I was driving home that it all struck me, I found what all kids, young or old, dream about. I found the ultimate buried treasure, a gold coin from the time of pirates! I truly realized a dream in the most unbelievable way and am almost saddened by it. I reached a long time goal so now what do I do? Dumb question Greg, you go out there and find the rest of the treasure chest!!!


Happy hunting!


Bob "Frogfoot" Weller and myself at his house playing show
and tell with each other's treasures.




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