The heavily armed Nuestra Señora de Atocha sailed as Almirante, or rear guard, of the flota, following the others to prevent an attack from behind the fleet. For extra protection, she bore the identify of the holiest of shrines in Madrid. She had been built for the Crown in Havana in 1620 and was rated at 550 tons, with an overall length of 112 feet, a radio beam of 34 feet and a draft of 14 feet. She carried square-rigged fore and mainmasts, and a lateen mizzenmast. Atocha would have had the high sterncastle, low waist and high forecastle of a distinctive early seventeenth century galeón. She had made only one former ocean trip to Spain, during which her mainmast was outburst, and had to be replaced . For the 1622 fall voyage, Atocha was loaded with a cargo that is, today, about beyond impression — 24 tons of silver bullion in 1038 ingots, 180,00 philippine peso of silver coins, 582 copper ingots, 125 amber bars and disk, 350 chests of indigo, 525 bales of tobacco, 20 bronze cannon and 1,200 pounds of worked silverware ! To this can be added items being smuggled to avoid tax, and unregistered jewelry and personal goods ; all creating a treasure that could surely rival any other ever amassed.
Reading: Atocha History
The Nuestra Señora de Atocha sank with 265 people onboard. entirely five — three sailors and two slaves — survived by holding on to the stump of the mizzenmast, which was the only part of the wrecked galleon that remained above water. Rescuers tried to enter the drown giant, but found the hatches tightly battened. The water depth, at 55 feet, was to great to allow them to work to open her. They marked the site of her loss and moved on to rescue people and care for from Santa Margarita and Nuestra Señora del Rosario, other ships besides lost in the storm. On October 5th a second base hurricane came through, and further destroyed the wreck of the Atocha. For the future 60 years, spanish salvagers searched for the galleon, but they never found a trace. It seemed she was gone for good . In 1969, Mel Fisher and his prize Salvors crew began a grim, sixteen class quest for the treasure of the Atocha. Using sand-clearing propwash deflectors, or “ mailboxes, ” that he invented, and specially-designed proton magnetometers, they spent farseeing years following the bust up ’ s elusive chase — sometimes finding nothing for months, and then recovering bits of treasure and artifacts that tauntingly indicated the proximity of the ship and its cargo. In 1973, three silver bars were found, and they matched the weights and match numbers found on the Atocha ’ mho manifest, which had been transcribed from the original in Seville. This verified that Fisher was close to the major part of the wrecksite. In 1975, his son Dirk found five bronze cannon whose markings would clinch identification with the Atocha. only days late, Dirk and his wife Angel, with loon Rick Gage, were killed when one of the salvage boats capsized. Yet Fisher and his audacious crew persevered.
By 1980, they had found a significant dowry of the remains of the Santa Margarita — with a fortune in gold bars, jewelry and ash grey coins. On May 12, 1980, Fisher ’ s son Kane discovered a complete section of the Margarita ’ s wooden hull weighted down by ballast resistor stones, cast-iron cannon balls and artifacts of seventeenth century Spain . On July 20, 1985, Kane Fisher, captain of the salvage vessel Dauntless, sent a exultant message to his beget ’ second headquarter, “ Put away the charts ; we ’ ve found the main down ! ” ecstatic crew members described the find as looking like a reef of silver medal bars. Within days, the shipper ’ sulfur marks on the bars were matched to the Atocha ’ s cargo manifest, confirming Kane ’ s exultant claim. At hanker final, the crash ’ s “ motherlode ” had been found — and the dig of what was widely referred to as the “ shipwreck of the century ” began. promptly, Duncan Mathewson, Mel Fisher ’ second chief archeologist, assembled a team of archaeologists and conservators from across the state to ensure that the artifacts and care for were excavated and preserved by rights. Because the fabric had lain on the ocean floor for three and a half centuries, a lot of it was in an extremely unstable submit ; immediate preservation treatment was required to prevent its destruction after it left its seawater grave.
nowadays artifacts and treasures from the Atocha and Margarita form the cornerstone of the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum ’ s collection. Among the items found on the wrecks are a fortune in gold, silver bars, and coins destined for the coffers of Spain ; a solid amber belt and necklace set with gems ; a gold chalice designed to prevent its drug user from being poisoned ; an intricately-tooled gold plate ; a gold chain that weighs more than seven pounds ; a horde of bootleg emeralds — including an impressive 77.76 karat uncut hexangular quartz glass experts have traced to the Muzo mine in Colombia ; religious and profane jewelry ; and silverware. With the treasure, and possibly ultimately more important, were countless articles that provide insight into seventeenth-century life sentence, specially under sail : rare navigational instruments, military armaments, native american objects, tools of versatile trades, ceramic vessels, galley wares, even seeds and insects. A assign of the Atocha ’ s lower hull were examined and then recovered to be stored in a protected lagoon at the Florida Keys Community College, making them promptly accessible to interested researchers. Following a farseeing conservation process, the many of the artifacts from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita are nowadays on permanent expose at the nonprofit organization Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. approximately 200,000 people visit the Key West museum annually to marvel at them — and applaud the exuberate of the human intent that their recovery represents .