Greetings to all of our website visitors. Today, Sunday July 31st, is the 296th anniversary of the 1715 Fleet Disaster. In the early morning hours of July 31, 1715, one of the richest Spanish treasure fleets ever assembled was homeward bound but in trouble. Carrying a fortune in gold, silver and jewels from Spain’s New World Empire, the fleet was trying to outrun an ominous-looking storm pursuing it up the Florida Straits. The bulky treasure-laden galleons were just not fast enough. By 2 a.m. one hundred knot winds, torrential rains, and mountainous waves were breaking over the fragile wooden ships of the Fleet. A category 4 or 5 hurricane had caught up to the Spanish Treasure Fleet in the Florida Straits. The galleons were helpless as the fury of the hurricane enveloped them. Within an hour or so eleven of the twelve ships in the Fleet, including all the treasure galleons, capsized in deep water or were driven onto the reefs and sandy shores of the Florida coast. More than a thousand men and women, crew and passengers, perished with the sunken or wrecked ships. By dawn a desolate stretch of Florida coast was strewn with exhausted survivors, lifeless bodies, and tons of debris from the broken galleons. It was one of the worst sea disasters of all time. 296 years ago today.
The 1715 Fleet Society is dedicated to commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the 1715 Fleet Disaster. We feel that we have an obligation to do what we can to document and preserve Fleet history. Soon we will be publishing (or republishing) a series of interviews–our form of oral history. These interviews will be with individuals who played important roles in the discovery, recovery, and preservation of Fleet treasures. Our interviewees will include those who took the trouble to record that history as it was occurring. Some of these individuals are no longer with us. Most recently we have lost Lou Ullian, Del Long, Bob Weller and Mo Molinar. These losses remind us that it is vital that this history be recorded before it is gone forever. This is the job of a curator. We consider ourselves to be curators of the history of the 1715 Fleet.