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Florida's Treasure Coast
Florida’s  Treasure Coast & 1715 Fleet
By Bob Ellis 05-11-07
In between Sebastian, FL and Stuart, FL lies miles of beaches called the Treasure Coast where during the 17th and 18th centuries Spanish ships and galleons wrecked along this coast. Some of the ships were filled with unbelievable treasures from the New World and the Orient that were destined for Spain but instead crashed into the outer reefs and sandy bottoms creating hidden treasure waiting to be rediscovered. 
Modern history had forgotten about these shipwreck tragedies along this coast until a treasure hunter named Kip Wagner in the early 1960 wrote a book called Pieces of Eight describing his adventures rediscovering the 1715 Fleet that sank all along this coast and the subsequent reaping of millions of dollars of treasure for himself, a few friends and the state of Florida from the sunken fleet. 
Today, Wagner’s adventures and finds still motivate treasure hunters, researchers and archeologists alike to search for the remaining artifacts of known and unknown shipwrecks. Silver and gold coins and other treasure are still being found on these beaches and the adjacent ocean floor.  If you visit the Treasure Coast bring your metal detector. You might bring home a piece of Spanish colonial history with you.
For an armchair adventure of the trials and tribulations of shipwreck treasure hunting in the early 1960’s you must read “Pieces of Eight ” by Kip Wagner. He takes you from his first bout of treasure fever to the eventual successful recovery of millions of dollars of treasure and artifacts. Along the way he reveals to the reader the failures and the disappointments encountered and the amount of dedication, persistence, hard work, innovation, and ingenuity that was needed to succeed. Wagner included in his book many pictures of the treasure recovered from the 1715 fleet but if you want to see actual 1715 fleet treasure its on display at two museums in Sebastian, FL. At the McLarty Treasure Museum at Sebastian Inlet State Park actual 1715 fleet treasures and artifacts can be viewed for a mere one dollar per person entry fee. If you have time see the Arts and Entertainment production (The Queen’s Jewels and the 1715 Fleet) that is shown throughout the day at no addition cost to you. The museum itself occupies land once used as the survivors and salvaging camp for the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet and is a National Historical Landmark today. Metal detecting is allowed on its beach front if you can’t wait to try to find your own treasure but access to the beach is about a quarter of a mile away. If you want to see more actual 1715 fleet treasure or to buy an artifact from the 1715 fleet stop by the Mel Fisher's Treasures museum.
Mel Fisher passed away in 1998, but his family still operates the Mel Fisher's Treasures museum. Located at 1322 U.S. Highway One Sebastian, Fl  the museum  was founded by Mel Fisher to display some of the artifact from the 1715 fleet that his team discovered after he was invited in the early 1960’s to join the successful Kip Wagner team to search for the remaining 1715 fleet treasure. Besides the museum, the price of admission includes a short movie about Mel Fisher and admission to their gift shop. If you must have a coin from the 1715 fleet or from the Atocha they will sell you one but first you should try to find one yourself on the Treasure Coast.
Every year metal detecting treasure hunters make the Treasure Coast live up to its name by finding treasure on the its beaches. You might find some 1715 fleet artifacts to take home with you if you have time to metal detect for a few hours. To increase your chances, follow the directions given in “Shipwrecks Near Wabasso Beach” by Frogfoot Weller to find the specific beaches were gold and silver coins from the 1715 fleet have been found or detected. Detecting is allowed on most beaches all day long but most in water detecting is prohibited by law. While on vacation, one of my fellow metal detecting club members detected a gold coin from the 1715 fleet in December 2005 and his wife or son detected a silver coin called a four real on the same day. The chances of finding an artifact or coin from the 1715 fleet remains slim but you might be one of the lucky ones like my fellow club members were.

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