Friday, July 20, 2018

Nuestra Señora de Atocha Downed Sep. 6, 1622, Discovered July 20, 1985

Summary: The dates Sep. 6, 1622, and July 20, 1985, represent the destruction and the discovery of the hurricane-sunk, reef-struck Nuestra Señora de Atocha.

Rick Brutti ‏@Rbrutti via Twitter July 20, 2016

A shipwreck-hunting underwater enthusiast answered the question July 20, 1985, of the whereabouts of Nuestra Señora de Atocha after the 17th-century treasure-laden galleon shipwrecked Sep. 6, 1622, off the modern-day Florida Keys.
The discovery brought to an end 16 years of searching and began the salvage stage of bearing precious metals and stones up from the sea floor. The two-year-old rear-guard ship in a 28-vessel royal colonialist fleet carried arms and cannons; crew, infantrymen, officers and passengers; indigo and tobacco; precious metals and stones. Five survivors described a destructive two-day storm due to Atocha's delayed departure directly into the Caribbean Sea's and western Atlantic Ocean's hurricane season beginning every July.
Mel Fisher (Aug. 21, 1922-Dec. 19, 1998) extracted through 20th-century experience and expertise the expensive, extensive cargo that eluded the 60-year efforts of 17th-century shipwreck salvagers.

Two sailors and three slaves flocked around the lateen-rigged mizzenmast to the 550-ton, 112-foot- (34.14-meter-) long galleon with a 14-foot (4.27-meter) draft and 34-foot (10.36-meter) beam.
Salvagers never got to the 125 gold bars and discs, 582 copper ingots, 180,000 silver peso coins and 24 tons of silver bullion as 1,038 ingots. The cargo hold's barred doors held so the salvagers headed back to the modern-day Cuban port of Havana, Atocha's building site in 1620, for heavier equipment. A hurricane Oct. 5, 1622, impeded investigation of the shipwreck site and its immediate area in spite of exact information inscribed into the initial salvagers' inventories.
The first hurricane jutted Atocha just above 55-foot- (16.76-meter-) deep waters 70 miles (60.83 nautical miles) off Florida near Marquesas whereas the second jumbled everything below.

The Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain, keeps Atocha's register and records on the maiden voyage in 1620, and the second in 1622, from Havana.
Atocha left Spain with two fleets March 23, 1622, with a repaired mainmast broken during the maiden voyage from Havana, for Dominica Island and the Americas. The Nueva España ("New Spain") and Tierra Firme ("Mainland") fleets yearly, 1561-1748, moved supplies from Cádiz and crops, gold and silver from Colombia, Mexico and Panama. Nueva España's crew navigated to Veracruz, Mexico, and the Tierra Firme to Portobelo, Panama, and Cartagena, Colombia, to Havana, the Gulf Stream off southern Florida and Cádiz.
Atocha obtained May 24-July 22, 1622, Lima- and Potosí-mined treasures by mule train from Panama City and July-August gold and Cartagena- and Bogotá-mined first-year rare silver.

Tierra Firme proceeded to Havana late in August and, in single file with Nueva España, Sep. 4, 1622, toward Dry Tortugas and the Gulf of Mexico.
Two-day storms quashed Atocha, Nuestra Señora de la Consolación, Nuestra Señora de la Merced, Nuestra Señora de los Reyes, Nuestra Señora del Rosario and Santa Margarita. Salvagers recovered Rosario's shallow-water cargo in September 1622 and some of Santa Margarita's in 1626, with Mel Fisher's Treasure Salvors retrieving the rest May 12, 1980. Precious metals, 20 bronze cannons, 350 indigo-filled chests, 525 tobacco bales, 1,200 pounds of worked silverware and wave-battered, wind-shredded masts, rigging, sails and tiller sank Atocha.
Nuestra Señora de Atocha tributed in name Madrid's holiest shrine, in seaworthiness Havana shipbuilders and in treasure goldsmiths of a Muzo emerald-encrusted Tucker's Cross-like gold icon.

Muzo Official ‏@muzo_official via Twitter June 27, 2016

My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
On July 20, 1985, American treasure hunter Mel Fisher's 16-year search for treasure-laden Nuestra Señora de Atocha switched from search to recovery with discovery of the shipwreck, downed by a hurricane Sept. 6, 1622, between the Florida Keys' Marquesas Keys and Dry Tortugas: Rick Brutti ‏@Rbrutti via Twitter July 20, 2016: Rick Brutti ‏@Rbrutti via Twitter July 20, 2016, @
Mel Fisher's recoveries included a 22-carat yellow gold and Muzo emerald cross, retrieved from the hull of the sunken Nuestra Señora de Atocha: Muzo emeralds, which serve as the world's standard for highest quality emeralds, are New World emeralds, mined in Muzo, modern-day Western Boyacá Province, central Colombia: Muzo Official ‏@muzo_official via Twitter June 27, 2016, @

For further information:
"Atocha: Quest for Treasure." National Geographic Channel, 2010.
Lyon, Eugene. Search for the Motherlode of the Atocha. Hobe Sound FL: Florida Classics Library, 1989.
Lyon, Eugene. The Search for the Atocha. Hobe Sound FL: Florida Classics Library, 1985.
Mathewson, R. Duncan III. Treasure of the Atocha: A Four Hundred Million Dollar Archaeological Adventure. New York City NY: Pisces Books, E.P. Dutton, 1986.
Muzo Official ‏@muzo_official. "The 'Atocha Cross' is the most prized of all artifacts from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha shipwreck. #Muzo #emeralds." Twitter. June 27, 2016.
Available @
"Nuestra Señora de Atocha, Santa Margarita: Spanish Galleons of 1622." Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society & Historical Museum > Historical Exhibits > 1622 Fleet > Overview.
Available @
Rick Brutti ‏@Rbrutti. "Nuestra Senora de Atocha which sank in 1622 was found 31 years ago today with $400 million." Twitter. July 20, 2016.
Available @
Smith, Jedwin. Fatal Treasure: Greed and Death, Emeralds and Gold, and the Obsessive Search for the Legendary Ghost Galleon Atocha. Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
Tedesco, Carol. Treasure Coins of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita. Key West FL: SeaStory Press, 2010.
"Treasure! The Search for the Atocha." History Channel, 2005.

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