Special Presentation III


Sunday, 15 August 2010 was one of those days, one of those 'boring' days in Florida when the wind lays the ocean down near the Treasure Coast, and the sea is an aqua blue. Bonnie Schubert and her Mom, Jo, were back in the water after some heavy maintenance on their new salvage boat, "GOLD HAWG" ... and then they found it!

At first thought by most to be an eagle, and by some a turkey, the solid gold bird is preliminarily identified by Historian Dr. Eugene Lyon as a " Pelican in Piety"-- representing the legend of the 'mother pelican' wounding her breast to feed her young on the droplets of her own blood and used as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice.

Standing a stately 5-1/2 inches tall, the avian relic weighs 177 grams --that's without her right wing-- and she tests out at 22 karats of pure gold. In her heyday, her open torso held something, probably something ritualistic, possibly an incense container.

Through a hole in the center of her base, she may have been mounted to a pole ... or to an altar. We'll have to wait for the jury to come in with all the details on this wondrous piece.

The ornate base of this statuette, on which the bird is standing, resembles a turban and displays what could be a 'Fleur-de-Lis' on the face of it.

+Update: "Historic Note" below indicates the Base is a nest. Must be "feathered" in the  mind of the sculptor. 31 AUG 2010.

+Update: Margaret Weller has seen painting or engraving with this (type) statuette mounted to a staff or pole! (Incense burner?)

"It was just Mom and me aboard the 'Gold Hawg' (C-11, Harold’s old number – for luck!) – I still am in shock. Didn’t think we were even going to make it out there this year, what with engine rebuild and etc."

"One wing is missing, and I have been out three days searching for it – no luck there and now our fingers are crossed that we get in a few more days ... but it looks like the tropics are firing up." --Bonnie and Jo, 25 AUG 2010.

<<Push here for historic note on bird.

Special Presentation II 

The Not-so-Successful but Lots-of-Fun 2007 Sadwin Family Vero Beach
Treasure Hunting Expedition

by Alan Sadwin

Alan and Sandy Sadwin live on Long Island, NY. They are avid beachcombers, defying the elements at times to sweep the south shore beaches near their home to find “buried treasure.” We salvagers have a saying that they recently came to adhere to: “No sense diving where there ain’t no shipwreck!”

The title of this article may give away the results of this trip (no emeralds, gold doubloons, or pieces of eight), but read on to hear about the wonderful 4-1/2 days Sandy and I spent at Vero Beach, Florida. After all, metal detecting should be fun, even if you don’t always find buried treasure.

It has been a few years since Sandy and I tried our hand at metal detecting on Florida’s Treasure Coast, and we started planning this trip in January. Our “treasure map” was the excellent Shipwrecks Near Wabasso Beach book by Bob “Frogfoot” Weller and Ernie “Seascribe” Richards, which lists 14 shipwrecks along the Treasure Coast. The book includes a brief history of each wreck and what treasure has been found, and it includes directions on how to find each wreck site. The directions include the distances to each wreck from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, which happens to be where we were staying. It is required reading and daily reference for anybody planning a treasure hunting trip to Vero Beach.

We had hoped to arrive just after a major storm when there is a better chance for finding Spanish treasure. We managed to arrive in Florida just as Hurricane Noel was passing offshore on Thursday, 1 November and drove down from Orlando through sporadic downpours. After checking in, we headed straight to the beach. Unfortunately, we could only take one detector on that first day, as some dummy (me) had managed to pack his detector powered on and had drained the battery.

We decided to start at the Turtle Trail beach access which is the site of the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de la Regla, the capitana of the 1715 Fleet and one of the galleons which held a large amount of treasure. This is the location most people recommend for treasure hunting when in Vero, as gold, silver, and artifacts have all been found there. The surf was up and there was some erosion, but the locals who were checking out the beach when we arrived decided not to detect that day. One of the reasons is that the erosion was to sand that had been brought in to reclaim the beach after a hurricane passed through Vero a few years ago. We were told that the original beach was buried below 5 to 8 feet of new sand. The rain was torrential at times and we kept our DFX dry under a rain coat. The tide seemed to be higher than we expected, but we weren’t sure why. After 3-1/2 hours, we had found one quarter and called it a day.

Friday was sunny and the surf and wind were still up. According to the Salt Water Tides table I printed just before we left, low tide in Vero was about 1:00 PM so we slept until 7:00, ate breakfast and headed to the beach about 10:00 AM. It was a sunny day, but the surf remained very high. Our first stop Friday was just south of Sebastian Inlet and is a site identified as the “Pines Wreck” by Kip Wagner, one of the original Treasure Coast hunters. We decided not to hunt this site as it is on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. While the locals claim that detecting is allowed there, we felt that it was too close to the end of the turtle hatching season (31 October) to take a chance. We had noted that some turtles were still hatching, as evidenced by broken egg shells.

We then moved south to the Ambersands Parking and Beach Access and detected to the north until just before the McLarty Treasure Museum.


The Disney Vero Beach Resort  at County Road 510 and U.S. Highway A1A. Its ocean view covers the wreck sites of three ships: The "Admiral" of the Honduran Fleet of 1618; a treasure-laden galleon of  the 1715 Spanish silver fleet; and a British collier of 1825. Grab your detector, and hit the beach! The resort is "Ground Zero" for directions to the wrecks in our "best selling" book mentioned by the Sadwins.


Looking north along the cutaway dune this evening, you expect to find the surf full of pieces-of-eight and other treasures when you swing your detector in the morning...

On the way we passed Kip Wagner’s cabin. Kip used to walk this very beach and skip flat rocks across the water. He later discovered that those flat rocks were, in fact, Spanish pieces of eight, and the era of treasure hunting in Florida began. I skipped a few rocks in Kip’s honor, but only after verifying that they weren’t Spanish silver. After 3-1/2 hours, we called it a day. The tide was still much higher than we expected and, in talking to a fellow detectorist (not a local), we determined that the tide charts we were using were way off and that low tide was actually at about 8:30 AM.

We then went shopping in Vero at our favorite book store. Unfortunately, we already had every treasure hunting book that they stocked. When we returned to the hotel, we used a hotel handout to confirm that low tide was in fact in the morning. That chart was also from Salt Water Tides. We still haven’t figured out why the drastic difference, but I am working the issue.

Saturday, low tide was at 9:30 AM and we were sure to be on the beach at 8:00 AM. It was easy because we just walked out of the hotel and onto the beach. The shipwreck of interest was the San Martín, the almiranta of the 1618 Honduran Fleet. 3-1/2 hours later we had a handful of modern change. Most coins were US clad coinage dated before 1994. There was even one “wheatie.” We did see a couple of detectorists who were not local. One was carrying a 2-foot long piece of 4” x 4” wood that looked to have been underwater for quite a long time. Of even more interest was the polished copper or bronze tack that was attached to it. Personally, I suspect it was a piece of a shipwreck and not a recent one at that. 

Saturday afternoon, we went to the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum in Sebastian, Florida, where we saw many artifacts from both the 1715 Fleet and the Atocha. We also saw an emerald from the Muzo area of Columbia that a beachcomer had found on March 15, 2007. It is 69.32 carats and is a cube about ¾ inch per side. This stone was found in an area between the Treasure Shores beach access and the Golden Sands beach access. Treasure Shores is also the site of the “Cannon Wreck.” We decided to try our luck there on Sunday. Saturday night we ate in Sebastian at a restaurant called Squid Lips. Should you go to Vero, try this place. The band on Saturday was excellent as were the sea scallops wrapped in Cajun bacon.

"Sandy" Sadwin carefully investigates a "hit" from her detector on Wabasso Beach, scoop by scoop so as not to miss a bit of treasure. She and Alan get lots of time on their machines at local beaches on Long Island. You know, where Captain Kidd used to hang out and is rumored to have buried some swag!! But the Florida Treasure Coast was not in the mood to release her treasures this day...

Sunday was our last day of metal detecting and we made the most of it. We were out 6 hours, but the result was the same. No gold, silver, or emeralds. We did meet a beachcomer who used to live in Freeport, NY. He showed us some fossilized shark teeth he had found on the beach and gave Sandy a few.

Monday the detectors were all cleaned and stowed, but we went back to Treasure Shores to try our luck at shark tooth hunting. Finally our luck changed and we each found a fossilized shark tooth. They had to be from a shark the size of a large minnow, but who cares? We actually found something. 

We ended our Vero Beach visit with a trip to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, where we learned that most of the wreck sites that we detected north of the Disney Resort are, in fact, within the boundaries of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.

We are already planning another visit, but may go in March when the locals say the hunting is better. --Alan

Special Presentation I

Part of the 1715 Salvage Fleet sits at a dock in the Indian River in Ft. Pierce.

Foreground: "Royal  Eight" ─ Captain Bonnie Schubert. Behind it, the "Endeavor."

All are shipshape and ready to go to work on the next favorable day...

The first of the fleet departs through the inlet this day...

Bonnie says, "A fine summer morning ─ flat calm, a golden path, the sun like an 8 escudo & heading out the inlet!"

No excuse! Away all boats, away!!

The "Endeavor" ─Captain John Brandon─ cruises by, heading south to his  "fishing hole."

Bonnie says, "Endeavor  off to Douglass Beach. A very rare shot ─ we were  up before John!"

Later in the day, the "Virgalona" ─ Mike Perna Captain─ heads back to the docks through Ft. Pierce Inlet.

Recently sold by Mo Molinar, the "Virge" has been a real workhorse for many seasons after moving here from years on the ATOCHA sites.
Bonnie Schubert is not a newcomer to the Treasure Coast, but she is the new (recent) head of the "Royal Eight" salvage operation here. Bonnie learned how to find and salvage treasure the "right" way from veteran Harold Holden. Bonnie's mom, Jo, was Harold's longtime companion, and Jo is now "crew" on Harold's former boat and sites. Harold, Bonnie notes, "is still in good health and his sister says he seems settled in and content" in his new life at a retirement home. We all eventually have to throw out the anchor! The "Royal Eight" recovered no treasure in 2007, but she's in great condition and ... there's always next year. That's the old treasure salvage spirit!          PHOTOS by Bonnie

EN RADA Publications 
P. O. Box 1698 
West Palm Beach, FL 33402-1698 
e-mail Ernie Richards at: