Treasure Diving the Florida Keys

A Guide to Hawks Cay Resort and Vacation Villa Village in the Florida Keys  


 
 

Florida Keys Best

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Island Treasure - Past and Present in the Florida Keys

Found diving off Hawks Cay Resort in 10 feet of water, this silver "Pillar dollar" derives its name from columns or pillars shown either side of a shield. The pillars symbolize Gibraltar and the Pyrenees Mountains, the pillars of Spain. clear image for florida keys and duck key
Coin image from Florida Keys waters
 

A good selection of jewelry with coins, dolphins, conch shell themes, tropical and Duck Key themes, may be purchased at local jewelry stores in Marathon

Paradise Found - Residents of the island and visitors to Hawks Cay Resort quickly realize the treasure they've found upon arriving on Duck Key. One of the first recorded visitors to this area, William Gerard de Brahm, in a guide to mariners published in The Atlantic Pilot in 1772 described the waters off of Duck Key in words fit for paradise.

"Approaching Hawk Channel, the water gradually changes from the stream's deep blue to a beautiful sea green and at last into milk-white. The surroundings under the blue coloured water are a fine white marl with sponge, coral and tortoise-grass."

Most all would agree Duck Key is a treasure. A resort brochure describes Duck Key as a place of "swaying palms and landscaping reminiscent of a grand Caribbean plantation. An atmosphere as enticing as a soft breeze off the water. Once you've experienced Florida's Caribbean Island, you'll find that no other . . . spot will do."

Is there real buried Spanish treasure on Duck Key? In 1903 the island came into the possession of the Curry family. A letter appearing in the Key West Citizen on September 4, 1966, written by Kingman G. Curry states:

"Editor, The Citizen: Approximately 65 years ago my father, the late Charles J. Curry, was the owner of Duck Key, Florida, at which time my grandmother, Mrs. Charlotte Gould, my uncle Percy Gould, my mother and myself lived there. It was with great difficulty that he constructed a house at that place owing to the fact that everything shipped there from Key West had to be shipped in a sailing vessel . . . "

Hearing on the radio of a sunken treasure ship being discovered just off Duck Key by skin divers, Mr. Curry wrote further:

"All of this brought to mind . . . my father and uncle, it seemed to me, were forever digging on the land for hidden treasures, which according to a map they held, showed the location of this treasure as buried by a pirate. Too bad skin diving was not well known in those days as we might have discovered the treasure.

Well, such is life."

Diving for Treasure - The treasure which Curry had heard about was that of a Spanish ship possibly named Sueco de Arizon which went aground off Duck Key and Walker Keys in 1733. Fifty pounds of coins, worth about $30,000, including ten perfect pillar dollars were recovered by skin divers in 1964 in ten feet of water. In an account of the discovery one of the salvors wrote,

"Before long we were piling up coins on the bottom . . ." Early on the writer spotted two Pillar Dollars stuck together. A rare coin, the Pillar was the first round milled dollar ever made in the New World. All were lost with the destruction of 1733 fleet. "They were in mint condition; the date 1732 looked as if minted yesterday . . ." By noontime the divers had found the last coin and the treasure salvor reported " . . . a smile on everyone's face told it all. There would be enough treasure tales . . . . for years to come."

It is possible if you can find the location to free dive and observe the Spanish ship's egg-shaped ballast stones under which the treasure was found. On your return from diving should anyone ask, "Did you find treasure?" you can respond, "Absolutely, we found Florida's Caribbean Island in the Keys," a treasure even landlubbers will recognize as a vacation paradise.


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