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San Pedro and the 1733 Treasure Fleet

San Pedro and the 1733 Treasure Fleet

Authored By William DePaula

San Pedro Church

When driving down the Keys, you might notice a Catholic church on Plantation Key. The Church is just south of Plantation Key School on the bayside, MM 89.5. In the center entrance of the church you will see St. Peter, the fisherman on a boat. Saint Peter stands watching over US1, welcoming us to the parish with his Spanish given name, San Pedro. San Pedro Catholic church was first dedicated in 1955. 

The Treasure Fleets

The Spanish empire would collect the treasures from around the new world and they would meet up in Havana. Once all the treasure was gathered, a fleet of ships would leave Havana harbor and begin the long trip back to Spain. Most of the time the fleets would make it back home to Spain, no problem. The 1733 Treasure Fleet wasn't so lucky. 

The 1733 Fleet

The fleet left on Friday the 13th in the month of July. The fleet was commanded by Don Rodrigo de Torres. The fleet was filled with spices, hides, jewels, silver and gold. A hurricane stuck while the 1733 Fleet was near what we now call the Florida Keys. 

Art McKee

While some of the treasure was recovered by the Spanish after the Hurricane, it wasn't until centuries later in 1937 that the real salvaging began.  Professional Diver Art McKee salvaged the treasures from the 1733 fleet and built a museum in 1949 to share his finds.  This museum was the first museum in the world devoted to shipwrecks.


The San Pedro

One of the ships from the 1733 fleet that wrecked was named the San Pedro.  The San Pedro was a 287-ton Dutch ship. When the ship left it was carrying 16,000 pesos in Mexican silver and crates of porcelain. The San Pedro was found in Hawk's Channel in 18 feet of water, approximately 1.25 nautical miles south of Indian Key. Today the San Pedro is part of the Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The Spanish ships where tall and needed some weight on the bottom so the ship would float and not turn over and sink. The "weights" used to keep the ships floating are known as ballast stones. Some of the ballast stones of the San Pedro where used to build the bins at the main entrance of the San Pedro Catholic Church.



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