Nuestra Senora de las Angustias Shipwreck is one of the least known shipwrecks from the 1733 Fleet that sank in the Florida Keys
Angustias shipwreck doesn’t have any markers or mooring buoys to mark the dive site. The depth of the water is 14'. It’s located about 1500' off the Long Key Bridge in Long Key Channel. This is NOT a Sanctuary Preservation Area. The GPS coordinates are 24'47.455N and 80'51.738W.
She was a 329 ton merchant ship. She carried four cannons. Her owner was Jose Sanchez de Madrid the father to the captain of the ship Don Francisco Sanchez Madrid.
The ship was loaded with a cargo of Chinese porcelain, indigo, dyes, Mexican silver pesos and general cargo in Vera Cruz, Mexico. The fleet left Havana harbor on Friday, September 13, 1733 for the return home to Spain from the New World. She was sailing near the Almiranta and Sueco de Arizon near the rear of the fleet. On Saturday the winds switch to the east the skies grew darker and the rain was blowing sideways. The captains were ordered to turn and run for Cuba. It was too late. The hurricane was on them.
Waves were crashing over the bow of the ship. The ship lurched forward, the topsail snapped. It fell crashing into the mainsail where it was now tangled. The ship rolled onto its side. Cargo and supplies were washed overboard by the waves. The heavy cannons slipped out of their chocks, thru the hull of the ship and onto the ocean floor. The crew quickly chopped the main and mizzen mast away from the ship to keep her from sinking. She was driven thru the reefs that parallel the islands of the Florida Keys and into the shallow waters off Cayo de Viboras, which is called Long Key today. They were aground and the decks were awash. The crew and passengers all made it safely to dry land on Long Key. Most of the treasure and cargo were salvaged from the ship.
The crew constructed a make shift camp where they waited for the Spanish ships to sail from Havana to rescue the cargo, treasure and people who were stranded by the storm. While they waited one of the passengers, Joseph Ignacio de Toca Velasco wrote a 60 page poem about the 1733 hurricane. He not only wrote about the grounding of the Angustias, he wrote a complete tale about all the other ships that were battered by the storm. He told of how the passengers and crew were struggling to stay onboard the ships as they pitched and rolled in the storm. He wrote of how they made rafts to get the people, cargo and treasure to the islands of the Florida Keys. Lastly he wrote of how miserable it was because of the heat, the lack of food and water and the swarms of mosquitos that tormented them day and night as they waited for the rescuers. His poem was published in Madrid in 1734.
Today the Angustias shipwreck is a very large ballast stone pile. It covers an area of more than 6,000 square feet. There’s a section of the keel still visible near the center of the ballast stone pile. Large coral heads, colorful sponges, soft corals and purple sea fans populate this dive site. This attracts an abundance of marine life.
If you plan to dive this shipwreck while in the Florida Keys you’ll need to plan your dive to go at slack tide. This dive site is in Long Key Channel and you’ll have a strong current and poor visibility to deal with. The slack tide at high tide will give you the best visibility. Be safe and enjoy your dive.
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