El Infante is a shipwreck from the 1733 Silver Plate Fleet that’s on the bottom of the ocean in the Florida Keys
El Infante does not have any marker
or mooring buoys to mark the dive site. The depth of the water here is 20'. It’s located about 150' southeast of Little Conch
Reef. This is NOT a Sanctuary Preservation Area. The GPS coordinates are 24'56.556N and 080'28.531W.
On Friday, July 13, 1733 the Silver Plate Fleet left Havana harbor taking their treasure home to King Philip V of Spain. Her cargo of brazilwood, cochineal, Guadalajara ware, Chinese Porcelain, leather hides, indigo, vanilla, citrus and 186 crates of silver pesos were loaded at Vera Cruz. There were four Spanish Galleons in the Silver Plate Fleet. She was one of the largest. She was armed with 60 cannons.
Warnings of a hurricane reached the fleet too late. Only five of the 22 ships made it out of the hurricane. Four sailed safely back to Cuba and one sailed on to Spain without any damage. The other 17 were driven onto the jagged reefs of the Florida Keys.
The hurricane lurched the Galleon broadside to the winds and waves. The crew was ordered to chop the mast and bowsprit loose from the ship to keep her from rolling over in the storm. She struck the reef. Holes were torn thru the hull. She flooded up to her deck. The next day her crew could see five other ships from the fleet grounded on the reef. The crew constructed a makeshift raft and made it to shore. Salvage efforts began immediately with help from the local native Indians. Almost all of the silver pesos and cargo were saved.
The ship lay hidden until the 1950's. Much of the ship was still intact and visible from the surface of the water in those years. She was once again salvaged and many silver coins and artifacts were found.
Today the El Infante is a spectacular dive site. The great visibility adds to the beauty of this site. Her ballast stones are scattered in a circular pattern over a very large area of the ocean floor. The shipwreck is located in the middle. Timbers from the hull are exposed as well as a section of the keel, timbers of the frame and a few stringers.
Rumors have it that coral encrusted coins are still being found. So bring your underwater metal detector or something to dig away the sand so you can find your won buried treasure while diving this shipwreck in the Florida Keys.
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