San Francisco Shipwreck is maybe the prettiest of all the shipwrecks of the 1733 Fleet that sank off the Florida Keys
The San Francisco Shipwreck does not have a marker or any mooring buoys to mark the dive site. The depth of the water is nine feet. It’s located one and a half miles southeast of Long Key. It is NOT a Sanctuary Preservation Area. The GPS coordinates are 24'49.185N and 080'45.425W.
This vessel was a 265 ton English build merchant ship. Her owner was Don Cristobal de Urquijo. This man was unlucky enough to own two vessels that were put into service in the 1733 Plate Fleet. The name of his second ship was the San Ignacio. Urquijo was sailing aboard San Ignacio and drown during the 1733 Hurricane.
She took on a cargo of tobacco, chocolate, molasses, indigo, dye, citrus and silver coins in Vera Cruz. She was sailing near the rear of the fleet when the winds of the hurricane over took the fleet. All the ship’s captains were ordered to turn their ships and sail back to Cuba. The order came too late for most of the ships in the fleet. They were driven by the force of the winds onto and over the reefs of the Florida Keys. It carried her through the reefs and drove her into the sand in the shallow waters just off Cayo de Vibora, which is Long Key. Her hull was filled with water and most of her cargo was awash. All her crew made it safely to shore.
Salvage operations began soon after the storm. The Spanish were not able to salvage the general cargo but most of the registered silver and gold coins were recovered.
Today the San Francisco Shipwreck is reduced to large pile of round ballast stones with a few timbers exposed and a portion of the keel of the ship. The ballast stone pile is scattered southeast to northwest. With each passing storm she is buried deeper into the sand. This shipwreck has become home to a wide variety of marine plant and animal life. A large portion of the ballast stones have become encrusted with many varieties of corals. She’s home to schools of small colorful tropical fish, lobster, crabs, green and spotted moray eels, small grouper and schools of grunts.
This dive site is a great opportunity for anyone who’s just beginning to dive or snorkel. It gives the first time diver in the Florida Keys a chance to see a really old shipwreck. It’s also a beautiful site for pictures if you're into underwater photography.
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