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TOPIC: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay

San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 4 months ago #7089

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San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay

A researcher says he knows exactly where the galleon San Agustín — possibly laden with silver, gold and other treasures — sank in Drakes Bay more than 400 years ago.

It was the ill-fated arrival in 1595 of Portuguese explorer Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeño in the bay that piqued the interest of Brian Kelleher, a San Jose environmental engineer who dabbles in lost ships.

By painstakingly translating the galleon's log, Kelleher believes he knows the precise location of the ship: It's buried along the shore of the bay under layers of sand. Kelleher believes much of the galleon could be salvaged.

"My belief is the wreck is very much intact because it went into the sand in one piece," he said. "The crew was able to salvage some of the lighter items, but the heavier chests and barrels were too heavy to get off."

There is a possibility that there are items of value in those chests and barrels buried deep under the West Marin sands.

"There was no register, but there is a good possibility this is a very valuable wreck," Kelleher said. "These were the wealthiest merchants in the Philippines at the time who sponsored this trip."

Cermeño and an 80-member crew left the Philippines in July 1595 aboard the San Agustín. After a four-month Pacific crossing, Cermeño reached California and anchored his vessel at Drakes Bay to reprovision and assemble a small launch for coastal exploration. Cermeño's

crew interacted with the Coast Miwok population for more than a month during this stopover, according to the National Park Service.

But during the stopover the Agustín was bludgeoned by a fierce November storm and was pushed ashore and wrecked, and its cargo was abandoned.

The two-ton galleon was owned by Philippine merchants who cut a deal with the Spanish crown to explore what now is the West Coast. In return, they could carry merchandise and sell it in Mexico, Kelleher said. Kelleher previously authored "Drakes Bay, Unraveling California's Great Maritime Mystery," which asserts that Sir Francis Drake landed in Sonoma County and not Marin County. He also is writing a book about the San Agustín.

The San Agustín has been the subject of expeditions before, most recently in 1997 when the National Park Service looked for the wreck, but ultimately came up empty. The park service manages the land at Drakes Beach.

Kelleher said that that attempt was "miles and miles" away from the actual location of the San Agustín. Previous attempts to find the galleon were based on a translation of the ship's log done in the 1920s. While that work was laudable, the transcription made from Spanish was not spot on and had enough minor mistakes to present a different location of the wreck to subsequent researchers, Kelleher said.

Kelleher was able to find and re-transcribe the log word by word at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. The result is what he believes is a new and accurate site where the San Agustín ran aground.

Park service officials had not seen Kelleher's work, but said they were open to looking at his research.

"We will look at what he has and we will have researchers in the field review it as well," said Gordon White, chief of cultural resources with the Point Reyes National Seashore, which includes Drakes Bay. "We appreciate his energy and interest in this."

The San Agustín is of particular interest because it was the first time that European explorers interacted with native people of the West Coast, the Coast Miwok. It also marked the first recorded shipwreck on the West Coast.

The park service's National Historic Landmarks board is considering establishing the Drakes Bay Historic and Archaeological District in part because of the significance of the San Agustín wreck, even though it has yet to be found.

"It would afford the area a higher level of preservation and precludes any kind of salvage for profit," White said of the district designation.

Courtesy Chico Enterprise Record
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 4 months ago #7094

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"The park service's National Historic Landmarks board is considering establishing the Drakes Bay Historic and Archaeological District in part because of the significance of the San Agustín wreck, even though it has yet to be found."

"It would afford the area a higher level of preservation and precludes any kind of salvage for profit," White said of the district designation"

Sound familiar? Does it ever end?
Aquanut
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 4 months ago #7095

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And if treasure hunters in Florida had not stood up and had their voices heard, this is the same crap that the Florida DHR would have been pulling on us this summer.
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 4 months ago #7104

  • Salvor6
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Brian Kelleher spends years re-transcribing the log book and finds out exactly where the San Augustin is located. Now the park service wants it all. Thats what happened to Ivan Salis in Florida.
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 4 months ago #7111

yeper, sounds like whitefeather knows what he is talking about. If you find something good someone will always the there to try to take it away so just keep your mouth shut, and keep on hunting.
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To bag a bug in total darkness . . . . is just the next step.
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 4 months ago #7115

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B) They aren't going to stop until they make it against the law for us to detect anywhere. Declaring an area as historic or historically sensitive is how they can keep us out. That and "environmentally sensitive", "Endangered species Habitat" and the like will prohibit any detecting, digging, building or even searching. As soon as someone even thinks we may be on the verge of a discovery that may have some monitary reward we will be banned. I have never been challenged hunting a field where plow blades, tractor parts and junk are the finds of the day. But, if one ring, coin or anything of value is turned up the vultures will show up to pirate it away from you. I found a ring some years ago that fetched a very tidy sum. I would never think of sharing the location or value with anyone other than a few very close friends but I will say I was run off after someone suspected that I had found something. I did take my wife on a two month vacation to the Caribbean a few weeks later. Today I would do the same thing, FIND IT, SELL IT AND KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT! That way no one will have any interest in what I found or did not find. Underwater is a good way to hunt. It's away from prying eyes and is less likely to attract much attention as long as you don't make a big fuss over it. Small is better! If you see a large recovery ship sitting in the same place for a week or two it attracts lookers. A small boat with a few people with lots of fishing gear and dive gear is less like a treasure hunter and more like a bunch of guys fishing and drinking beer. We have to start thinking small. Anyone want to trade me a smaller boat for my monster Cat hulled ship? :laugh: :lol: This image is hidden for guests. Please log in or register to see it. This image is hidden for guests. Please log in or register to see it.
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Last Edit: 2 years 4 months ago by WhiteFeather.
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 3 months ago #7172

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Hi there, I've never been to this site before, but I was following a link about the story of the San Agustin and ended up here and decided to register. I would say I'm a "newbie" but I'm not even that. I'm a wannabe. I love reading about sunken treasure, people who look for it and have found it, watching programs about it, etc.

This seems like a tight community so I don't want to barge in. But the story about Drake's Bay made me extremely curious (partly because it seemed to leave so many unanswered questions.) If anyone would care to comment on my questions that would be awesome. I'm just throwing them out there out of sheer irrepressible curiosity.

What I'm wondering is if this guy tells the government he knows where the wreck is do they have any legal obligation to pay him a finder's fee? If not, is it typical for them to do so? Now that he told them he thinks he knows where it is can they force him to tell them? Like if he decides he'd rather risk never being able to get it himself than give everything away to Florida for free can they compel him?

Wasn't there just a case where someone recovered a massive fortune from a ship that belonged to Spain at the time of the Armada and after he did all the work Spain demanded all of it be turned over to them?
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 3 months ago #7225

  • Cornelius
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The San Augustin was wrecked west of the Drake Estero . No captain would anchor his ship between the shore and the outflow of a river . With a storm coming up he would be trapped . The shore line has changed quite a bit since the ship was anchored there . The ship may be further out from the reaond shore line . The indian shore garbage pits are containing a lot of articles from the ship such as iron rods that were keeping the planking together . This shows that the ship was destructed by waves and storms . The indians gathered all these articles . A lot of porcelain was also dicovered on shore in those pits . So if someone thinks he has discovered the wreck I would say good luck buddy . There was no gold on board , just some wax , as was on board the Nehalem wreck . . I have worked the wrecksite and there was nothing there left over from the San Augustin . Exept ofcourse the articles found in the pits on shore . . Cornelius
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 2 months ago #7750

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White Feather you dont need to get rid of your large houseboat.You just need to modify it.Just put in a moon pool and you can treasure hunt all you want and no one will see any divers going over the sides.Just park it over a site and have lots of friends fishing and partying to make it look like a pleasure boat.
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Re: San Jose man says ship is beneath sand at Drakes Bay 2 years 2 months ago #7755

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If the ship wrecked, how did anyone salvage the log book? Who saved it and how did it get to the Bancroft Library? Even if the Park Service claims it, can't Spain or Portugal also still make claims on the cargo? Does anyone what Portuguese Salvage Law is like?
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