Along the inner edge of Hawk Channel, washed by Channel Five that runs between Craig Key and Long Key, are the remains of the vice-flagship of the 1733 fleet. This 60-gun galleon, nicknamed “The Cock of the Indies,” was owned by the King of Spain and served as an armed almiranta, protecting the rear of the convoy. Her master was Don Bernadino de Maturana. When she grounded during the hurricane at Cayo de Viboras (present-day Long Key), her registered cargo included hundreds of boxes of silver coins and hundreds of copper ingots belonging to the King, as well as cochineal, indigo, vanilla, ceramics, and other New World cargos. As the galleon flooded with sea water, four people, including a child, perished in the event. Spanish documents indicate that Almiranta’s cargo holds were immediately accessible after the storm. Divers from salvage boats quickly recovered all of the registered silver, most of the copper and other cargos, including all of the ship’s fittings.
Situated in 14 feet of water on a hard bottom scoured by the tidal flow of the channels, a large pile of ballast stones, 140 feet long and 100 feet wide, mark the galleon’s grave. The river-worn rocks range from quite large examples of primary ballast, through medium-sized egg-shaped stones, to smaller pea-sized pebbles, which were used as filler ballast. In the central portion of the ballast mound, one can see the remains of the ship’s keel, eroded over the years by time and the sea. Other timbers are probably still buried under the ballast. Marine life at Almiranta is dense, varied, and colorful. Several kinds of hard and soft corals have populated the site for countless generations. Visitors to this marine oasis on the channel bottom can identify dozens of species of reef fish that have found shelter and sustenance at this unique location.
Location: 24° 48.633’N 80° 45.932’W