Off Lower Matecumbe Key in 15 feet of water, the wrecksite of San Felipe lies in a sandy depression surrounded by sea grass. Built in England, the 486-ton merchant vessel had several nicknames: El Terri, El Tyrri, and Therry, reflecting her owner Guillermo Terry, the Marques of Canada. Since Terry's family shipped sherry between Spain and England, San Felipe probably was a sherry freighter before joining the fleet of Rodrigo de Torres to the Indies. Her captain for the voyage was Don José del Villar y Andrade. She was loaded in Vera Cruz with silver, cochineal, indigo, chocolate, molasses, citrus relish, tobacco, and gifts. Sailing near the center of the flota, San Felipe was pushed by hurricane winds toward the island. Her hull filled with water and she sank in shallow water at the inner edge of Hawk Channel not far from San Pedro. All of her crew and passengers were saved. Documents suggest that most of the cargo and supplies were salvaged from the ship.
Today, the wrecksite of El Terri consists of a relatively intact mound of cemented ballast stones covering the lower hull of the ship. The artificial reef supports a vibrant ecosystem including a variety of corals, sponges, and other marine life such as groupers, snappers, grunts, eels, lobsters, barracuda, blennies, wrasses, scorpionfish, tangs, damselfish, hermit crabs, spotted and green moray eels, angelfish, and hogfish. Visitors will find that this site is one of the more densely populated of the 1733 fleet shipwrecks, and an excellent location for snorkeling when seas are calm and clear.
Location: 24° 50.761'N 80° 42.850'W