1733 Spanish Galleon Trail: Explore the Spanish Plate Fleet disaster of 1733.


Off Islamorada, where Snake Creek flows into Hawk Channel, lies the wrecksite of the 220 3/8 -ton, Genoese-built freighter, Nuestra SeƱora del Carmen, San Antonio de Padua y las Animas, called Chaves after her owner, Don Antonio de Chaves. As one of the smaller vessels in the 1733 fleet, Chaves carried no registered treasure when she ran aground in shallow water during the hurricane. Fortunately her hull remained watertight. Crew and passengers were saved, and most of the cargo and supplies were taken to the salvage camp of Capitana on Upper Matecumbe Key. Although the ship's hull was intact and masts and rigging serviceable, the vessel could not be refloated because of the shallow depth of water where she grounded. Instead, after being salvaged and stripped Chaves was burned to the waterline.

The wrecksite of Chaves is well known to local divers and charter captains. Due to its closeness to shore and immunity to rough sea conditions, this small shipwreck is visited often. Today, the remains of Chaves are only partially visible above the sandy sediments, with a random scatter of ballast stones amidst thick grass beds on white sand in 8 feet of clear water. Starfish, sponges, sea slugs, wrasses, small corals, jellyfish, lobsters, and sea urchins inhabit the area.

Location: 24° 56.179'N 80° 34.985'W

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