Spanish Fleet/Navigation Question
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  1. #1
    us
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    Spanish Fleet/Navigation Question

    I understand the general route up the East Coast of Florida that Spanish ships took on their way back to Spain, but at what point did they actually turn east to cross the Atlantic? Was there a general landmark they referenced?

  2. #2

    Apr 2012
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    I would imagine cape canaveral..it was a good reference point and thats when the gulfstream start to head NW pretty good, then at the outerbanks they turned due east and headed toward spain..but it all depending on time of year whether it was further north or further south.
    Havent found any documents stating an exact point though. I think they all just kinda knew when to turn haha

  3. #3
    us
    Oct 2010
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    I asked the same question on this forum some months ago and never got a satisfactory answer. I have been doing a little research, however, and have found that the normal course of action was for ships returning to Spain to pass Cape Canaveral and to head east WHENEVER THEY PICKED UP THE TRADE WINDS. It becomes really simple, when you think about it. They wanted to clear Cape Canaveral to avoid the possibility of running into the Bahama shoals, but had no 'set' turning point once north of it. It would depend on the season and the vicissitudes of weather. This sets up the possibility of Spanish wrecks occuring all the way up the eastern seaboard at least as far north as Cape Romain. I would call particular attention to King Phillip II's vigorous attempt to establish the Spanish colony of Santa Elena (present day Parris Island, SC). It existed from 1566 to 1587 and was only abandoned after the Spanish consolidated their resources in La Florida following the sacking of St. Augustine by Drake. It is known that both St. Augustine and Santa Elena were founded, at least partially, as bases for treasure fleet salvage operations. Port Royal Sound, SC, is also one of the finest natural refuge harbors on the entire eastern seaboard. The French explorer Jean Ribaut had previously founded the short lived colony of Charlesfort on Parris Island in 1562, at least partially with the idea of it becoming a base for French corsairs. There is a little known treasure tale in this, involving the French, Native Americans and Spanish shipwreck treasure. I believe it very likely that Spainsh ships routinely travelled up the east coast much farther north than most people assume. I would wager a good deal of money (if I had any, LOL) that there are Spanish wrecks waiting to be found on the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.
    Last edited by hobbit; Apr 14, 2012 at 12:41 AM.

  4. #4

    Feb 2007
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    Hobbit:
    What you need to do is consult one of half a dozen good "derroteros" that were the mariners "road atlas" of the times, used by all sea captains. There were two routes, one for winter that was shorter in distance, more south,and one for summer that went farther north but was quicker, close to 28 to 30 days.
    During the winter months, they would go up to between 28 to 29 degees which is between Cape Canaveral and Saint Agustin (which is at 30 degrees). "From there you would head east for Bermuda which is at 33 degrees, passing said island on the north side many times without recognizing her but because of the bad weather and rain that usually are there, you understand you are close" In summer they would go up to 32 degrees (which is in the Georgia-South Carolina border) and then head east, climing up till 38 or 39 degrees.
    You should check:
    Derrotero de las Indias Antillas y de las costas orientales de America, desde el Rio del Amazonas hasta el Cabo Hatteras. Parte primera los cayos de la Florida desde las Tortuguillas al Cabo Canaveral y las islas Bermudas. by Sanchez de Toca.
    My personal favorite is by Alonso Barrozo, Derrotero de las Indias Occidentales. (1689)

    Panfilo
    Last edited by Panfilo; Apr 13, 2012 at 11:15 PM.

  5. #5
    us
    May 2011
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    Great stuff guys!

  6. #6
    us
    Oct 2010
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    Thanks for the tip, Panfilo, great info. I will stick with my bet, though. You will no doubt notice I said Georgia and South Carolina. I was not bold enough to go farther North. Perhaps I should have made the qualification: "16th and early 17th century Spanish wrecks" in my wager, as well. Are you familiar with a document called the Chaves-Rutter? It dates from 1537...
    Last edited by hobbit; Apr 14, 2012 at 12:06 AM.

  7. #7
    us
    Sep 2004
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    Bigscoop I think Hobbit and Panfilo have answered you question.
    The only thing I would like to add is as Panfilo said there are winter
    And summer rout What's not been said is the fleet tried to stay in the
    Gulf Stream to get the push that it gives. For you to see this in today’s
    Real world look on line for some World currents charts and you will see
    Both Oceans work the same. Have you read about the Japanese wave that wash
    All the buildings ,ships and junk out to sea, off shore Japan? It’s now showing up
    off the North West coast of the U S and Canada and it wil head South to Mexico.
    This is all happen in the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean work’s the same.
    By the way the Spanish sailed from Manila in the Philippines to Acapulco Mexico
    To do this they went to Japan and across with currents and came down the
    North West of what is now the US. They did this because of currents and winds.
    It took more than 100 years for them to find these currents and use them.
    This all sound easy but we must remember Weather was the unknown killer.
    Now with a few key strokes you can see the whole world’s oceans charted.
    Last edited by WRECKFINDER; Apr 14, 2012 at 10:44 PM.
    WRECKFINDER

  8. #8
    us
    manaloneblog.wordpress.com

    Jun 2010
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    An older blue Excal with connector, remote, Skullie headphones, and various coils. Got rid of the rest of my machines.
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    Thanks fellas! My main reason for asking was that stretch between Canaveral and Daytona. So in general, both the summer and winter winter routes would have brought them along this stretch, but I assume, probably much further out?

    Sorry, got interrupted by a phone call.......

    Again, I'm also assuming returning Fleet ships arrived back home days apart, or even weeks apart depending on speed, weather, etc.?
    Last edited by bigscoop; Apr 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM.

  9. #9
    us
    Oct 2010
    302
    106 times
    Remember, if you see reference to a wreck occuring in the waters of "La Florida" during colonial times, it really isn't telling you much. "La Florida" was any part of North America outside of New Spain. That is a really big chunk of real estate...

    As far as the sailing route being "much farther out" in regards to the area between Canaveral and Daytona, a hurricane approaching from the south would have made Florida a lee shore with all that that entails.
    Last edited by hobbit; Apr 14, 2012 at 12:08 PM.
    bigscoop likes this.

  10. #10
    us
    manaloneblog.wordpress.com

    Jun 2010
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    An older blue Excal with connector, remote, Skullie headphones, and various coils. Got rid of the rest of my machines.
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    Yep, understand the "La Florida" thing. This is what I'm curious about.......

    Ships depart for Spain, say a fleet, many of these ships are smaller, lighter, some are faster and some are much slower. Somewhere in the Bahama Channel they encounter a vicious storm "from the south" and they become even more scattered. The known 1715 wrecks are south of Canaveral, but wouldn't it be very possible for some of the remaining ships to have made it past Canaveral, perhaps if only limping along after the storm? Or, would the outreaching Cape and reefs have made that pretty much impossible/unlikely? Seems the cape is cluttered with wrecks, so why so few listings north of it? Seems to me that once you compile all the know accounts, there simply has to be a fair amount of Spanish wrecks north of the Cape? But records don't actually support that. Curious.
    Last edited by bigscoop; Apr 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM.

  11. #11
    us
    Sep 2004
    JUPITER FLORIDA
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    Spanish sailing off shore to miss Cape Canaveral

    To miss running aground on cape canaveral the spanish sailed way off shore. In my mind that put them over 7 mile off shore or more.
    Out in deep water. seven mile is what you can see on a clear day with the curve of the earth. They also did sounding to tell them
    where they were. Also you were asking about other ship in the 1715 fleet that could be north, there have been searchs as for north
    as Fernandina Beach and a far south as Lighthouse point at Hillsboro inlet.Deep water search is where I love to work. good luck!
    WRECKFINDER

  12. #12
    mx
    Nov 2011
    147
    70 times
    none
    Bigscoop,

    If you pull the historic nautical charts you'll see lines that designated the sailing routes. That doesn't mean that the plate fleets necessarily followed them exactly and they didn't skirt the coast and then head east. The only reason that they are found along the East Coast is because they were driven there during the hurricanes. I used to work with a diver named Scotio who dove for Mel Fisher. He was a wealth of information.

  13. #13
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
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    most ships if they cleared the cape --made it back to spain * however some did not * off of modern day jacksonville florida about where the st marys river is where many turned eastward -- its currenly the t florida / ga border river ( lots of old sailing vessels loved to" top off" their water supplies before heading out to sea for the long voyage home because the tannic acid waters of the tea colored st marys river was naturally acidic and thus was much less likely to grow algie in the watyer kegs -it stays fresher and safe to drink longer) - the reason rum was used so much was to disinfect the water to make it safely drinkible ) -- so the area off of fernandina is where a lot of spanish vessels turned eastward during certain months of the year after topping off their water supplies) -- georgia was for a peroid of time a sort of "buffer zone" - (no mans land) between english south carolina and spanish florida--however over time it became more "english" than spanish in nature from the scottish runaways that often moved there -- being that the english and spanish were constantly at one anothers throats and could go to war at the drop of a hat -- most spanish captians tried to avoid sailing into waters known to be infested with englishmen and "pirates" (often one in the same)--the georgia and south carolinas waters were just such waters --so where florida run out --often they turned east to go back to spain --plus the gulf stream turns eastward off the area.
    Last edited by ivan salis; Apr 15, 2012 at 08:01 AM.

  14. #14
    us
    Oct 2010
    302
    106 times
    Here is just one example, taken from "The Spanish Borderlands", by Bolton:

    "The slow-moving treasure fleets from Mexico and Havana sailed past Florida through the Bahama Channel, which Ponce de León had discovered, and on to the Azores and Spain. The channel was not only the favorite hunting place of pirates — so that the Spanish treasure ships no longer dared go singly but now combined for protection; it was also the home of storms. The fury of its winds had already driven too many vessels laden with gold upon the Florida coast, where as yet there were no ports of succor. Cargoes had thus been wholly lost, and sailors and passengers murdered by the savages. To these dangers was added the fear that the French designed to plant a colony on the Florida coast near the channel, so that they might seize Spanish vessels in case of war, for not one could pass without their seeing it. So, on Philip's order, Viceroy Velasco bestirred himself to raise colony, not only for Coosa but for some other point in Florida. The other point selected was Santa Elena, now Port Royal, South Carolina."

    In fact, Santa Elena was made the capital of La Florida.

    South Carolina and Georgia did not become "infested" with English until well into the 18th Century. The first English settlement in South Carolina was not until 1670. During the "War of Jenkins' Ear", 1739-1748 (I am not making the name up!), The Spanish captured Ft. St. Simons, Ga with a fleet of 36 ships. They also burned the fledgling Scottish settlement at what is now Beaufort, SC. In fact, English trade from South Carolina was brought to a virtual standstill during this period by the presence of Spanish privateers who openly anchored in Port Royal and St. Helena Sounds. There are many references to this in a very early English newspaper called The South Carolina Gazette. The Spanish actively opposed English Colonial efforts in SC until the 1740's. Two other reasons Spanish vessels would have chosen to sail into the waters of Georgia and South Carolina: information and control. The Spanish Crown craved both. And of course, there is the Gulf Stream. There are seasonal variations, but it flows NE from the Georgia/Florida border. Coupled with the fact that the South Carolina coast also runs NE, following the stream would put ships off the coast of SC for a considerable distance. A bold Admiral in a hurry might ride it all the way past Cape Hatteras...
    Last edited by hobbit; Apr 17, 2012 at 06:39 AM.

 

 

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