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  1. #1
    us
    Just another Guy In Back

    Feb 2007
    Left coast of Florida
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    Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Below is a page from a book I've been using for some associated research. It was a letter written in 1722 by a French traveller. He was making his way to Mobile after being shipwrecked and traveling up the west coast of Florida June 1722.

    From his descriptions he is obviously speaking of the Perdido River that separates Alabama and Florida. The Spanish shipwreck obviously occurred some years prior. I'm just curious at this stage, if anyone knows the name of the stricken vessel or the story that goes along with it.

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    • "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." A. J. Liebling

  2. #2

    Aug 2005
    Mobile Bay, Alabama
    430
    2 times

    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    He mentions Dauphine Island which was also known as Skeleton Island by the Spanish. He describes it as 5 leagues which is 15 nau miles with a fort at the western end. I have been all over Dauphin Island and as far as I know the only forts have been at the Shell mounds (central island) and the eastern end which has fresh water......curious.

    MichaelB
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  3. #3
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    St Rose is (santa rosa island)- the spanish name for the island--modern day pensicola bay is the area where he was talking about-- there a 2 wrecks talked about --the hercules "stuck" near the fort on Santa Rosa and the spanish vessel cast away "lost or sunk" in the river (might be upriver a bit or might be near the river mouth--area) Ivan p.s. ---remember the old spanish league was 2.6 miles --- the english league was 3 miles--later on the spanish "adopted" the english measure of 3 miles ----so if a measurement does not seem to "add" up correctly using the standard 3 mile league try using the "old" spanish 2.6 miles instead you might be very surprized at the "differance" --- Ivan

  4. #4
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    here are several pre 1722 possibles---

    (1) in 1553 spanish fleet "Armada de Tierra Firme"*--commanded by Capt. Bartolome Carreno --reportly lost some vessels from the fleet some are reportly wrecked near present day mobile -- fla panhandle area-(note this would be prior to them joining the main fleet in havana--making them west coast wrecks)--also there are notes in some 1554 spanish archive records stating that 3 vessels carrying treasure were lost at 26 degrees 30 min (near captiva island?) wrecked near Rio Plamas (palm or palms river?) it is worth noting that 26 degrees 30 min if looked up on the west coast is "right" on the edge ofthe "big pine" aquatic preserve area on captiva island and I see no close by river--also noted in other 1554 records are the following--a nao (ship) owned by Sr. Bolanos that was part of the "armada"* the "Santa Maria del Camino" was fully salvaged --- she might have been one of the three "lost" ships---the other two maybe "San Estevan"-- 220 tons ---capt francisco del mecerno or (mercesno) coming from mexico---and the "Sancta Maria de Ycair" --200 tons-- capt alonso ozosi --owned by miguel de jaurrequi ---this ship was also coming from mexico-- these two are as far as I know unaccounted for. if as I think the shipwrecks are east coast wrecks--then 26 degrees and 30 min would "place" them around the gulf stream golf course area --in gulf stream,fla alot depends on weither or not they joined up with the main fleet in havana before their loss (thus east coast) or sank in route to join up---(west coast) with the "river of plamas" thing ---I'm thinking east coast (we even call it the "palm coast" these days) on these 2 wrecks myself--however the other ones below are west coast wrecks for sure

    (2) 6 ships--1559--commanded by Don Tristan de Luna y Arelano lost due to hurricane near pensacola bay ---earlier in the year colonist were placed in the pensacola area by him but the hurricanes stopped the colony from being successful---the remaining survivors were removed in 1561 after nearly starving to death--they wound up eating their horse's and even the saddles for the horses as food---

    (3)--Santa Ana Maria Jumcal-- commanded by Capt General Marguis de Cadereyata---recorded in spanish records as going down at "cabo de Apalachi"* on june 2, 1611 with several million in treasure ---*traslates to mean "cape (or point) of Apalachi" the spanish often named areas after the "local" indain tribes located in those areas---note this very well could be off what today is known as "cape san blas" or may be in / around the modern day Aplachicola area

    good luck ---Ivan

  5. #5
    us
    Sep 2006
    Pensacola, Fl
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Great information....I may be able to shed some more light.

    First, the author mentions an inlet to the west of Pensacola Pass which is undoubtedly Perdido Pass that would naturally run southwest to northeast as the author mentioned but modern sea walls have prevented this. Many many years ago, Perdido Bay was simply referred to as Perdido River even though the mouth of this actual freshwater river lies 16 miles further up Perdido Bay from the inlet.

    While fishing most of my life in Perdido Bay, my grandfather would repeatedly tell me about a legend his father had told him. He said there was an old hermit who lived in a very remote part of Perdido Bay back in the early 1800's. Every morning for several years the old man was observed leaving his large waterfront cabin rowing his long boat up Perdido Bay to the same spot taking only ropes, grappling hooks, and finely meshed oyster rakes. Every evening the man and his boat would return weighted down much more so than when he left. The few people living in the area at that time (1850's) said the hermit only went to town on horseback every few weeks but never with any oysters to sell. This behavior went on for several more years until the old man drowned when his boat capsized during a violent thunderstorm. A local government official escorted the man's only son to his father's property to collect personal effects and to determine what he wanted to do with the property which at that time was very remote and inhospitable. When they entered the hermit's cabin, they were astonished to discover piles and piles of lavish furnishings such as silver sets, fine china, stoneware, and other oppulent wares that had no business being in a hermit's cabin. Allegedly, there were several crates of additional wares that appeared to have marine growth on them. Unfortunately, the son gathered up these items, auctioned the property, and returned to his home in Georgia with the loot his father presumably recovered. No mention of coinage or bars in the legend which I would have serious doubts about anyhow.

    Knowing how shallow Perdido Bay is, I know that whatever ship wrecked in there had to have a draft less than 12 feet to be practical. There were several key places along Perdido Bay and Perdido River that would have been likely reasons for a stores ship to be in there. One that comes to mind immediately was the old Spanish ferry that ran from present-day Blue Angel Millitary Recreation Facility (formerly NAS Bronson Field ) on the east shore to Suarez Point on the west shore which is then on Alabama soil. This ferry filled the gap on the very early Pensacola-Mobile road. There were also a few early logging operations up the actual Perdido River to retrieve Cyprus and Cedar timber which was very abundant at that time.

    Here is a Google Earth KML file with the points of interest:


    Also here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on Perdido Bay that refers to a famous Spanish map maker, Siguenza, getting lost in Perdido Bay but not wrecked:

    "In 1693 noted cartographer and scientist Don Carlos Siquenza was sent by the Spanish government to locate the entrance. Even after he located the mouth of the bay, he was still unable to find a waterway deep enough to sail through. According to legend Siquenza's ship had been blown off course as he was again searching for the pass into the deep inland waters. The ship was spotted by an Indian Chief camped with his tribe at Bear Point.As the chief was walking along the water he spotted Don Carlos Siquenza attempting to reef his sails and offered to guide Siquenza and his men to a connecting deep water channel from the Gulf of Mexico into the more tranquil bay.When the search party finally located the elusive bay they called it Perdido which in Spanish means lost or hidden."

    You can bet your last dollar I will be following up on this now that I have a side imaging sonar. I will certainly update on what, if anything, that I find.

    MichaelB....give me a holler and lets get on up there to check it out.

    Pcolaboy
    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #6
    us
    Just another Guy In Back

    Feb 2007
    Left coast of Florida
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    I've looked at the modern maps of the river. They have an 'old' river channel to the east of the present day inlet which may have shoaled over during a hurricane sometime past.

    I've not seen any old charts or maps of that era that show a different location for an entrance, but I'm still looking.

    The old hermit story may have some merit to it. Rumors and 'tales' generally seem to have some amount of truth to them, albeit minuscule sometimes. What do the local historians have to say about the naming of the bay?

    Quote Originally Posted by pcolaboy

    "In 1693 noted cartographer and scientist Don Carlos Siquenza was sent by the Spanish government to locate the entrance. Even after he located the mouth of the bay, he was still unable to find a waterway deep enough to sail through. According to legend Siquenza's ship had been blown off course as he was again searching for the pass into the deep inland waters. The ship was spotted by an Indian Chief camped with his tribe at Bear Point.As the chief was walking along the water he spotted Don Carlos Siquenza attempting to reef his sails and offered to guide Siquenza and his men to a connecting deep water channel from the Gulf of Mexico into the more tranquil bay.When the search party finally located the elusive bay they called it Perdido which in Spanish means lost or hidden."

    You can bet your last dollar I will be following up on this now that I have a side imaging sonar. I will certainly update on what, if anything, that I find.
    What I find interesting here is the differing accounts of how the 'lost' river got its name. It's casually mentioned in the original letter I posted as if very common knowledge, and not tough to navigate by. I suppose I'll have to start 'digging' up a little more on this area.

    Ivan, as always, I'm impressed by your knowledge base.
    • "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." A. J. Liebling

  7. #7
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
    callahan,fl
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    thanks ---I seem to remember reading somewhere there that the "lost" river is named that because of a lost ship and any the crew that survived the wreck were afterward wiped out by local indains--- not a very "freindly" bunch of indains to "strangers"----trying to sort out which ship it was ---the story I remember but where did I read it? ---as always so much info to sort thru----p.s. it was a rather bad area to navigate long ago because of these two reasons it was not a well liked area---- the first was the shallow waters (if a sudden "summer" storm should hit) while the ship was in the shallows it could be easily wrecked ---the second was because of very hostile local tribes who might kill off the crew if they shipwrecked---Ivan

  8. #8
    us
    Sep 2006
    Pensacola, Fl
    Minelab Explorer XS
    915
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    "Old River" as marked on present-day maps was the only navigable path to Perdido Bay from the inlet which coursed to the east and then back around to the northwest. With the average depth of Perdido Bay being around 10 feet, I still contend that whatever craft the Frenchman was referring must have been very shallow draft to even make it to the river at all. The river itself has some pretty deep channels but like I said, the path from the inlet to the river is very shallow. There have been several instances over recorded history where the inlet itself was impassable due to hurricane surges and the actual location of it varied by hundreds of yards. A good example of how this can happen can be found by looking at the current state of Phillips Inlet which is about 5 miles northwest of Panama City Beach ( 3015'57.50"N, 8559'29.28"W). My grandfather used to visit a fish camp there when he was a boy and there was a fully passable inlet there at that time, but as you will see on Google Earth, there's barely even a trickle making it to the Gulf now.

    With regard to Don Carlos Siguenza's expedition, he most certainly survived this incident and went on to produce several accurate charts of Pensacola, Escambia, Blackwater, and Choctawhatchee Bays among others. In fact, when the Presidio Santa Maria de Galve was established in 1698 at the present-day Pensacola Naval Air Station, the western tip of Santa Rosa Island was named Punta de Siguenza (Siguenza Point) where a small water battery was also established to defend Pensacola Pass. This is where Fort Pickens resides today.

    No matter what the circumstances, I can assure that no large craft would have made it into Perdido Bay with a draft greater than 10 feet. Therefore it could be deduced that whatever ship perished in the river or bay would have most likely been something like a fragata, or caravel class. I know the waters of Perdido River, Perdido Bay, Old River, and Wolf Bay like the back of my hand and to this day you have to be very mindfull of the depth in any given location. I'm going to get out there with my side imaging unit and try to find something in the likely places.

    Pcola

  9. #9
    us
    Sep 2006
    Pensacola, Fl
    Minelab Explorer XS
    915
    3 times

    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Quote Originally Posted by ivan salis
    here are several pre 1722 possibles---

    (1) in 1553 spanish fleet "Armada de Tierra Firme"*--commanded by Capt. Bartolome Carreno --reportly lost some vessels from the fleet some are reportly wrecked near present day mobile -- fla panhandle area-(note this would be prior to them joining the main fleet in havana--making them west coast wrecks)--also there are notes in some 1554 spanish archive records stating that 3 vessels carrying treasure were lost at 26 degrees 30 min (near captiva island?) wrecked near Rio Plamas (palm or palms river?) it is worth noting that 26 degrees 30 min if looked up on the west coast is "right" on the edge ofthe "big pine" aquatic preserve area on captiva island and I see no close by river--also noted in other 1554 records are the following--a nao (ship) owned by Sr. Bolanos that was part of the "armada"* the "Santa Maria del Camino" was fully salvaged --- she might have been one of the three "lost" ships---the other two maybe "San Estevan"-- 220 tons ---capt francisco del mecerno or (mercesno) coming from mexico---and the "Sancta Maria de Ycair" --200 tons-- capt alonso ozosi --owned by miguel de jaurrequi ---this ship was also coming from mexico-- these two are as far as I know unaccounted for. if as I think the shipwrecks are east coast wrecks--then 26 degrees and 30 min would "place" them around the gulf stream golf course area --in gulf stream,fla alot depends on weither or not they joined up with the main fleet in havana before their loss (thus east coast) or sank in route to join up---(west coast) with the "river of plamas" thing ---I'm thinking east coast (we even call it the "palm coast" these days) on these 2 wrecks myself--however the other ones below are west coast wrecks for sure

    (2) 6 ships--1559--commanded by Don Tristan de Luna y Arelano lost due to hurricane near pensacola bay ---earlier in the year colonist were placed in the pensacola area by him but the hurricanes stopped the colony from being successful---the remaining survivors were removed in 1561 after nearly starving to death--they wound up eating their horse's and even the saddles for the horses as food---

    (3)--Santa Ana Maria Jumcal-- commanded by Capt General Marguis de Cadereyata---recorded in spanish records as going down at "cabo de Apalachi"* on june 2, 1611 with several million in treasure ---*traslates to mean "cape (or point) of Apalachi" the spanish often named areas after the "local" indain tribes located in those areas---note this very well could be off what today is known as "cape san blas" or may be in / around the modern day Aplachicola area

    good luck ---Ivan
    I'm aware of these also and have a few things to add to each:

    (1) The Pensacola Bay area was recorded as first visited by Ponce de Leon on the last leg of his Florida Gulf Coast expedition in March of 1513. Later in 1516, Diego Miruelo developed a very crude map of Pensacola Bay with a few soundings and also showed a non-specific body of water to the northwest which could only be Perdido Bay. Pensacola was used as a watering port, especially during the hurricane prone months, prior to its first attempt of settlement by DeLuna in 1559. During these months, fleets leaving Veracruz for Havana often followed the coastline of Gulf northward, eastward, and finally southward. This certainly does make a good arguement for some of Carreno's ships being in this area.

    (2) There were actually seven ships that DeLuna lost, according to his own account, and were all lost in Pensacola Bay during that hurricane in September 1559. The Emmanuel Point shipwreck in Pensacola Bay, is one of those seven ships. It grounded and broke up in 14 feet of water during the storm. Here is a link to the UWF archaeology project for it: http://uwf.edu/anthropology/research/emanuel.cfm

    (3) I read about this in Steven Singer's book as well. I have heard it mentioned that Cabo de Apalachi (also variously spelled Apalachie, and Apalachee) was believed to be Cape St. George a few miles southeast of Cape San Blas. The Port St. Joe area did not have nearly the abundance of good fresh water as the Apalachicola, Panacea, Carabelle, and the St. Marks areas did. Indian Pass, on the northern side of St. Vincent Island and West Pass between St. Vincent and St. George Island are naturally deep inlets. Since there was not a Spanish mission in the area until 1633, I wander if this fleet was simply skirting the coast and were driven ashore during a storm or attempting to obtain safe harbor from a storm.

    Sorry for beating this topic to death but I'm obviously very 'invested' into it since this is my neck of the woods.

    Pcola

  10. #10
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
    callahan,fl
    delta 4000 / ace 250 - used BH and many others too
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    some of the vessels carried "smaller vessels" upon them---large flat bottomed shallow draft type mini vessels--often called scallops --- these flat bottom boats were often used to transfer stores and put on / take of cargo or lightering (removing cargo into the smaller vessel let the ship become shallower in draft---thus allowing it to more into shallower waters if needed to when the ship returned to deeper waters the cargo was reloaded upon the main vessel) as it was called or as a form of lifeboat in case of shipwrecks or for exploring inland areas---the vessel "lost" might have been one of those not the main vessel itself---Ivan

  11. #11
    us
    Just another Guy In Back

    Feb 2007
    Left coast of Florida
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Pcolaboy, I'm sending you some documents via PM that detail a little more concerning St. Joseph. You should find them interesting. They document some of the smaller vessels Ivan speaks of, and the history of the area. I've also seen some very interesting accounts of DeSoto and follow on expeditions into your area. It's turning into quite a story.

    Cheers
    • "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." A. J. Liebling

  12. #12
    us
    Sep 2006
    Pensacola, Fl
    Minelab Explorer XS
    915
    3 times

    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    GuyInBack....

    I just sent you an email from my home email address. That is very kind of you to send it to me.

    Pcolaboy

  13. #13
    us
    Just another Guy In Back

    Feb 2007
    Left coast of Florida
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    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Pcolaboy, documents on the way.

    Additionally, I've been looking at present day navigation charts of your area. Then I've compared them to one of Bernard Romans charts from the late 1700's. Here are the screen shots.

    I'm just guessing here but the river appears to have run directly out the east side. With a more direct flow, the channel could have been much deeper allowing the Spanish to become 'lost' up the river as stated in the earlier journal entry, whence the name for this place.

    Anyhow, a hurricane or 20 over the years shoaled over the eastern entrance. The water forced it's way out the western, or present day, entrance. In doing so the river shoaled up and became much shallower as due to the decreased flow and change in direction.

    I'm beginning to like the hermit story more and more...
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    • "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." A. J. Liebling

  14. #14
    us
    Sep 2006
    Pensacola, Fl
    Minelab Explorer XS
    915
    3 times

    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Thanks for the files Guy ! Hopefully the wife and kids will give me a chance to go through it :-)

    Like I mentioned before, the location of this inlet used to be highly variable. I took the wide angle map shot that you included above and overlayed it on Google Earth adjusting for compass deviation. Everything matched up fairly perfect in terms of upper Perdido Bay and Pensacola Bay. It appears as though the creator of the map took the liberty of squeezing in Mobile Bay out of scale. The change in inlet location is nearly 3/4 of a mile. The Frenchman mentioned in the article that the inlet ran from southwest to northeast which would seem to be similar to present day. I suspect that the sw-ne course is probably geographically preferred path, but when a hurricane blows through the island to the waterway I'm sure it takes decades for nature to resume its path of least resistance. Pretty awesome when you think about it.

    Man.... we may discover Atlantis if we keep this collective brain going!

    Here is another coastal survey from 1861 that shows a path similar to the present day course.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Keep 'em coming...and I'll do the same.

    Pcolaboy

    Quote Originally Posted by GuyInBack
    Pcolaboy, documents on the way.

    Additionally, I've been looking at present day navigation charts of your area. Then I've compared them to one of Bernard Romans charts from the late 1700's. Here are the screen shots.

    I'm just guessing here but the river appears to have run directly out the east side. With a more direct flow, the channel could have been much deeper allowing the Spanish to become 'lost' up the river as stated in the earlier journal entry, whence the name for this place.

    Anyhow, a hurricane or 20 over the years shoaled over the eastern entrance. The water forced it's way out the western, or present day, entrance. In doing so the river shoaled up and became much shallower as due to the decreased flow and change in direction.

    I'm beginning to like the hermit story more and more...

  15. #15
    us
    Sep 2006
    Pensacola, Fl
    Minelab Explorer XS
    915
    3 times

    Re: Perdido bay Shipwreck

    Here is some interesting data obtained from a study done by the Federal Minerals Management Service on the coastal erosion patterns in the area of Perdido Pass to give you and idea what the non-hurricane erosion rate is alone.

    "The net longshore sand transport rate for the Morgan Peninsula was determined bycomparing cells of erosion and accretion in the littoral zone (seaward to 6-m depth contour [NGVD])between Perdido Pass and Main Pass (Mobile Bay entrance) in a sediment budget formulation. Thenet transport rate for that portion of the study area was determined to be approximately 106,000m3/yr to the west . Net transport rates determined via sediment transport modeling ranged fromabout 50,000 to 150,000 m3/yr. These rates compare well and provide a measured level ofconfidence in wave and sediment transport modeling predictions relative to impacts associated withsand dredging from proposed borrow sites."

    How much is 106,000 cubic meters some may ask? Answer: Enough to fill an entire SuperWalmart to the ceiling or fill 10000 avergage sized dump trucks.

    This certainly lends credibility for the huge difference in location of the pass from the 1700's map you posted and the 1861 map that I posted.

    The direction of this movement is also evident at Pensacola Pass where Santa Rosa Island has 'grown' westward several hundred yards since Fort Pickens was built in the 1830's. In addition, the eastern end of Perdido Key ,which is on the west side of Pensacola Pass, eroded several hundred yards westward that eventually swallowed up Ft. McRee with the help of the 1906 and 1926 hurricanes.The spot where this fort once stood is underwater 'in' Pensacola Pass today.

    Pcola

 

 
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