5 Manila Galleons are known to have sunk off the west coast of the USA

Koko Ali'i

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SHIPWRECKS: MANILLA GALLEONS
Other explorers followed the Cabrillo expedition, including Pedro de Unameno who opened the Acapulco-Manila trade route between the Philippines and Mexico in 1565, allowing Spain to realize Columbus' dream of a new trade route with the Indies. The Manila galleon trade lasted until 1815 (Schurz,1939; Keistman, 1964; Hole and Heizer, 1973). Another expedition led by Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602 produced fairly accurate charts of the coast and harbors of Southern and Central California. The development by Spain of the Manila galleons in 1565, which transported Chinese porcelain, silk, ivory, spices, and other exotic goods from Asia to Spanish settlements in Mexico, resulted in the inclusion of the west coast into global trade (BOEM, 2013:188).
Between 1565 and 1815 Spain is reported to have owned 108 galleons. The Manila galleons were restricted by the Spanish Monarch to one or two ships/year and typically carried all the goods accumulated in the Philippines in a year's worth of trading silver, from the Mints in Peru and Mexico, with the Chinese and others, for spices, silk, gold and other expensive goods. The Manila galleons sailed annually from the Philippines bound for Acapulco. Convoys of two to five ships left Acapulco, Mexico, setting sail for the Spanish colony of Manila in the Philippines. On an average, three to five million silver pesos were shipped annually from Mexican mints to Manila, the “Queen of the Orient.” The sliver and gold was waggishly referred to as “silk money.” Silk stockings were prized by the fashionable Spanish gentry in Mexico and Spain. But the silver and gold bought other lavish exports as well. They came from all over the Far East: spices, Ming porcelain, opals, amethysts, pearls and jade. There were art treasures, ebony furniture, carved ivory and other exquisite rarities found only in China, Japan, India, Burma and Siam.
The sailing masters steered the galleons as near to 30 degrees north latitude as possible, often having to travel further north to find favorable winds. After the long trip across the Pacific, the ships turned south upon seeing the first indications of land and thus avoiding the uncharted hazards of the California coast (MMS, 1987). If all went well, the first land seen by the sailors would be the tip of the Baja peninsula. The ship then sailed to Acapulco.
The galleons, after a long and laborious return voyage eastward, often made landfall around Cape Mendocino, California, then sailed on to Acapulco. Once unloaded, the cargoes were transported overland by mule train to Veracruz and then taken by Spanish galleons to Seville, Spain. Five Manila Galleons are known to have sunk off the west coast of the United States. One, the San Agustin, sank in 1595, victim of a gale in Drakes Bay, northwest of San Francisco.
Many galleons never made it to safe harbor in Acapulco. Five Manila Galleons are known to have sunk off the west coast of the United States. One, the San Agustin, sank in 1595, victim of a gale in Drakes Bay, northwest of San Francisco. Others include:

  • San Agustin (Cermeño's vessel lost at Drake's Bay in 1595);
  • Capitana (unknown location, circa 1600);
  • Nuestra Señora de Ayuda (Catalina Island, circa 1641);
  • Francisco Xavier (Columbia River, Oregon, circa 1707)
Galleons also fell prey to pirates:

  • Sir Francis Drake

  • Thomas Cavendish (Santa Ana, off the tip of Baja, 1587)
Upon reaching the Gulf of California in October 1587 Cavendish and his two ships put in at an island above Mazatlan where they careened their ships to clean their bottoms and made general repairs. They had to dig wells for water. They sailed for Cape San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula and set up patrols to see if they could spot the Manila galleon. Early on 4 November 1587 one of Cavendish's lookouts spotted the 600 ton galleon manned with over 200 men. After a several hour chase the English ships overhauled the Santa Ana—which conveniently had no cannons on board, in order to carry the added cargo. After several hours of battle during which Cavendish used his cannon to fire ball and grape shot into the galleon while the Spanish tried to fight back with small arms, the Santa Ana, now starting to sink, finally struck her colours and surrendered. While burning, the Santa Ana drifted onto the coast where the Spanish survivors extinguished the flames, re-floated the ship and limped into Acapulco. Cavendesh was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I of England for his capture of the spoils.
  • George Compton (San Sebastian, aground on Catalina Island, 1754)
(Schurz,1939; Bancroft, 1886; Meighan and Heizer, 1952).
When Spain finally colonized California, all Spanish ships sailing along the California coast including the Manila galleons, were required to stop at Monterey. Schurz (1939) states that over 30 Manila galleons were lost over the 250 years of trade. A few were wrecked on the westward passage and others shortly after leaving Manila. At least a dozen remain unaccounted for. During the following period of Spanish rule, George Vancouver, an Englishman, explored much of the Pacific coast between 1791 and 1795, which was the last documented exploration of coastal California by ship.

[Manila Galleons]



VESSELISLANDWRECKED
Santa MartaSanta Catalina Island1582Crew and some cargo was saved.
San PedroSanta Catalina Island1598
Nuestra Señora de Auyda[west of Santa Catalina Island]1641Some crew survived. All cargo lost.
San SebastianSanta Catalina Island1754Run aground on Santa Catalina Island and sunk.
SOURCE: https://www.islapedia.com/index.php?title=SHIPWRECKS:_MANILLA_GALLEONS
 
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Koko Ali'i

Koko Ali'i

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Can any of the "Three Amigos" assist me with a cargo list(s)? Or maybe Amy?
 

Jason in Enid

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Might as well be wrecked on the moon. The water depths on the west coast drop drastically. Catalina is hundreds of feet deep just off shore, and 3000 feet between island and mainland.
 

cuzcosquirrel

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I remember people saying the Nehlem Oregon galleon seemed to be the 1700 galleon. There was a giant every 300 years mega quake that hit in 1700 that would have blown previous surf/beach debris all over the place, and it might have.

The San Augustin is pretty well know about, and I think the park service knows where it is. Beyond what is said about it, it was pretty much a typical nao that traveled sometimes in a group with a bigger frigate in the early years of the trade. Because Cermenho was at the mercy of what the Dasmarinas family was doing in Manila, he was made to trade over to a nao, and his ship the San Pedro was probably one of the two wrecked when Luis Dasmarinas sent an expedition over to Cambodia. He was given one of the regular naos to take back to Acapulco. They were in such dire straights to get a ship off, that it was packed with the most common types of things that these ships carried. There is a spot of wreckage down the coast that might be a part of the ship, or the Huachucha from the book two years before the mast. I would have to go and look at the debris, and date it which I have not thought about until lately.

It was pretty much a consensus here that the Global Explorer found one of the Cebu galleons, probably the 1600 one near Catalina Island and "explored it." I had a description from a guy that worked it that I heard when I was a kid, that he happened to talk about. You would have to trace the Global's path, and find out where they dropped the debris before they docked.

There is the galleon they talk about in Baja California, that I will just refer to as the "Ensenada Galleon" It seems it would be easy to find this one, but no one ever has.

All of these ship searches seemed to meet with abrupt ends, without finding much. Or maybe the people that get involved get as much adventure as they can take, and they stop. I never got out to the San Augustin site, and was pretty much discouraged from looking around for things after a couple of years.

It is said that when Cavendish took the Santa Ana, he threw a lot of stuff he couldn't carry overboard, right off the village there. There were three main things that they carried and that was silk pressed into bale bolletos, pottery in kegs or boxes better than what could be manufactured in New Spain, and whatever spices they could get from their contacts. Camphor, woven cottons, bezors, furniture, jewelry, swords, wax and sandalwood pieces were also carried.

Spain a lot of times leased these ships or bought them from the authorities in the ports. Governors like Dasmarinas and Tello in Manila were trying their hardest to get out expeditions to capture areas and have the privilege of running them for their lifetime as mini-kingdoms. Gomez Dasmarinas was killed on his galley by the rowers, and Luis was not able to take the Dutch possession of Terranate where cloves were grown, or support the adventurers in Cambodia, who were subsequently killed almost to a man at Seri Santhor.

One of the things I looked at was trying to understand why these projects are not undergone, even by the archies. There are thousands of mostly broken plates along the seabed from the San Augustin. Who is going to round them up and take care of them? These are not things that have a lot of locked-in value like a chest of coins. Wan Li plates are kind of iffy, and we don't even like China very much. From the Chinese point of view, that era was not well-liked, and it was something that happened a long way away to stuff they had already sold to Spanish merchants. They have plenty of stuff like that in their own country.

I'm sure there is some cooler things to be found at these sites, but it would just make a pile like the Girona's loot, and it would be looked at in a museum like the one there in Dublin. Whoever spends considerable time behind shark nets to get it out would have to spend a lot of money and time to conserve it and house it. I don't see California doing this, or the National Park Service. Why would they let someone come in and take stuff from a site they already own?

You can go on first dibs, ebay, or the cob sites, and if you are careful and know what you are looking at, you can buy an item that was carried and brought over on a successful voyage of one of these ships. You could pretty much get a room full of it if you wanted to have a museum, but no one ever has.

I figured out what I was looking at the other day, and one of the things I learned is that the galleon hold was loaded in a pattern of alternating stripes from front to rear, of chests of pottery, then probably foodstuff, ballast and other heavy merchandise. If you ever want to learn anything new, sometimes you've got to get out of the library.
 
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cuzcosquirrel

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It might be interesting to go over to Point Reyes and see what the state of affairs is like over there right now.
 

Mackaydon

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Not a problem to salvage off Catalina Island, assuming you get permission from several of these agencies:
1. Channel Island National Parks
2. California Coastal Commission
3. Environmental Protection Act regs.
4. California Dept. of Fish and Game
5. Marine Life Protection Act regs.
6. Channel Islands National Marine (and other sanctuaries) regs.
And lets not forget the representative of Spain who will insist that any treasure you find is theirs.
No doubt I may have omitted other agencies that would surely get their 'denial vote' into the procedures.
Other than those 'minor' hurdles, 'smooth sailing' you will find.
Don........
 

Crow

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Gidday Amigos

Some times even Academics get things not entirely correct. While the offical stance Manila Galleon trade ended in 1815 with the Magellan. Trade did not exactly just stop. Private small ships with the permission of the Vice Royalty still sailed with trade goods to Philippines and back. but not in the big Manllia galleons of old. But Smaller 19th century frigates. Some of them carried considerable sums of money in that 5 year period preceding Mexican Independence in 1821.

Crow
 
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Koko Ali'i

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Gidday Amigos

Some times even Academics get things not entirely correct. While the offical stance Manila Galleon trade ended in 1815 with the Magellan. Trade did not exactly just stop. Private small ships with the permission of the Vice Royalty still sailed with trade goods to Philippines and back. but not in the big Manllia galleons of old. But Smaller 19th century frigates. Some of them carried considerable sums of money in that 5 year period preceding Mexican Independence in 1821.

Crow
Ahhh, yes Crow.... That should go without saying. History is written by the victor, or by a group that can agree on what lies to tell. That is a fact.
I was saving frigates for another adventure story. Still active on one of those frigates, so it will be a while... Many were lost [or made unusual stops] and documented.

Cheers
 

Red_desert

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Somebody took a piece of bees wax from the beach wreck site to PBS History Detectives. They found a document in the Archives of France and had it translated. The names and ship cargo list of 2 galleons mentioned. It is believed now, the Bees Wax wreck is actually 2 of the Manila galleons. They also contacted a member of the search and research team, that collected all the pottery pieces along the shoreline.
 

Red_desert

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A diver on this forum, did some dive drops on the area also.
 
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Red_desert

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There was a non-profit, did a considerable amount of mag survey, along with side scan sonar on one of the wrecks. Don't remember name of galleon, but they ran out of funds, soon after locating a shipwreck lodged up against the side of a rocky cliff.
I had a photo from top of that cliff looking down (can't seem to find it now). I was told a story about Indians claiming a tsunami once hit the area,
 
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Red_desert

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Crow

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Can any of the "Three Amigos" assist me with a cargo list(s)? Or maybe Amy?
Gidday Amigo

Sorry unable a cargo manifests for Manilla Galleons.

However in Mexico There are records of a ship after 1815. With an mind boggling manifest totaling over 2 million dollars 1818 prices.

See the 1818 Mexican gold escudo coin below. It sold in 2020 for 1885.00 USD for the coin plus add auction fee cost totaling 2135.00 USD.

1417732-5748725-003rb.jpg


Now amigo x that by 500 boxes of 1000 gold escudo coins. Melt value alone is 1368.80 USD per coin alone ......

Plus 1500000 1818 silver dollars. Average sale price 143 USD.

YYTYY.jpg


Not counting value plate and jewellery.

My guess even when technically in this case there is a legal loophole in regards to UNESCO agreement in Historic shipwrecks. Governments and Agencies of various countries still have deep pockets to fight tooth and nail to get their claws on it. They will mask their greed with virtue signaling of course. Squabble over it like the very pirates who captured it in 1818.

So yes amigos there are still many valuable treasure out there.

Crow
 
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