Amelia Research & Recovery, LLC
Florida's Fabulous Treasures
December 2003 - STUART, FL - The crew of the Polly-L is postponing its Treasure Coast salvage operation and heading to the Keys to hunt for Spanish gold. After causing a treasure hunting sensation on the Treasure Coast this fall, the crew of the Polly-L is heading south today to search for Spanish gold in the Keys.
Rough seas and tricky schedules caused the salvagers with Amelia Research and Recovery to postpone their work off Tiger Shores Beach, where a local surfer recently recalled a 25 year old sighting of a possible shipwreck.
So it's off for the winter to another wreck, just west of Key West. "That's our normal routine, to winter in the Keys," said John Popin, vice president of the treasure-seeking company. "We're itching to get going. We've just been sitting around."
Since the crew — and its four-story-high lift boat named the Polly-L — arrived on the Treasure Coast in September, there were only a few weeks when the seas were calm enough to perform the surveys needed to obtain a state permit for digging for artifacts and treasure.
Most of the time, the boat was stationed off Hutchinson Island, where researchers suspect the southernmost wreck from the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet is located.
Cold fronts whipped the seas into 8 to 10 foot waves, limiting the visibility needed for the final surveys. The crew had hoped to bring state divers aboard for an up-close meeting before permits were approved — but the weather and their schedules never matched, Popin said. "It's been so bad out there," he said. "We're going to put it off until the spring."
To make some money while killing time, the crew of the Polly-L even sailed up the Indian River Lagoon from its temporary spot south of the Ernest F. Lyons Bridge north to Fort Pierce to get a job fixing the discharge pipe at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant.
It turned out the lift boat wasn't certified for that kind of work. But everything remains "in line" for the state permit to begin excavation on the site off Tiger Shores Beach this spring, Popin said.
Meanwhile, the crew plans to work the site of the Santa Margarita, a Spanish treasure ship that wrecked off Key West in 1622. Popin said they plan to use the same equipment they used in Stuart — a magnetometer — to find objects under the sand.
"There hasn't been a modern survey there for 15 years, and we got some new information on hot spots," he said. "Still, we're looking forward to getting back down to Stuart."