​​Amelia Research & Recovery, LLC

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Sinclair Educational Archaeological Research Expeditions, Inc.


Santa Margarita 1622 - 2002 Expedition

he story of the Santa Margarita closely follows that of the Atocha, indeed they were sister ships in the same fleet, the Margarita was Spanish built in Vizcaya. She met her fate on the same day the Atocha, September 6th 1622at the mercy of a raging hurricane. Whereas submerged hulk of the Atocha remained fairly intact until the second hurricane three weeks later, the Margarita  broke apart in the first hurricane - dispersing her broken sections in a number of deposits along a fairly definite line.
In 1980 Mel Fishers company Treasure Salvors Inc. found a section of the wreckage and recovered many beautiful and historically important items.

Since that time their have been a number of discoveries that have helped to formulate a new theory of the breakup of the
Margarita. In 1982 during the search for the Nuestra Senora de Atocha four galleon size anchors were located in an area that we now know is west of the Atocha's primary cultural deposit (the area where she first sank). So they could not be associated with the Atocha. However, the primary deposit of the Atocha had yet to be found so there were many conjectures. Before these anchors were recovered and conservation carried out on them,  location data was of course recorded. Of great significance was the fact that these anchors had been set. The direction of the shank would become vitally important in the current expedition. All of the anchors were set indicating an 11 degree heading for the ship that they were associated with. By following this line we run straight over the section of the Margarita found by the Mel Fisher Salvage group in 1980.  In all there are fourteen anchors that are now associated with this site, some (the grappling style anchor) were quite obviously part of the salvage operations.

By re-examining the archival documents and with the accumulation of the evidence that had been recovered from the site over a period of two decades we have been able to come to certain conclusions. We know from the remains of the Margarita found in 1980 that the hull structure was not a part of the lower hull. In fact Navel historian and architect William Muir concluded that the section that we had found was a section of the stern castle. Certainly the wealth in unregistered gold in the form of chains bespoke the private possessions of the  very wealthy. The cannon ball conglomerate and the presence of a bronze cannon argue for at least some of the upper decking including a part of the gun deck to have been associated with this area.

However, we also know that only a few pieces of what would be considered the bulk cargo were found these included a couple of silver bars and 1/2 chest of silver coins. Dr. Eugene Lyon has done exhaustive research on this fleet including the Santa Margarita, according to his estimates from what we recovered in the 1980's and what the Spanish salvaged in the 1620's, there is still a substantial amount of intrinsically valuable cargo unaccounted for.

We know that the Spanish salvors were having difficulty in there recovery efforts as the years passed the difficulty only increased. Of particular interest and one of the most recent pieces of evidence that we are getting closer to locating the remains of the lowere hull structure along with all of the associated material was the location of an anchor which appears to have only one fluke which was purpose wrapped in ancient chain.
In the archival documents we read that Fansisco Nunez Melian, the main salvor of the Margarita is complaining of the presence of so many enemy ships (Dutch) hampering his efforts at salvaging the Margarita and relocating the Almirante (Atocha); in the document he says that the bouy he had left chained to the site was not able to be relocated. We feel that we may just have located the weight for that bouy and that hopefully the primary area will be close by.


The advent of GPS (Global Positioning System), DGPS (which uses a land beacon to increase the accuracy) and now WAAS (a system of satellites that have the accuracy of DGPS but are not dependant on the land beacon) have changed the way that we map these highly dispersed shipwreck sites. The group that has done the majority of the investigations on the Margarita site is
Amelia Research and Recovery Group,Inc. , there unique vessel the Polly-L is a new generation in vessels that can investigate shallow water shipwrecks, for more complete information on their company simply click on their name in red!

The Polly-L is a real innovation in shallow water shipwreck investigation. This platform is able to position itself in 5ft, of water and can stay on station in weather that would send most conventional vessels to port. With six cabins for crew and guests, a full galley and the stability of a condominium it is truly a unique and comfortable way to work! Please click on the link above to view more about Amelia Research and Recovery and their ongoing operations.