Carol_Coin

Shipwreck

Stories

sinking ship

Inconveniently for mere mortals, serendipity is not concerned with time, so twists of fate often pass unknown, witnessed only by the sun, wind, and ripples on the sea... The saga of the Santa Margarita begins in 1622. Namesake of the patron saint of homeless people, midwives and reformed prostitutes, Santa Margarita was a Spanish galleon of 600 tons, armed with twenty-five cannon...

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On September 6, 1622, a violent tempest ripped through the Florida Straits, destroying no less than half a dozen vessels of the 28 ship Tierra Firme fleet. Among the fatalities were two of the richest Spanish galleons ever lost at sea, the legendary Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita...

“I saw a large piece of a ship’s mast from a vessel of at least 120 tons. I tried to haul it aboard but was not able to.” These evocative words, recorded by Christopher Columbus in his personal log on September 11, 1492, illustrate how fragile and uncertain was life at sea during the epoch of the great wooden sailing ships...

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Many people say that they experience their “a-ha” moments, or flashes of sudden insight, while in the shower. These people are very fortunate. When I am in the shower I typically think about how I need to clean the tiles. My insights occur at about 3:11 in the morning. With the rationale for doing so a complete mystery, I will suddenly sit bolt upright in bed, then stumble off in the dark to my office, bumping into walls and furniture, muttering about die-punches and assayer initials...

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Then I saw the things brought to the King from the new Land of Gold... all manner of wondrous weapons... all sorts of marvelous objects for the human use which are much more beautiful to behold than things spoken of in fairy tales... In all the days of my life I have seen nothing which so filled my heart with joy as these things. For I saw amongst them wondrous artful treasures, and I marveled over the subtle genius of those men in strange countries. Indeed I cannot tell enough of the things which I saw there before me...

When translated, the Chinese word Ming expresses brightness, luminosity, and illumination. Approximately four centuries ago, a merchant ship sank in more than 50 meters of water off of the Indonesian coast. Her cargo: thousands upon thousands of precious Chinese Ming Dynasty porcelain wares, crafted during the reign of the Wanli emperor, who ruled from 1572-1620 AD...

1. Motif

It is November—late hurricane season—and the wind has been an almost constant presence in the Florida Straits, whipping up whitecaps in these capricious waters where nearly 400 years ago, in 1622, the treasure galleon Santa Margarita sank, victim of a “storme and fearful tempest.”

 

Shortly after her destruction, one Captain Don Pedro de Aguilar y Guzmán wrote of the event, “…and also there was lost the galleon Santa Margarita in which {Captain} Don Bernardino de Lugo came … lost with all the silver, except that about twenty soldiers and the said Captain, who escaped swimming...”

 

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