Since publishing “Surfing Treasure’s Wake” a number of people have asked me about whether or not Isabella Rojas actually existed. Well, she didn’t. She’s merely a figment of my vivid imagination. However, the San Miguel, the Spanish galleon from which she and her six children were washed overboard, does.
The hurricane of 1715, which some scholars consider to be the actual beginning of the era of the pirates of the Caribbean, sank the San Miguel along with her sister ship, the Ciero and nine others.
This armada was sailing from Havana back to Spain with literally tons of stolen gold from the natives. After the hurricane, wreckage and debris was strewn along the eastern coast of Florida, which lured all kinds of scavengers and lead to the pirates as we know them today. Why wait for a hurricane when you can sail right up and steal all the gold yourself!
Here on Amelia Island, which sits just off the coast of northeast Florida, about thirty miles from Jacksonville, is the home of Amelia Research, the treasure hunting company I write about in “Surfing Treasure’s Wake” as well as “The Cardinal Pirate.”
Amelia Research has been actively searching the south end of Amelia Island for the San Miguel, as well as periodically heading down to the keys to help in the search for the Santa Margarita, sister ship to the Atocha, which was found and made famous by Mel Fisher.
Amelia Research has created, designed and built a very unique vessel for their hunts, the Polly L. I describe this vessel in “Surfing Treasure’s Wake” as follows:
So, he (Marc) sat on the beach and wondered about the strange looking ship that he saw anchored twenty yards off shore. It was also ten feet above the water line, having been raised up on her three elevation posts that are attached to either side of her bow and behind her stern. Marc read the name to himself, the Polly L. Over her flat-bottomed blue hull were a series of ever decreasing white boxes. A yellow boom stood situated on her bow, so it could be used to raise and lower her small powered skiff. Marc wondered what this strange looking craft could be used for.
This is a very unique craft, flat-bottomed so that she can easily enter the shallows and with her three telephone pole-looking support posts, can easily be raised above the surf thereby ensuring a stable platform while the crew searches the depths for the lost riches from the past.
They do this by first sending out the Polly L’s skiff and dragging a magnetometer behind, scan the ocean floor searching for magnetic fields, which are captured and stored on the ship’s laptop computer along with the GPS coordinates of each target.
Once back on board the Polly L, the readings are analyzed and those that look promising, usually a trail or cluster of targets, are investigated. The captain moves the Polly L from target to target and while over each, the crew lowers a heavy rectangular box, using the ship’s onboard crane, which contains twin turbo fans. The fans blow away all the sand and sediment creating a hole about sixty feet wide and thirty feet deep. Then once the water’s clear, divers go down, each equipped with a hand-held metal detector called an Aqua Pulse. The divers enter the newly blown hole and scan every inch hoping to find the lost treasure.
To date, the Polly L has recovered all kinds of artifacts, everything from deck guns and cannon to everyday items including cooking pots and mini furnaces. They’ve even found a number of precious stones, doubloons, and jewelry. But they still haven’t found the big one.
Likewise, in “Surfing Treasure’s Wake” I talk about a buried suitcase filled with cash and jewelry located behind an old farm house, in Casa Grande, Arizona. Well, this too is supposed to exist.
As I write about in my novel, the couple that occupied that farm house had a terrible ending. The husband actually did murder his wife and then took his own life. But not before the wife buried that suitcase containing all their valuables. I guess she was on her way out and wanted a little something to begin again. But I’m speculating.
I know an old Mexican man who lives in Case Grande and who devoutly believes in spirits. He swears that he’s seen her ghost wondering around the premises. I was able to get this story from his son, a good friend whom I‘ve actually gone with to look for this suitcase.
The events I describe in “Surfing Treasure’s Wake” about the main characters entering onto this property in order to search for that suitcase are all taken from the few times I’ve actually been there. Yes, there’s a couple of old mangy guard dogs, which quickly become your best friend once bribed with chicken or steak. And yes, behind that old house is a junk yard of old rusting vehicles of every description. I even give the address of that house. How’s that!
Today this area is used as a storage and maintenance facility for the farm that surrounds the old farm house. So I wouldn’t advise trying to trespass, especially during harvesting time when the operation is going all day and all night.
Someday soon I hope to return to Casa Grande and continue my search for that suitcase. I know, good luck. But that’s what they said about Mel Fisher too.
To see a picture of the Polly L, view the cover of my next novel “The Cardinal Pirate” or visit Amelia Research’s webpage at ameliaresearch.com. You can also visit my page on Authorsden.com or visit my page listed with this article. In the meantime, happy treasure hunting!