In 1715, the Spanish galleon San Miguel is caught in a hurricane. Isabella Rojas and her six children desperately pray to God as black water rushes across the wooden decks. She binds each child to a knotted rope before being swept overboard. Each child drowns, their weight finally pulling Isabella beneath the stormy seas where they rest, waiting to be released from their watery graves. Over 200 years later, sixteen-year-old Marc encounters the ghost of Isabella while surfing. Along with Sponge Bob, a retired treasure hunter, they try to solve Isabella’s legend. Then a tragic loss forces Marc to face his reality, as he discovers the secret treasure that he’s been searching for all along
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Surfing Treasure's Wake
In 1715, the Spanish galleon the San Miguel is caught in a hurricane off the south end of Amelia island. Black water washes across the deck as crew members lash themselves to whatever they can. Isabella Rojas and her six children desperately pray for safety. She bounds herself and each of her children to a single rope before being washed overboard. Each child drowns, their weight finally pulling Isabella under the stormy seas where they rest, waiting to be released from their watery graves.
Marc, the main character and a surfer, is sixteen years old. He and his mother, Lisa, have recently moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida, in the hopes of finding a better life after Marc’s father abandons them following a tragic accident, in which Marc tries to protect his mother from his father’s violent temper. Marc feels it was his fault his father left and carries this burden on his too young shoulders.
As the story unfolds, Marc encounters an old witch who tells him to “Trust the spirits. Let them show you the way.” He then meets Sponge Bob, an older man who is a local treasure hunter and boogie boarder. Together they try to solve the “Legend of Isabella Rojas”. Marc encounters the ghosts of Isabella and her six children. Each provides clues about where they drowned. If Marc can find Isabella’s golden medallion of the Virgin Mary, then he can free their souls from their watery graves and will be rewarded with something greater than gold or silver.
But Marc is also haunted by a dream of a murdered Calvary trooper and a buried tin box full of gold, located somewhere around the Casa Grande, Arizona area; the same area where his estranged father went treasure hunting and stole a suitcase full of money from Manuel, a spiritual Mexican farmer. Marc feels obligated to help Jesus, Manuel’s son because of his father’s actions.
Marc continually runs across the path of his estranged father, who is also after the same tin box of gold. Marc struggles to reunite with him, only to finally realize his ultimate truth.
After a tragic turn of events, Marc fulfills the Legend and is rewarded with something he has been secretly hoping for. But his reward comes with a high price. However, it is Jesus who helps him to understand this.
Ghosts, surfing, lost treasure and the colorful history of Amelia Island set the background as Marc tries to solve the legend of Isabella Rojas all the while searching for a father figure. References to actual places, events, and things are used throughout to give this story a sense of local reality.
Marc set up for his last ride and caught a rogue fifteen footer. It was huge. He made the drop and cut left. As he screamed along the face, his back mere inches from the monster wall; he lost his balance and fell. He tobogganed down the face until the wave carried him back up then body slammed him down. He couldn’t tell which way was up. Finally, he was able to get back to the surface only to find that his new board had snapped in half. He was too far south for Garth to get around the corner of Bird Island. The waves were just too huge and wrapping around the island’s corner. So, Marc swam, using his broken board as a kick board as the waves continued to crash around him.
It was becoming hard for Marc to swim. Every few yards he struggled, was met with yet another wave, chaos and backwash as the water tried to find its way off the beach. Marc realized he was caught in a rip tide, a bad one. He knew he had to swim parallel to the beach or risk being swept out to sea. But, he was tired. His half surfboard just wasn’t enough. Marc’s arms felt like lead weights. His legs began to burn. Another wave crashed on him and pushed him under. He tried to fight to the surface as his energy drained away.
So, this is it, Marc thought, panic fading to be replaced by a sense of calm. He knew he was drowning. And he knew Garth couldn’t see him as the waves obscured Marc’s view of the channel. Images of his mother, father and Bob flashed through his head as his last breath finally escaped his burning lungs.
Suddenly, he felt someone grab him from below. As his last breath bubbled away, Marc opened his eyes and looked down. There, beneath the water, he saw someone about his age, pushing him up! Marc’s vision began to fade just short of blacking out. He broke the surface, gagging and coughing, sucking fresh air back into his lungs. After a moment he regained his senses and felt his energy return. He immediately put his face under water and opened his eyes.
There, Marc saw a young man of about eighteen. He was slowly sinking to the bottom, arms reaching up as if to say, save me. Marc knew he’d just encountered the last ghost child.
When Marc made it to Bird Island, he dragged himself up on the beach and flopped down, feeling the warm sand through his chilled body. He sat up and looked out to where Kip had caught a huge right. Marc marveled as he watched Kip chew it up. Kip finally dropped back down on his board and sledded into the channel where Garth picked him up.
Marc guessed that Garth would come across the inlet to get him shortly, after he‘d dropped Kip off with Steve.
After a short rest, Marc tore open his Velcroed leash, picked up his broken board and began walking along the edge of the island, towards the inlet.
As he walked, be couldn’t help looking at the tremendous waves still pounding in. He imagined seeing himself cut and slash the huge walls of water. His earlier brush with death faded from his mind to be replaced by thoughts of surfing and Isabella. Then something caught his eye. It was shiny. But, Marc couldn’t tell what it was from this distance. Marc looked back, over his shoulder, at the place he came ashore. With a start, he realized that the spot he almost died was the exact spot where he and Bob had found the shoe buckle and toy cannon. It was the same spot where he saw the last ghost child. He knew what lay before him, buried in the sand.
Marc ran over to the shiny object and pulled it from the sand. It was almost completely encrusted with centuries of sediment. But, one corner was exposed. Examining the object, Marc saw a few worn letters. Latin, he thought? He rubbed the exposed area. A blue sapphire and green emerald caught the sunlight and exploded in brilliance. He’d found the medallion.