15' Deep, Angustias Wreck Needs Advanced Diving Certification
The Angustias wreck, officially the Nuestra Senora Las Angustias, is also referred to as El Charanguero Grande or the San Rafael.
No matter this Florida shipwrecks name, she's another of the ill fated ships that sailed with the doomed 1733 Spanish Treasure Fleet.
This vessel, captained by Francisco Sanchez Madrid, was positioned near the rear of the Flota, and sailed with the
Almiranta and El Sueco de Arizon.
The treasure fleet ships were forced west by the strong hammering winds, and the powerful waves which swept over their decks.
The Florida hurricane was so violent that the topmasts of the Angustias were ripped off by the the wind, tangling them in the mainsail. The towering waves were so forceful that they pushed the ship onto her side, tossing her 4 cannon and some of her cargo overboard.
French Angelfish and Coral
www.noaa.gov, Photo Alton E. Day, FKNMS
In an effort to keep the ship afloat, the crew cut down her masts but the strength of the storm proved too much. The combination of wind and waves from the strong Florida hurricane
forced the ship over the sharp, jagged Florida coral reefs and into shallow water.
Here this Spanish ship grounded and sank in only 15 feet of water off Long Key, in Long Key Channel. The fate of her other two traveling companions, the Almiranta
El Sueco de Arizon
was equally disastrous as they grounded nearby.
Fortunately all of her crew were saved, but the valuables which had stayed on board were in peril. The 328.5 ton merchant vessel carried a precious cargo typical of the rest of the Flota.
In her holds were indigo and cochineal, along with silver pesos, and popular Chinese porcelain. The dye on board would have been easily damaged by the incoming flood of water, but the crew were able to salvage much of what they carried, including personal items.
Pillar Coral Group
www.noaa.gov, Photo FKNMS
Wreck Diving Conditions
Today there's not much left of the Angustias wreck. As with most of the ships that traveled with the 1733 Plate Fleet, the Spaniards did a good job of salvaging their treasure. Centuries later, modern treasurer hunters also scoured these shipwrecks looking for any artifacts that had been left behind.
With it's typical wood construction, very little of this treasure ship's structure is left. Basically the only thing that remains of the Angustias wreck is a portion of the keel which is covered by her ballast.
If you're scuba diving Marathon FL and choose this as one of your sunken ships for wreck diving, you'll find that her ballast pile stretches over the area. You'll also find fragments of timber, and even occasionally a piece of iron.
Conditions at the Angustias wreck are difficult as the water is murky, the currents strong, and eel and shark are usually present. These conditions are the reason this shallow dive site is reserved for advanced diving certification. Since the diving conditions aren't favorable, the artifacts found are minimal, and the environment is difficult, this is a Marathon wreck diving site seldom visited.
Sea Turtle off Florida Keys
www.noaa.gov, Photo FKNMS
This is unfortunate however, because there are some interesting and large pieces of
and the fish and other marine life are quite abundant. If you're scuba diving Florida Keys and do choose to explore the Angustias wreck, you'll want to maximize your efforts and go wreck diving at high slack tide. This will make the current more manageable, but it will also mean your visibility will be sacrificed.
At-A-Glance Wreck Diving Description
and GPS Coordinates
Angustias aka Nuestra Senora de las Angustias - 329 ton merchant ship
Long Key Channel off Long Key near Long Key Bridge
24 47.455N 80 51.738W
When diving Middle Keys, this site's visibility is usually poor due to silt. If the current is from Long Key Bridge visibility is bad. Visibility is best at high tide
Dive Site Description
Eel hideout in the ballast pile, numerous large sharks cruise the area. Currents are strong, silt is heavy and visibility is usually poor
Eel, sharks, coral heads, purple sea fans, sea whips, ocean sponges,
Stoplight Parrotfish and Brain Coral
www.noaa.gov, Photo George Cathcart, FKMNS
If you're planning on honing your shipwreck treasure hunting skills diving this Marathon Key wreck, you'll need to be prepared. You'll require some kind of a digging tool, and a fan like device to keep the silt from moving back over your work area. A light will be especially helpful, and you should plan on working the area further away from this shipwreck diving site, and focus on moving towards shore.
Occasionally some treasure coins are still found in the area, so there's a good chance Spanish treasure will be found at or near the Angustias dive site. Just watch the strong current, keep a wary eye on the
and watch out for the eel that hide out in the ballast pile.