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    It was every ship for itself. The San Roman soon lost her sails and then her rudder. She was helpless before the wind when she struck the jagged Florida reef in 22 feet of water, 1,800 feet offshore, where she dropped some of her ballast and 3 of her iron cannons. The bottom is sandy here with rolling bedrock, and furrows filled with sand as the bottom rises towards shore. Roman bounced several times as it moved shoreward, dropping another 8' cannon along the way. It finally grounded on top of the reef only 700 feet offshore in 12' of water. With the lower hull now filled with water the galleon rolled sideways with every huge wave that smashed against her sides, until finally the bow separated and made the rapid journey shoreward where it struck the berm line and came apart. John Brandon recovered the ornately carved wooden bow stem of the ship in deep sand within a few feet of the waters edge in 1984.
    As the hurricane passed, the winds now shifted to the south. Usually the winds are stronger on the back-side of the hurricanes and the main deck and sterncastle apparently separated. As the gun deck disintegrated along the top of the 2nd reef it left a trail of cannon and debris scattered for over 500' Today 17 cannon are still located in this area. As the ship's remains became lighter due to the loss of the cannon, it began to wash into the beach, lose some of itself, and be washed seaward again. This must have occurred over a distance of at least 3,000 feet to the north. During a 
severe storm Thanksgiving Day in 1985 one of these areas along the dune
line was cut away by erosion and beach treasure hunters had a bonanza. They recovered a small cannon, at least 14 gold coins, an emerald studded cross, and over 2,000 silver coins. This area is located about 900 feet north of the public parking area at Corrigan's, and over 2,500 feet north of the main cannon concentration. 'Two more 9' cannon lay just off the public parking area, one is located 150' to the south, the other about 250' to the north. Both are 700' seaward of the waters edge, and lay on hard reef with little cover.
     The disintegration of the San Roman must have occured over a distance because as salvage work progressed in recent years on the San Martin (1618) galleon site located 3 miles north of the Corrigan's site, 1715 material and coins were found intermingled with the San Martin material.
     General Ubilla was not among the survivors when the Regla came apart near the beach. Admiral Salm6n, when he learned of Ubilla's death, walked the 6 miles northward to the Regla site and took charge of setting up a survivors' campsite and salvage "Real" or headquarters. Once the survivors were on their way back to Havana, the serious task of treasure salvage commenced. Teams of native divers were dispatched from Havana, and the pearl diving headquarters on Margarita Island, and soon a score of boats were fishing and probing the bottom for major sections of the hull. They did this with long pike poles and sounding leads. Once a section was located the divers would go over the side and recover whatever looked salvageable and valuable.  The water after a hurricane is turbid and visibility probably at the time less than a foot, so it was not what would be considered a thorough salvage effort. Because of the huge quantity of treasure that was scattered over the reef, quite a bit 
was recovered between 1715-1719 when the formal salvage by the
Spanish ended. Salvage master Clemente reported that as much
treasure as could be found had been returned to Havana. He
recognized that the bottom where the San Roman sank was impos-
sible to completely salvage because of the number of reefs and
fissures that line the bottom. The major salvage effort ended and
the wreck site disappeared into the musty archives in Seville, 
Spain.
     In the early 1960's a landowner by the name of Hugh Corrigan began to find many gold and silver coins and artifacts on his property located 5 miles north of present day Vero Beach. Ed Link was invited to the area for a look-see, and during a magnetometer survey he discovered several cannon offshore. But it wasn't until Kip Wagner put a State pinpoint lease on the site because he felt sure it was part of the 1715 fleet, that a serious salvage project was started.
     At the time Kip was finding a lot of gold and silver on his other 1715 sites, so the Corrigan location was put on the back burner. It was 1968 when Mel Fisher moved his Treasure Salvors operation onto the site as a sub-contractor and began working the cannon area that the first coins came up off the bottom. That first year only 22 coins were recovered, and the following year only 101 and a few artifacts. But by 1970 the efforts became serious and a major project was started that produced results. Three boats working a total

 

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References

"Sunken Treasure On Florida Reefs,"  by Robert "Frogfoot" Weller

For additional information see:  "Galleon Hunt,"  "Shipwrecks Near Wabasso Beach,"  "Salvaging Spanish Sunken Treasure,"  "Famous Shipwrecks of the Florida Keys."  by Robert "Frogfoot" Weller

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