Twice in five years I dived on the wreck, more out of curiosity than thoughts of gain. One day in the summer of 1955, with nothing better to do, I went down for another look, within minutes I uncovered a small, five-sided piece of gold. At that point my mild interest in treasure hunting changed. We set out the next day to see what other treasure the old ship held. The weather looked uncertain; I feared we might not be able to dive. I put on a full faced diving mask, which gets air through a rubber hose attached to an air compressor on deck, I leaped into the water. Patiently, lest I overlook something of value, I skimmed across the sandy bottom, which lay like a closed valley between walls of coral.

My aim that day was to clear away all obvious signs of a shipwreck so that if someone stumbled onto the site he would not recognize it as a shipwreck. I found three beautiful three-quarter inch gold buttons, each studded with three large pearls. Stuck to a few of the musket barrels and cannonballs were two hundred ancient Spanish and French coins. The most recent coin in the batch was dated 1592. With the hurricane season upon us we were running out of time. It was already late August and for several days we were shorebound. Soon the weather cleared, and we put in a third day on the bottom. Working slowly, I fanned my hands back and forth to create eddies, which washed the sand away from the spot where I found the original gold piece. A round gold ingot, nine times the size of the first, poked out of the sand. Clearly stamped on its surface was a royal Spanish tax stamp. Another full day’s work produced only a gold and pearl button. Again the weather soured. Winds from the northeast sent foaming white water crashing across the reefs around the old wreck. We were stuck ashore. Two days later the weather cleared. Anchoring over the old wreck, I leaped into the water and swam down into the coral-protected valley of sand and started fanning and after about ten minutes a shiny object emerged, then another. I uncovered a ten-and-a-half-inch-long, thirty-six-ounce bar of gold and one smaller piece. A few days later I put in a sixth day of diving and found another gold ingot.

By September 1955, and the weather was getting worse. Then on the seventh day, a Sunday, I found the greatest single object of all. Eager to work faster, I took a water hose down to the bottom and turned on the jet to blast sand from the area below the brain coral. After carving a deep hole I turned the jet off. When the debris settled, my eyes fell on a gold cross lying face down in the sand, I picked it up and turned it over. Awe struck, I counted the large green emeralds on its face. There were seven of them, each as big as a musket ball. From small rings on the arms of the cross hung tiny gold nails, representing the nails in Christ’s hands, and at the foot was the ring for a third, which had been lost. The carving while beautiful was somewhat crude, indicating that Indians made the cross. It remains my most treasured discovery.