The majority of the translations contained herein were taken from

the Archivo General de las Indias in Sevilla, Spain and done by

Dr. Nancy Farriss for the Real 8 Corporation. This documentation

was edited by Bob Marx and J. M. Rodriquez, Jr., with the help of

Lou Ullian and others of the Real Eight Corporation. Translations

done by Jack Haskins have been added to this.

No Page #. (This was probably written by Bob Marx)

The 1715 Flota Disaster

At sunrise on July 24, 1715, a convoy consisting of 12 ships set

sail from Havana harbor for the long voyage back to Spain. The

convoy was composed of 5 ships of the New Spain Flota, commanded

by Captain General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla, six ships of the

Squadron of Tierra Firme, commanded by Captain General Don

Antonio de Echeverz y Subiza, and a French ship named El Grifon,

commanded by Captain Antonio Daire. The Grifon was not part of

Ubilla's Flota or  Echeverz Squadron, but just happened to be in

Havana at the time and received permission to sail back to Europe

in the convoy. (Possibly, but Daire loaded his ship in Veracruz

harbor and it seems likely he made the Gulf crossing with Ubilla,


Echeverz' Squadron had sailed from Spain and gone directly to

Cartagena, Colombia, carrying assorted merchandise for sale at

Cartagena, Porto Belo, and Havana. Upon arriving at Cartagena,

Echeverz sent word to the Viceroy of Peru to send up the treasure

of Peru and Chile to Panama City, where it was then generally

transported overland on mules to Porto Belo where a Fair was

held, and then the treasure was placed aboard the ships of the

Squadron of Tierra Firme, sometimes called "The Galleons", and

carried back to Spain. Echeverz likewise notified the Viceroy of

the Island of Margarita to send the pearls from that area. Due

to the fact that the last Squadron of Tierra Firme had been

destroyed near Cartagena in 1708 by an English Fleet under

command of Admiral Wager, the Viceroy of Peru did not send the

treasure up to Panama City, as requested by Echeverz, rather it

was transported overland to Buenos Aires and then shipped to

Spain. For some unknown reason, the Viceroy of New Granada and

the governor of Margarita lsland did not send their treasure and

pearls to Cartagena. So instead of receiving a large amount of

treasure from South America, the amount which Echeverz received

was so little that it was hardly worth the effort of having gone


The only treasure he received was from the Governor of Cartagena,

his Royal Officials, and some belonging to merchants and private

persons. The Royal treasure consisted of 46,095 pesos, 6 reales,

and 10 maravedis in gold doblones (escudos); 309 castellanos, 7

tomines, and 6 grains of gold dust (en pulvo); and 646

castellanos in two small gold bars. All of it was carried on

Echeverz Capitana. Also put aboard his Capitana were 19 bars of

gold values at 26,063 pesos, 2,650 pesos in gold doblones, 1,485

pesos in silver specie, three gold chains values at 747 pesos; 47

serones of cocoa, and one and one half tons of Brazilwood.

Aboard his Almiranta he put eight gold bars valued at 8,978

pesos, 3,150 prsos in gold doblones, 175 pesoS in silver specie,

two chests of ceramic jugs, one chest of gifts,.two and one-half

tons of Brazilwood (a dyewood), 28 serones of cocoa, one chest of

vanilla, two chests of tortoise shells, and 650 cured half hides.

Aboard the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion he put 3,000 pesos in

gold doblones, four gold bars valued at 5,703 pesos, 15 serones

of cocoa, one chest of vanilla, 15 and 3/4 tons of Brazilwood,

1,440 cured half hides and some tobacco.

The ship El Ciervo only carried 96 tons of Brazilwood.

On his other two ships we know of no cargo or treasure loaded

aboard in Cartagena or Porto Belo, but like all the other ships

in his Squadron, it is believed that they received a large cargo

of tobacco in Havana. There is a possibility that there were

actually seven ships in Echeverz' Squadron, making a total of 13

sailing together from Havana, but the documents are very

confusing on this matter.

Ubilla's Flota consisted of 8 ships when 'it left Spain for Vera

Cruz but four were lost during a bad storm while at Vera Cruz,

and when he sailed for Havana he only had four ships in his

Flota. In Havana he purchased a small Frigate (Fragatilla) which

he added to his Flota.

Ubilla's Capitana carried the following treasure and cargo.

611,409 pesos in silver specie for the King; 169,111 pesos in

silver specie for the wages of the members of the Council of the

Indies in Madrid; 2,559,917 pesos in silver specie belonging to

private persons (Merchants). All of this treasure was contained

in 1300 chests. The Capitana also carried a small amount of

silver bars; 23 chests of silverware; one small chest containing

an undisclosed number of gold doblones, gold bars and pearls, a

small chest containing jewelry for the Queen; and another small

chest of gold jewelry belonging to a nobleman.

The general cargo consisted of Chinese porcelain, indigo,

cochineal, drugs, hides, Brazilwood, gifts, copper discs, and

ceramic drinking vessels.

In Havana, the Capitana of Ubilla loaded 36,000 pesos in silver

specie, gold discs, and some gold bars which had been salvaged

off a ship wrecked near Havana in in 1711. The Almiranta of Ubilla

received a like amount in Havana. (My account says 73,237 - JH).

The Almiranta (of the Flota) carried 990 chests of silver specie,

of which 611,408 pesos belonged to the King and 2,076,004 pesos

belonged to private persons. Other treasure carried consisted 53

chests of silverware. Her general cargo was the same as that of

the Capitana, in addition she carried sarsaparilla, cocoa, and

three Chinese folding screens. According to the documents which

are complete, she carried no gold treasure in any form, so the

gold coins which the Real Eight members found on this shipwreck

must have been unregistered contraband (or personal money .. JH).

The Refuerzo, also called the Urca of Lima, carried no Royal

treasure, but it did carry 81 chests and some loose sacks of

silver specie values at 252,171 pesos belonging to private

persons. In addition, it carried 13 chest of silverware and a

general cargo like that on the Capitana and Almiranta, plus some

snuff and balsam.

The Patache, which was a much smaller vessel than the above three

of Ubilla's Flota, carried no Royal treasure, but did carry

44,000 pesos of si1ver specie in 12 chests and some loose sacks

of leather (talegos). Since Real Eight members have found a

sufficient number of gold coins on this wreck in recent years

these coins were undoubtedly unregistered contraband. This ship

also carried a general cargo like the others, plus a type of


The documents do not indicate if that small frigate which Ubilla

bought in Havana carried any cargo or treasure, but it is

unlikely that it would have carried any treasure (..and it

belonged to the Captain General? - JH).

The total value of registered (treasure) carried on the four

ships of Ubilla's, excluding silverware, jewelry, and a small

number of gold coins, was 6,388,020 pesos. The total amount of

treasure carried on three of the ships of Echeverz Squadron was

98,046 pesos in silver and gold specie, plus the 955 castellanos

in gold dust and bars. The total carried in the overall convoy

was 6,486,066 pesos and 955 castellanos.

According to the records there were virtually no gold coins

carried on any of the ships, which means that those being

recovered by Real Eight members were unregistered contraband.

This is substantiated by the fact that most of the gold discs

being recovered by Real Eight are not properly marked as

registered gold bars had to be at that period.

After the convoy left Havana, it began making its way up the

Bahama Channel. During the night of July 30th they were struck

by a fierce hurricane and all of the ships were wrecked upon the

coast of Florida, with the exception of the ship Grifon which

miraculously escaped. Over 1000 persons lost their lives,

including Ubilla and his principal officers. About 1500 persons

reached shore by floating aboard pieces of wreckage or swimming,

and some of them perished from exposure, thirst and hunger before

aid could be sent to them from Havana and St. Augustine.

Salvage efforts on the wrecks began immediately, and by the end

of December the officials in charge of the salvage operations

reported that they had already recovered all of the King's

treasure and the major part of the treasure belonging to private

persons, totaling 5,200,000 pesos. The following Spring they

recovered an additional amount of treasure, so that by July, when

the Spaniards ended all further salvage efforts they had

recovered a reported total of 5,241,166 pesos in silver specie

and bars, excluding the gold specie and bars, the silverware, and

the general cargoes. We also know that for several years after

the Spaniards ended their salvage operations, that Englishmen

from Jamaica and the Bahamas also salvaged unknown amounts off

these wrecks.

When the Spaniards ended their salvage operations supposedly

there remained a total of 1,244,900 pesos of registered treasure,

but the true amount will never be known because the survivors and

salvors were known to have robbed unknown amounts. Furthermore,

we have no means to determine how much unregistered treasure was

carried on the ships, which still remains to be recovered.

Gold, in weight being worth 16 times the value of silver, was the

most common item smuggled back to Spain, and since there was

virtually no gold coins registered aboard the ships it is

possible that a substantial amount was being smuggled in this

convoy. However, we have no way of proving this until Real Eight

has completely worked all the wrecks of this convoy.