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Disney Wonder Departs Key West Disney Cruise Line: The History 5 months ago 10:35
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Now today the island is known as Castaway Cay. It’s the name that Disney gave it in the summer of 1996 while it was being developed for the Disney Cruise Line. However up until that point, the island went by the name of Gorda Cay.
So first, let’s talk about the buried treasure of Gorda Cay. That’s right, real actual treasure. In 1656 a convoy of ships from the Spanish fleet was passing through the Little Bahama Bank while making its way back to Spain. They found themselves in strong winds that took them into particularly shallow waters and it was then that the rear guard of the convoy, the Nuestra Señora de la Maravillas, ended up colliding with another ship. At the time the ship was carrying over five million pesos worth of cargo, including coins, silver bars, jewels, and more. All of it sank along with the Maravillas and the vast majority of the 700 souls on board died that night.
Of course the Spanish fleet wasn’t about to let all of the cargo just sit at the bottom of the ocean, so over the following few years various ships were hired and ordered to salvage as much of it as possible. Funny enough, but most of the silver that had gone down with the ship had, itself, been salvaged from an even earlier shipwreck in 1654. The following year after the wreck, two salvage ships were transporting some of the recovered cargo from the site of the wreck to Puerto Rico when they, themselves, ended up shipwrecked. Look, sailing in the Caribbean back then was understandably risky at times. They didn’t have the Weather Channel. This time the wreck occurred just south of Gorda Cay. It was reported that some of the survivors buried whatever they could save from the wreck on the island itself.
Now before you start packing your shovels and setting off on a Disney Cruise to find buried treasure, the salvage on the island was later recovered as was plenty of the salvage that had gone down with the ships. Again, they weren’t about to just let all of it lie there. However between shifting sands, weather, primitive technology, and mapping and record keeping that wasn’t always completely accurate, it wasn’t common for everything to be salvaged from a wreck. Most of the time a good amount of it would end up lost. Also by the way, if you’re keeping track, that would mark the third time in four years that those silver bars would sink to the bottom of the ocean. I’m not saying cursed treasure exists, but ya know, if it did exist, that’s probably what it would look like.
The History of Diving - Art McKee: Father of Modern Treasure Hunting
Encyclopedia of Western Atlantic Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure by Victoria Sands and Robert Marx
Blackbeard Doesn't Come Here Anymore by Robert Antoni
Disney buys Bahamian island for cruise shop stopovers - Florida Today (2/29/96)
Disney close to landing its own island - The Orlando Sentinel (2/10/96)
Disney island to be quiet getaway - The Orlando Sentinel (8/18/96)
On board Disney cruise ships, families are pampered - The Tampa Tribune (2/4/01)
Cruise lines create their own paradise keys - The Tampa Tribune (10/5/97)