Milnerton lagoon

A fortune lies waiting

By Prega Govender - Times Live

A treasure trove has been lying untouched 7m underwater along the Cape coastline for the past nine years.

Priceless artefacts, including Chinese and Japanese porcelain, textiles and earthenware from the wrecks of two ships that sank more than three centuries ago, are scattered on the ocean floor about 500m south of the entrance to the Milnerton lagoon. 

Now, three treasure hunters - Graham Raynor, Michael Barchard and Christopher Byrnes - in their early 60s are desperately waiting to be granted shipwreck permits by the South African Heritage Resources Agency to continue excavating the wreck of the Oosterland as well as its sister ship.

If granted, this would be among the first batch of permits issued since the heritage agency controversially banned historic wreck salvaging in 2001.