Seafarer crew hunting for Spanish gold off Juno Beach

ByLona O'Connor - The Palm Beach post

With his dark slacks, pale skin and battered leather briefcase, it is clear that Kyle Kennedy is the office guy of the treasure-hunting company Seafarer Explorations.

Just granted a state permit to explore the area off Juno Beach for the next three years, Seafarer hopes to raise a fortune for its shareholders.

"One of my shareholders says, 'It's like having a lottery ticket with no expiration date,'" said Kennedy, whose company is based in Tampa. The salvaging operation is expected to begin next week.

The crew, including Capt. Rodney Grambo, look much more like the seafarers they are, wearing flip-flops and shorts, their skin tanned the same color as Kennedy's briefcase and their biceps richly tattooed. They also have good seafaring nicknames like Ringo.

Their boat, dwarfed by the luxury yachts and fishing boats around it, has an equally colorful name, Iron Maiden. Her stern is distinguished by two giant blowers that push away tons of sand, speeding the tedious excavation process.

Funny story about those sand blowers: A few years back, when Captain Rodney was looking for a treasure chest full of emeralds from the Atocha, Mel Fisher's $400 million treasure ship, the blowers did their job too well.

"The blowers blew the emeralds everywhere," said Grambo. "Still to this day they call that site the Emerald City."

Here's how the treasure-hunting process works: About 20 years ago Palm Beach County treasure hunter and historian Jud Laird found an anchor off the coast of northern Palm Beach County.

Laird worked the site for a few years, then recently joined forces with Seafarer.

By the positioning of the anchor's fluke, or barbed end, they determined that the ship anchored offshore during a storm.

By the distribution of lead musket balls, lead hull sheathing, cannonballs and serpentine jade from the ship's ballast pile, they estimated how far the ship was dragged by the storm before it sank.



Mel fisher Atocha Tampa Seafarer Explorations Spanish gold Juno Beach Kyle Kennedy