Treasure hunter searches for long-lost Spanish galleon in Nassau Sound

First mate Keith Sonnemann (left) and Doug Pope stand on the deck of the Polly-L. The research vessel is having work done in dry-dock in Green Cove Springs.  Read more at

By Drew Dixon - The Florida Times Union

Nassau Sound is known for its tricky waters to navigate, shark infestations and a remote, narrow pass where the Nassau River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Doug Pope also sees the sound as a possible site of treasure from the long-lost Spanish galleon San Miguel that wrecked in 1715.

Pope is president of Amelia Research & Recovery LLC, based in Fernandina Beach, and his quest to find the San Miguel’s loot is the basis of his business.

Pope said the find of a jeweler’s furnace in 1993 near Amelia Island is believed to be from the ship that was part of a fleet of about a dozen that went down during a hurricane nearly 300 years ago.

The treasure salvaging season for Pope commences in about two weeks, when area waters are most calm.

Curious Britannia, a historical research organization in the United Kingdom, estimates the lost San Miguel treasure with gold and silver bars along with coins, jewels and other valuables to have a value of up to $2 billion.

The organization’s website, named the San Miguel as potentially one of the most valuable shipwrecks that has yet to be recovered.

“You got to be excited. There’s a lot of anticipation this year,” Pope said last week. “We’ve got a little more research leaning toward where the San Miguel is and the value of it.”

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