Ahoy! Let’s Hunt Some Treasure

From shore, Polly-L looks more like an oil rig than a ship. Her black stanchions rise high above the water, dwarfing even the flag pole which sits atop the living quarters. The legs, which lift the working deck up out of the water, makes it easier for the crew to do what they’ve set out to do; find buried treasure.

Polly-L and her crew made a quick stop in Boca Raton this week before heading down to the waters off Key West to explore the wreck of the Santa Margarita, a ship that’s spent nearly 400 years waiting in the warm shallow waters of the keys. Porthole Cruise was lucky enough to get a tour of the ship and learn a little more about what it takes to be a professional treasure hunter.

RELATED: 5 Spots in the Florida Keys You Can’t Miss

21st Century Treasure Hunting


Polly-L in Boca Raton

Forget what Robert Louis Stevenson wrote. “X” never, ever marks the spot.

However, that doesn’t seem to bother the crew of Amelia Research and Recovery on board Polly-L, who spend weeks, even months at a time living and working on board one of the most environmentally friendly ocean salvage and recovery ships in service today.

The ship is entirely self-sustaining with a desalinator, generators and more, only returning to shore when fuel runs low. Once they settle in the area of a shipwreck, the ship’s massive blowers push sand away from the area and divers explore the newly cleared area with metal detectors for items of importance. On a good day, the team may uncover bits of wood and metal spikes which once held a ship together. On a great day, it could be a clump of gold coins fused together by centuries of oxidation or a bar of silver weighing 80 pounds. Everyday is a new adventure with unlimited discovery potential and that’s just how the crew likes it.


The Bridge aboard Polly-L

For the Love of the Find


From Left to Right: Brian, Scott and Mike on board Polly-L

In the summer of 1715, a fleet of 12 Spanish ships, heavily laden with gold, silver, emeralds and more, departed from Cuba. 11 of them wrecked in a hurricane just a week later 500 miles later off the coast of modern day Vero Beach, FL.

A billion dollars in treasure lost for centuries in the shallow, sandy waters of South Florida until a family by the name of Fisher began finding the wrecks and hauling millions in treasure back onto solid ground. The Fisher family, led by Mel Fisher, is perhaps America’s most famous treasure hunting clan and they paved the way for crews like the team on board Polly-L to continue the search for history lost.

While many may be blinded by the shiny allure of gold and silver, the team at Amelia Research and Recovery have more at heart than a pile of gold coins. You don’t get into treasure hunting to get rich, the crew is quick to explain. Understanding history is at the forefront of their discovery, just read the ship’s mission:

To be the vessel and crew to locate, document and recover the shipwrecks of the Spanish Fleet from the year of loss 1715 for the purpose of historical record & public knowledge.

Grab your metal detectors and hit the beach, you might find something worth looking for!