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Does the name Treasure Coast conjure up images of pirates or Spanish gold? Or do you think it's just the product of an overactive imagination on the part of some Chamber of Commerce Public Relations folks?Actually, the former is closer to the truth. And the story begins back in 1715.
To deter piracy, the Spanish Conquistadors usually sent ships back home from the New World in convoys — there was safety in numbers even then. On July 24 of that year, a fleet of eleven departed from Havana with treasure plundered from Mexico and Columbia. In addition to other valuable cargo, the ships carried a registered inventory of gold and silver amounting to almost seven million pieces of eight (and surely a large amount of unregistered contraband bullion as well). By July 31st, they were off the coast of Florida, somewhere between today's Ft. Pierce and Sebastian Inlet, when they met with a hurricane. The storm drove most of the fleet onto the reefs that run along this part of the coastline, scattering wrecks and their cargoes of gold, silver and artifacts for miles. The Spanish later conducted a salvage effort, but to little avail; most of the ships' valuable cargo remained buried beneath surf and sand. The Treasure Coast was literally covered with loot, but all of it was out of sight. Then, over the years, the treasure gradually revealed itself as the sand washed away. By 1960, the discovery of the source: the 1715 wrecks and their survivors' shoreside encampments, led to a modern gold rush that earned this stretch of coastline its name.
And the appellation still applies today — though to a considerably lesser degree. Despite the nearly 300 years of salvage efforts since the Spanish fleet was wrecked on these shores, beachcombers still find occasional doubloons or pieces of eight uncovered by storms. Indeed, if some of the delights to be found on the Space Coast were gained by looking up, here you might find something of interest by looking down! (No guarantee of treasure, of course, but you never know what you'll see.)
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The origin of the Treasure Coast's name is easier to pinpointthan its boundaries. Let's say this is somewhere south of the Pelican Island Preserve, around mile 943.4, where State Road 150 crosses the waterway. This part of SR 150 is a causeway that leads from the village of Wabasso on U.S. Highway One over to the barrier island and includes a fixed bridge (65' clearance) over a stretch of water as pretty as any on the ICW. Here, you leave behind the straight channel running through broad waters as the waterway changes to narrow, winding channels that meander between islands covered with tropical foliage and speckled with white sand beaches. It's absolutely beautiful. But the area is very popular with local boaters, so you may have to watch out for traffic — especially on weekends. Unfortunately, the barrier island here has also become very popular with developers, and its days of wild beauty are probably numbered.
If you'd like a closer look at unspoiled, undeveloped Florida, visit the Environmental Learning Center just west of the Wabasso Bridge.There’s a peaceful anchorage in the creek mouth on Pine Island, but if you are looking for creature comforts, go farther south to the marina at Grand Harbor (Loggerhead Club & Marina - Vero Beach) which shares its amenities - including swimming pool and golf course - with marina visitors.
About another five miles south lies the beautiful city of Vero Beach, with excellent facilities that are a preview of the urban attractions of the Gold Coast — though on a less crowded scale. Many a cruising boatman has succumbed to its myriad pleasures, stayed to enjoy them, and saved the Gold Coast for another year. (Continue...)
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