Ovation: The Schmitts’ Treasure Coast Discovery.
Family vacations when I was young, usually found the family in Florida. We routinely visited the Walt Disney World complex and the chaos that accompanies the experience. After several days of crowds and lines and noise, we would head to the Atlantic coast. Specifically, to a RV Resort in Fort Pierce. The campground was right across the street from a beautiful stretch of beach and, at the time, there wasn’t a high-rise building in site. It was an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the Sunshine State after being a part of the commercial tourist environment.
Little did we know that, just off the coast, a Spanish treasure lay on the ocean floor.
Recently, Rick Schmitt, 65, who has spent most of his life searching for treasure with his family in the Fort Pierce area, made his biggest discovery ever. About fifteen feet underwater, one hundred fifty yards from shore, the Schmitt family found sixty-four feet of gold chain, five gold coins, and a gold ring together valued at an estimated $300,000.
The gold is believed to be about three hundred years old and belonging to one of eleven Spanish ships that went down in a hurricane in 1715, earning the area the nickname “Treasure Coast”.
Last Labor Day, the family only found one gold coin but, in the past, there have been other big finds. In 2002, Schmitt’s son found a three-centuries-old silver platter worth $25,000. The state of Florida gets to keep up to twenty percent of this new treasure for display in museums while the Schmitt family and the company that holds local diving rights will share the rest.
All those years ago, I thought I’d hit the jackpot each time I found a perfect sea shell on the beach. I’d carefully pack each priceless treasure so that I could be sure to get it home without damaging it. I imagine the Schmitts know exactly how that feels.
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