Travel

Between the Sun and the Sea

The view of Port Canaveral from the exploration tower. Photo: Soma Basu

The view of Port Canaveral from the exploration tower. Photo: Soma Basu   | Photo Credit: mamp24treasure

Along Florida’s East Coast on the Atlantic Ocean, Port Canaveral is a unique world marked by its entertainment and tourism, wildlife and sports, technology and local culture. But it is its own special history and stories of the region that make the place even more interesting

At Port Canaveral, you get to see a constant procession of boats and ships that pass through. The sight matches what we often see on the silver screen. Mega cruise ships set sail for exotic destinations from here. Submarines surface to visit the navy port for repairs and upkeep. Cargo vessels loaded with goods and river boats come and go. Fishing boats bring the daily catch ashore. Rockets carrying spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral’s air force station.

This unique quadramodal serving sea, land, air and space offers true thrill to any visitor who come in millions round-the-year making the port city the second busiest after Miami in the US. It is more than a gateway to the sea with tourism powering the region’s economy.

When you stand on the spectacular observation decks of the iconic exploration tower built three years ago over 22,000 sq.ft, it is a different world that opens out at each of the seven levels. Each tells a different tale from the military battles to space shuttle programmes, beach culture to wildlife and maritime events through exhibits and interactive sessions. And it is here on one of the floors you learn about the exciting adventures of a Florida family led by Eric Schmitt , that announced quite a present for the flagship of a 1715 Spanish treasure fleet, the Capitana, last year in August to mark the 300th anniversary of the fleet’s sinking off the coast of Florida. The shipwreck divers announced their find comprising 52 gold coins, 40 feet of gold chain, and 110 silver coins and buttons all worth over one million dollars.

History records that there were 11 ships as part of Spain’s Tierra Firme and New Spain fleets, regular convoys of vessels that transported gold, silver, and other precious resources from Spanish colonies in the New World to Europe. The ships sank during a hurricane that hit them on July 30 and 31, 1715 as they sailed past Florida on their way back to Spain.

According to the official website of 1715fleetsociety.com, Schmitt and his family had been working under contract with 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC, a Florida company with exclusive rights to the wrecks, for several years. Brent Brisben, is the co-founder of the company and is currently out on treasure salvage in the sand and silt of the sea floor. This is the salvage season, according to Allison Mc Neal, the Tourism Director of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce.

Though after last year’s haul, the team of shipwreck salvagers have continued to work the site, they have not found much other than silver coins and buttons and few other artifacts.

It is the element of mystery and the spirit of adventure that surrounds the hope of new discoveries along the treasure coast still. The way the story is narrated and some of the finds encased at the Exploration Tower can kindle imagination. Strongly recommended for both fun and education.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:01:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/Between-the-Sun-and-the-Sea/article14645185.ece

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