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Treasure-hunting family strikes gold
Brian_V - 9/10/2013 1:03 PM
Replies: 8

How many divers out there are secretly hoping to
come across a REAL treasure chest while diving?
Here’s a group of divers who had that dream come true:

Treasure-hunting family strikes gold

Most treasure hunters go a lifetime and never take home a
single piece of silver. But one Sanford family is now among
the divers who struck gold — and a lot of it.

The treasure-hunting Schmitt family uncovered this weekend
what could be $300,000 worth of gold chains and coins off
the coast of Fort Pierce.

"This is like the end of a dream," said Rick Schmitt, who
owns Booty Salvage.

The discovery came about 150 yards offshore and only 15
feet down. Schmitt’s family — along with diver and friend,
Dale Zeak — said they found 64 feet of thin gold chain
that weighed in at more than three pounds, five gold coins
and a gold ring.

Brent Brisben, co-founder of 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC,
the company that owns the rights to dive on the wreckage
site, came up with what he called a conservative estimated
value of the haul.

"To be the first person to touch an artifact in 300 years,
is indescribable," Brisben said Monday. "They were there
150 years before the Civil War. It’s truly remarkable to
be able to bring that back."

Schmitt’s company is a subcontractor of Brisben’s company.

Things haven’t typically gone so well.

"We’re world-class recyclers," said Schmitt’s daughter,
20-year-old Hillary Schmitt, while laughing.

Like most hunters, she was used to dredging up old beer
cans and broken fishing equipment on her summer excursions
aboard her family’s vessel, the AARRR Booty. She has been
diving with her family since she was 6.

The centuries-old loot came from a fleet of Spanish ships
struck by a strong hurricane off Florida’s coast on July 30, 1715.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the storm that claimed
11 of the dozen ships.

Mounds of gold, silver and other artifacts were spilled
across the ocean floor. Some was recovered in the years
after the storm, but many treasure hunters and historians
believe that millions of dollars in silver and gold still
remain, according to the Queens Jewels website.

Florida’s Treasure Coast was named after the disaster.

Brisben also struck gold this summer. One of his ships
raked in 51 gold coins worth about $250,000.

The state gets the first pick of the treasure. Up to 20
percent of the rarest finds will be displayed in museums.
The rest will be split equally between Brisben’s company
and the Schmitts.

Even so, for the Schmitt family, the hunt is about more
than just the money.

"The greatest treasure is time with the family," said
Lisa Schmitt, Rick Schmitt’s wife.

Her husband went on his first treasure dive near the Sebastian
Inlet when he was a teenager in 1964.

Over the decades, 65-year-old Rick Schmitt has been on hundreds
of excursions between Fort Pierce and the Sebastian Inlet.
Although he and his crew have found coins and other artifacts
in the past, he said this is the largest find he has ever come across.

But it wasn’t until Schmitt sold his Sanford-based pest control
business in 1999 and retired, that he started his family’s
diving salvage business.

In 2002, his son, Eric Schmitt, then a Lake Mary High School
sophomore, had his first big find near Sebastian. He uncovered

a silver platter minted in Mexico nearly 300 years ago. The
platter was worth about $25,000, Brisben said.

The Schmitts used their first ship, Booty Quest, until it
was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Frances in 2004. Last
season, which generally lasts from Memorial Day to Labor
Day, was their first time diving on their own vessel since then.

Last year, they found only a single gold coin on Labor Day.

But as Lisa Schmitt said, that is the life of a treasure hunter.

By Desiree Stennett, Orlando Sentinel
Brian_V - 9/10/2013 1:05 PM
...Just curious, what is the greatest ’treasure’ anybody has found to date?
Smithsgold - 9/10/2013 10:00 PM
Gold !!!
RockRat2008 - 9/11/2013 5:09 AM
Nothing real exciting, weights, weight belts, weight pockets, a mask, a couple of snorkels, etc.
tshark - 9/12/2013 2:19 PM
Fishing poles anchors knives spear shafts tickle sticks nets toilets bikes motorcycles cars boats bottles cans fishing lures hooks dive computer
needgills - 10/01/2013 12:05 PM
I found an BCD complete with tank off North Shore, in sharks cove. Didnt find the diver it belonged to.... Turned it in to the local fire department.
Brian_V - 10/01/2013 1:58 PM
From needgills: I found an BCD complete with tank off North Shore...
Somebody MUST be hoping to that back! Once on a dive at a local lake, the divers were doing in-watering donning, so they dropped their BCD’s into the water before entering, and one diver forgot to inflate their vest. Of course the entire unit sank immediately to the bottom. The cove was kind of murky, just a couple feet of viz. It took us several weekends of searching before it was found!