EL DORADO – Poetic justice in a tragic form took place on July 4, 1502. A fleet of 32 caravels had assembled at Santo Domingo four days before, making ready to sail for Spain.
Among the passengers on Antgonio de Torres’ flagship, El Dorado, was the scheming Bobadilla who had imprisoned Columbus two years earlier. By coincidence, their paths crossed again when Columbus put in at Santa Domingo on his return from a voyage. He didn’t like the feel of the heavy, still atmosphere, recognizing the familiar forewarning of hurricane.
He told Bobadilla as much, but his advice was scorned. Perhaps Bobadilla remembered the navigator’s warning four days later as he struggled for his life in the watery fury of the worst hurricane ever recorded at that time. During twelve hours of July 4, its cyclonic winds and massive waves tore the fleet to shreds, swamping a dozen of the ships in the Mona Passage and breaking most of the rest against the shores of Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Mona islands. Only five lived through the day.
Twenty-seven caravels, among them El Dorado, were lost with over 500 lives, including Bobadilla’s. There was treasure, in quantity, on the destroyed ships. Perhaps half of its gold nuggets and dust, and pearls, had been stowed aboard El Dorado.
The single richest item was a solid gold table, reputed to weigh 1.5 tons, through which Bobadilla intended to express his gratitude to the Catholic Kings for his appointment as governor. The flagship was believed to have gone down in the Mona Passage, where depths of 1000 feet are encountered.
No trace of its wreckage was discovered during the salvage work along the coasts after the seas had subsided. Much was recovered from wrecks which had been thrown up on reefs and beaches, but at least $3,000,000 (note: value was in 1962) in gold and pearls was gone. If accounts of Bobadilla’s 3310-pound golden table were true, about $2,000,000 in treasure lie in the remnants of El Dorado, way down under Mona Passage.
Some of the other wrecks against the coasts, partly salvaged or beyond reach of 1500 Indian skin divers, might make worthwhile targets for modern SCUBA-diving skin divers, but El Dorado and her treasures will probably never be found.
Story from Treasurelore.com