"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

09 November 2012

✪ Perhaps Fortune Lay South? ✪

Vintage postcard from the archives of S. P. H. S.
Click to enlarge.
"While, in the late 1800s, most Victoria [B.C.] residents seeking riches went north, there were, between 1897 and 1902, four vessels which when they passed Cape Flattery turned south in their search for fortune. Their goal was the little island of Cocos, a few hundred miles west of Panama.
      Here was reputed to be the concealed treasure beyond imagining.
      First man to use the caves of Cocos as hiding place for pirate loot was the naval captain, Edward Davis, who turned to this nefarious profession in the late 1600s.
Cocos Island, Costa Rica.
05˚31' 08" N,  087˚04' 18" W
From The Pacific Islands, Vol. 2 1943.
      More than a century later another renegade, Capt. Grahame (later alias 'Benito') of H. M. S. DEVONSHIRE added another installment.
      Last substantial deposit arrived there on the British barkentine MARY DYER. On her had been loaded by authorities of church and state in Lima the riches they sought to save when the liberator Bolivar was feared to be approaching. The sight of such wealth was too much for the British seamen and they absconded to Cocos.
      That this last loot had indeed been hidden there was proved by visits in 1844 and 1850 by the man Keating (sometimes written Keyton) who brought away gold and jewels to the value of $35,000. The other stories of concealment were probably equally true, the hiding place each time supposed to be but temporary. But pirates' led short lives and their secrets died with them.
      To add to the difficulties of those who sought to recover the treasure were the land-slides that obliterated clues and land-marks.
      First Victoria group to join the many, past and present, lured by the thought of this immense fortune, was that which left in the Spring of 1897 on the 40-t schooner AURORA. It was commanded by Capt. Fred Hackett, a brother of the Capt. Thomas Hackett who had received from a fellow 'Canadian Maritimer', Keating, the maps and papers that the latter had received directly from Thompson, lone survivor of the barkentine MARY DYER. On the AURORA expedition was also Mrs. Brennan, former widow (third wife) of Keating.
      Later that year another surprising vessel left Victoria and some weeks later turned up at Cocos. Officially, of course, the IMPERIEUSE, flagship of the Pacific Station, and the accompanying AMPHION, had gone south on a series of friendly calls on neighbouring nations but the presence on board of a certain C. Harford, disguised though he was as a newsman, later made this excuse rather thin! Harford was the man who had been brought to Victoria on the AURORA's return voyage after the Victoria ship had found him there marooned when a Costa Rican gunboat had failed to return to pick him up.
      When the naval vessels got to Cocos hundreds of blue-jackets were sent ashore to 'dig for diamonds'--but unsuccessfully!
      This little foray not unnaturally led to protests from the Costa Rican government, owner of the island!
      The next year it was the later so famous Capt. J. C. Voss who sailed for Cocos, but so well did he disguise his purpose that Victoria papers of the time report the setting out of the little 8-ton XORA as under the command of Percy McCord and the 'turn of the century' exhibition of Paris as her destination. Voss, in his Venturesome Voyages, speaks of her as a 10-ton boat and identifies himself (undoubtedly correctly) as captain. With Voss and McCord were young Harry Voss and a certain Hass (Hahn?)
      A few months later they were back in Victoria, Voss ill from tropical fever, and not a penny richer.
      After this pause until the autumn of 1901 when the Pacific Exploration and Development Co. was formed in Victoria, its aim, the sale of 750 ten-dollar shares to raise the money to outfit another expedition to Cocos. Captain was to be the experienced Fred Hackett and an unusual angle of this undertaking was to be the use of some recently-invented 'metal-diviner'. These machines were said to be capable of locating gold and silver hidden underground from a distance of two hundred yards or more. 
      They were to be operated by Justin Gilbert, for many years Victoria court stenographer, and Daniel Enyeart of Washington, US. The two men, plus a Mr. Raub, went along on the BLAKELY on its 1902 expedition as passengers. Among the crew members was George Kirkendale, extracts from whose diary of the voyage follows" [in the next chapter of Home Port: Victoria.]
Above text; from this book, Home Port Victoria. Author published. 1967. 
                                   

True stories told by the men who sailed from the Port of Victoria
one hundred years ago.
In this city a common interest in the sea brought these mariners together and resulted in the formation of the Thermopylae Club, a monthly gathering at which they yarned together for over thirty years.

Book Search here
Home Port: Victoria


Cocos Island is a National Park of Costa Rica with an annual rainfall of 275". Jacques Cousteau called it "the most beautiful island in the world".






According to these authors, Cocos Island is the home of the biggest hidden treasure in the world. They claim the main Cocos Island treasure came from Peru; if you'd like to read their book try this search.

Book search here
The Lost Treasure of Cocos Island

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