More than just new destinations for your trip

The tales of the lost treasures

Posted in Saldanha on Mar 09, 2017

There are many romantic tales regarding treasures lost and found all over the coast of South Africa during the past five centuries. Some or based on facts some are based on less reliable information that’s be watered down from generation to generation. It is however certain that pirates careened their ships on islands off the coasts of East Africa and Madagascar in the 16th- and 17th- century and stories about them hoards hidden desperadoes still circulating.

Many ships carrying valuable cargoes, including treasure, have been wrecked off the coast of Southern and East Africa.

Records show that from the middle of the 16th century to the middle of the 17th the Portuguese alone lost roughly 130 ships on route to India, most of them on the treacherous coast of Africa.

One of the earliest recorded shipwrecks of treasure-laden vessels on South African shores was that of Soa Thome lost on the Tongaland coast in 1589 with, in the words of contemporary historians, `riches and merchandise almost beyond computation’. In 1593 the Santo Alberto was beached near the Umtata River mouth in Tembuland. Most of the treasure of these two vessels is believed still to be lying on the sea-bed. The exact location of both wrecks has not been established till this day but it is to believe that is was filled with beads, coins, jewellery. There has been a few of which has washed out from time to time that keeps this legend going till this very day.

Little over a century later, the Dutch East Indiaman Meresteyn was wrecked on Jutten Island in Saldanha Bay in April 1702. She was knows to have carried considerable amounts of treasure but no records of her cargo was ever found. The money chest she carried came to rest in iq, fathoms of turbulent water. From time to time some of its treasures has washed along ashore on the island or brought to the surface by penguins and found it their burrows, but salvage attempts proved to fruitless until the early 1970s, when two young men salvaged valuables from the wreck.