BALD HEAD ISLAND, N.C. -- Salvagers will seek a treasure of history, not gold, when they dive on a buried Spanish galleon that sank in 1804 amid reports of a murderous mutiny by its treasure-hungry crew.
Dennison Breese, a diver for Strategic Salvors, of South Point, N.C., said Friday that divers will pluck the 14-foot rudder from the Rose of Bilboa, La Rosa de Bilboa, buried under five feet of mud, sand and silt in 20 feet of murky ocean water about a mile off Bald Head Island.
The dive is scheduled for Nov. 13.
"We hope to find whatever is left that is worth preserving and put it in a museum," Breese said. "It would be very nice if some coins were found to help defray the cost, but the the project will go ahead even if we don't find any.
"We want to salvage the rudder to see what ships were like in those days," said Breese, a veteran of 35 years of commercial diving. "The rudder is in very good condition."
Researching the wreck, Breese and others uncovered the sordid tale of a murderous crew.
"The crew members were suspected of murdering the captain and mate," Breese said.
"Lt. Furgus, who was commander of the blockhouse at Fort Johnson in Southport, took them to Charleston for trial. We can't find any record of them being tried. We assume the charges were dropped for lack of evidence."
The ship's manifest, or inventory of cargo, was never found, but the documents containing interviews of the arrested crew members mentioned a portion of the cargo.
The ship, loaded with sugar from Havana, ran aground on a sandbar in a gale in 1804 while plying the treacherous waters where the Cape Fear River surges into the Atlantic.
"There are a lot of rumors in the Southport of coins being found on the beach of Bald Head Island," Breese said.
"They are all very well documented, but we haven't been able to find any of the coins."