Croce still on the hunt for Drake’s coffin
PORTOBELO, Panama — After more than four centuries at the bottom of Portobelo Bay, Panama, Pat Croce’s Drake Expedition has found the burnt shipwrecks of the once feared English pirate.
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum founder and pirate historian Pat Croce and his international team of explorers last week discovered burnt timbers of two 16th century ships that team maritime archaeologist Jim Sinclair confirmed were Francis Drake’s 194-ton Elizabeth and 50-ton Delight, which were scuttled and sunk by its crews in 1596 shortly after Drake was buried at sea nearby.
“This is absolutely a dream come true—to find the ships of the most successful pirate in history, who singlehandedly wreaked havoc on Spain’s New Empire,” Croce said.
Sinclair said, “Finding the Elizabeth and Delight near where Sir Francis Drake is buried is as exciting to me as helping discover the Atocha and diving the RMS Titanic.”
The team has targeted specific areas in the mouth and harbor of Portobelo Bay for Drake’s ships and coffin since mid-October, funded and led by a determined Croce. Croce’s Drake Expedition is a subset of a much larger expedition of Panama’s east and west coast waters by IMDI Eco-Olas and is under the direction of world renowned subsea specialists, Deeptrek, headed by Jay Usher.
“This crystallizes the very reason Deeptrek exists,” said operations director Usher. “The combination of experience, talent and technology has allowed us to solve a 400-year-old mystery.”
While researching Drake for his illustrated book series, Croce discovered information that stoked the fire for further investigation. He hired top London researcher Trevor McEniry to cull information on the exact fate of Drake’s fleet and Drake’s demise and burial at sea, and used the info to pinpoint likely resting places.
Sir Francis Drake was the most successful privateer in maritime history. A brilliant navigator and naval war hero, Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. In 1586, he attacked and burned St. Augustine to the ground.
Read more about Sir Francis Drake and his daring high sea exploits
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
Launched in December 2010, the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum has one of the world’s largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts dating back to the 16th century. Originally located in downtown Key West, founder Pat Croce moved the museum to historic St. Augustine where pirates once plundered. With a fun mix of authentic artifacts, state-of-the-art interactive technology and real Florida treasures, The Pirate Museum has been rated as a top national attraction by the prestigious Budget Travel magazine.
More about Croce: http://www.patcroce.com/