Please select your home edition
Edition
Armstrong-A-Wing-728x90 gif TOP

British set sail for Cocos Island in search of fabled lost treasure

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 13 Aug 2012
Cocos Island - half way from Panama to the Galapagos SW
It doesn't just happen in story books and movies. A British explorer was this week preparing to set sail for a deserted Pacific 'treasure island' to search for pirate loot worth €200m. Shaun Whitehead, an engineer and lecturer from Leicester, will lead the expedition to the Pacific's Cocos Island, about half way between Panama and the Galapagos, but owned by Costa Rica, with the aim of retrieving the fabled treasure.

An original inventory showed 113 gold religious statues -- one a life-size Virgin Mary -- 200 chests of jewels, 273 swords with jewelled hilts, 1,000 diamonds, solid gold crowns, 150 chalices and hundreds of gold and silver bars.

The goods were stolen by British rogue and pirate Captain William Thompson in 1820 after he was entrusted to transport it from Peru to Mexico.

After leaving the port of Callao, near Lima, Thompson and his crew killed the Viceroy’s six men and sailed to Cocos, where they buried the treasure.


Shortly afterwards, they were apprehended by a Spanish warship. All of the crew – bar Thompson and his first mate – were executed for piracy.

The two said they would show the Spaniards where they had hidden the treasure in return for their lives, but after landing on Cocos, they escaped into the forest.

They are said to have been picked up by a passing ship a year later, but without the treasure.

Over the decades many treasure-hunters, including President Franklin D Roosevelt, racing car driver Sir Malcolm Campbell and swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn, all searched for the treasure.


The site, credited by some as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, is uninhabited. It has also been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site for its unspoilt environment and variety of wildlife and it has taken around 18 months of negotiations with the authorities to secure permission to go there on an exploratory mission. It is also said to have been the inspiration for Jurassic Park, the book and film about an island on which dinosaurs are recreated.

Armed with new technology that has never been used on the island, Mr Whitehead says he intends to establish the most likely locations on which to focus his efforts.


'If it is there, it will be in a natural cave which was hidden by one of the many landslides that occur on the island.

'It is not a case of following a map and 'X' marking the spot. It is about using a bit of logic to establish the likelihood of some areas where it could be,' he says.

'This is a scientific survey, including archaeological, geological and biodiversity aspects,' Mr Whitehead said.

'Unlike previous trips we are not going to dig vast holes or do anything destructive at all.'

The group are funding the expedition themselves, although they are hoping a television company may help to cover costs. They plan to travel after the end of the current rainy season, which finishes in November.

Marine Resources 2022 - FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW FOOTERHellamarine-Apelo-A3-@2x_1456x180px BOTTOM

Related Articles

Susan McKinnon on the U.S. Multihull Championship
A Q&A with Susan McKinnon on the U.S. Multihull Championship for the Hobie Alter Cup Sail-World checked in with Susan McKinnon, regatta chair of the 2023 U.S. Multihull Championship for the Hobie Alter Cup, to learn more about this championship-level multihull regatta.
Posted today at 3:00 pm
CIC Normandy Channel Race: 15 editions & counting
Sirius Evenements is proud of its history and excited about its future Created in 2010 by Sirius Evenements in partnership with the Norman authorities, the CIC Normandy Channel Race is proud of its history and excited about its future!
Posted today at 12:39 pm
ILCA Masters North American Championship
Shope, Rodriguez take different paths to the titles A strong autumn ebb tide augmented by some record rainfall across the Northeast created a one-way race track for most of the nine races at the 2023 ILCA Masters North American Championship.
Posted today at 8:17 am
More superyachts line up to race
New Zealand Millennium Cup announces new entries set to join the 2024 race The New Zealand Millennium Cup is pleased to announce a number of new entries set to join the 2024 race, following last month's Notice of Race release.
Posted today at 2:55 am
M32 Worlds at Newport, Rhode Island overall
Jake Julien's Rated X Crowned M32 World Champion The perfect ending to a perfect season: Jake Julien, Keith Swinton, Rhys Mara, Julius Hallstrom, and Jeff McCooey won the M32 World Championship. It's the crown jewel of their dominant 2023 title collection.
Posted today at 12:44 am
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2023 Day 1
Cannonball blasts ahead Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez set sail today with the race committee led by PRO Georges Korhel and assisted by the IMA's Ariane Mainemare, defying predictions in managing to get a race in for the 39-strong maxi fleet, despite light winds.
Posted on 1 Oct
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Day 1
40 gleaming Maxi Yachts kicked off today's action Les Voiles 2023 hits the racetrack! 40 gleaming Maxi Yachts kicked off today's action in a gulf bathed in sunshine reminiscent of the height of the summer in southern France. With it came close-contact racing, tactics and strategy too.
Posted on 1 Oct
Steering the Course returns
With a focus on empowering female coaches in sailing The second Steering the Course global women's sailing festival of 2023 officially gets under way on Friday 29 September as sailing clubs, Member National Authorities and volunteers around the world showcase the range of opportunities within the sport.
Posted on 1 Oct
Whitbread Round the World Race 85-86 Official Film
Lionel Péan skippered L'esprit d'équipe to victory over 14 other teams The latest in the series of historical re-uploads... The 1985-86 Whitbread Round the World Race. Lionel Péan skippered L'esprit d'équipe to victory over 14 other teams, marking the first time a French team would win the race.
Posted on 1 Oct
Arkea Ultim Challenge Brest: 100 days to go
Preparations are stepping up all the time for the competitors On January 7, qualified sailors will attempt a challenge which has not yet been achieved in the world of sailing: a solo round-the-world race on a giant Ultim multihull.
Posted on 1 Oct