Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 57 > Page 76 - Alex Storm: Treasure Ship Chameau

Page 76 - Alex Storm: Treasure Ship Chameau

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/6/1 (328 reads)

Louisbourg. Proposed in 1111, the lantern was first lit on 1 April 1734. Two centuries passed and the Chameau and the treasure, still at the bottom, grew into a local legend. But was the treasure still there and could it be recovered? Two stories were told by local fishermen. One was that two men trawling for herring in the area of Chameau Rock had hauled up a pouch so heavy that it required the strength of both men to lift it out of the water. As they were lifting it aboard, the stitches gave way, the pouch split and hundreds of silver coins spilled back into the sea. The second tale noted that some lobster fishermen once hurried home and rigged up long poles with tar-covered mops at the end, then returned to the location. They dipped the sticky mops into the water and recovered many coins. In 1914 a shipwreck occurred at Woody Point, where in 1725 a large section of Chameau's starboard side and other debris had come ashore. The 1,023-ton steamer Ca- pella tore open its hull on the submerged rocks and went down. A diver stationed at Louisbourg examined the wreck and reported salvage possibilities. After examining the wreck of the Capella. the diver claimed that he had seen a sawtooth rock formation at the bottom containing silver and gold coins. Being on a specific job, he intend? ed to return for the coins later. Unfortu? nately, both he and his son were drowned on a return trip from Prince Edward Island and the coins were not recovered. It was against this general background that Harvey MacLeod, David MacEachern and myself prepared to solve the mystery of the Chameau's valua- "Experience a New World of Shopping" A collection of Maritime handcrafts, Canadian pine, woolens, folk art, country clothing, gifts and accessories. Major Credit Cards Accepted A Cape Breton Country Store OPEN DAILY (902) 295-2868 Chebucto Street Baddeck ble cargo of coins. Louisbourg was our home base, but after launching our boat, the Marilyn B. II in May 1965, we chose the tranquil harbour of Little Lorraine as our base of operations. It was much nearer to the reef and of easy access. There at Jim Gallant's wharf our vessel received the finishing touches for the job at hand. By the beginning of June 1965, all was ready and we took our boat out on our first trip. Rough seas and an ever-increasing north? westerly wind greeted us on arrival in Kelpy Cove. Rather than abandoning our first attempt at diving, we decided to an? chor in the lee of Porto Nova Island in the hope that wind and tides would sub? side. After a quick look at the rusting anchors and gun barrels, we re-located the clusters of eroding cannon balls stuck fast to the reef. In addition, we discov? ered considerable quantities of small lead pellets, quickly dubbed "partridge shot," and a few strips of lead sheathing. The water was extremely cold and did not allow a lengthy stay below, in spite of our thick neoprene wetsuits. During the week that followed, we placed a specially prepared grid over the wreck? age. ... It was hoped that we might be able to establish a pattern indicated by the trail of material that had spilled from the damaged hull as it skidded over the reef. This in turn would indicate a gener? al direction for our search for the Cha? meau' s final resting place. After finds in the first sections of the grid were plotted on a site plan, we con? firmed that the hull had moved away from Chameau Rock after capsizing. Twenty-three cannons had been found within 200 feet of the rock. Since the Chameau carried 44 guns in total, nearly the entire armament of the lower gun deck was missing. Welcome to Baddeck! "HOME OF QUALITY GOODS" Beside the BELLMUSUEM MAY, JUNE & OCTOBER 9-5 • JULY, AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 9-9 Unique Selection of Gifts & Handcrafts (local & Nova Scotian) Scottish Tartan & Chinaware Business 295-2915 Plus a wide variety of gifts, souvenirs and film Residence 295-2534 Diving was diffi? cult and often? times impossible. There was usually a southwest wind which, even at 15 knots, whipped up enough of a chop to pound the caulking out of the seams and make our aging tender leak. The tide was also an i Catering Services for Any i Function' Large or I Yellow Cello Cafe .o' '' &' Outdoor Terrace Facing the( Wharf in baddeck!
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