The Bahamas (17) should be a veritable string of gold mines for the pirate-treasure hunter. In Nassau harbor a few years ago a girl taking part in an underwater movie spotted an iron hoop; it was part of a chest which turned out to contain doubloons to the value of more than $50,000. Could this have been part of the prize ship which Charles Vane set afire in order to scare off a fleet of blockaders? It doesn't sound like Vane to overlook that much hard cash.
An area in the Bahamas that looks promising to me is Eleuthera. It was the first settlement in the islands. Calico Jack Rackam apparently put into Harbour Island, off Eleuthera's northern tip. The 90-mile eastern beach of Eleuthera is virtually untenanted and unexcavated and is girdled by reefs on which many a pirate ship must have run aground. Start from Governor's Harbour, where there are three good hotels, one right on the beach, and you can work in both directions up and down the shore. And take along your skin-diving equipment; the reef fish are unbelievably colorful.
The entire south coast of Cuba (18) should be just as good a hunting ground as the Bahamas. Here the U.S. Navy ran the 19th century pirates to ground one by one; many of them must have hidden their plunder in hopes of getting away and coming back to it. And on one of the islands in the Jardines bank, off the south coast, Bartholomew Portuguese, a hard-luck pirate who twice lost his fortune in hurricanes, was driven aground with his richest prize.
Near the eastern end of Cuba, in Guant�namo Bay (19), there are hundreds of caves which were made to order for hiding pirate loot. Sailors from the U.S. naval base there have searched most of them, but some remain unexplored and unexploited.
Every merchantman going through the Windward Passage (20), between Cuba and what is now Haiti, ran the gantlet of the hundreds of pirates gathered on Tortuga Island, off Haiti's northwestern tip, waiting for the kill. Tortuga became one of the most famous pirate headquarters in the West Indies; it supplanted New Providence for a while after Woodes Rogers' cleanup. Tortuga should be a pirate-treasure hunter's paradise.
Not so popular a pirate gathering place but an island which attracted plenty of them was Vache Island (21), a dozen miles off Cape Tiburon, Haiti's extreme southwestern end. Approach from the east; there are almost always high winds and racing currents on the western side of the island.
All along this coast of Haiti (22) there has been less than the normal amount of pirate-treasure hunting, considering the fact that so many pirates were once sheltered there. I am told that Haiti's government does not encourage the digging up of the beaches. However, with the proper permission from the authorities, it should be a most rewarding place.
The Dominican Republic (23) does not approve of too much snooping around, either. But its coast, especially on the south, should also be rich.
One good reason is Captain Kidd again. Although he did not take a great deal of prize money north with him, there evidently was an extremely rich treasure aboard the Quedagh Merchant when he left her in the Higuey River, at the southeastern end of the Dominican Republic (then Hispaniola). With the same loyalty that most of his crew had shown during the rest of the voyage, Kidd's men hardly waited for his back to be turned before they split up the treasure, burned the Quedagh Merchant to the water's edge and scattered in every direction. They had no way of knowing whether or not Kidd would shortly come back looking for them, so a number of them may have buried their shares all along the nearby coasts as quickly as they could. The Quedagh Merchant treasure has never been recovered.
As deadly a corridor for merchantmen as the Windward Passage and the Straits of Florida was the Mona Passage (24), between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The islands on both sides of the passage should be loaded. Mona Island is reputed to have been the hiding place of more than a million dollars left there by Captain William Jennings (which could account for his patience with Woodes Rogers' cleanup of New Providence). An expedition visited Mona Island in 1939 and made a good haul. Southwest of the Passage is Lotus Island, where a pirate named Captain Flood scattered doubloons and pieces of eight about the beach in a fight over three chests of treasure. Coins are still recovered here when the tide is especially low. Some skin diving in this harbor should be worth the while.