Digital Library

Saona 1 (c. 1550)

Filipe Castro


Country: Dominican Republic

Place: Isla Catalanita

Coordinates: Lat: 18.189083; Long: -68.630281

Dated: c. 1550

Description of Wreck

Between January and July 1983, treasure hunter Burt Webber carried out a survey in the Mona Passage, between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, looking for a treasure supposedly carried by one of the vessels of the fleet of Nicolás Ovando, sunk by a hurricane in 1502.

Positions of the three shipwrecks (Turner 1994).

Among the sites found, three were particularly interesting for their artillery collection, and inspired an MA Thesis at Texas A&M University (Turner 1994).  Heavy iron objects such as wrought-iron artillery and anchors were located and Turner believes that as these sites appeared to have been unsalvaged, their guns possibly represented complete artillery collections.

Webber partially salvaged two of the sites, removing a number of guns that are very difficult to locate, if they have survived at all, but Turner recorded and published all the guns he had access to.


Site 1 was found with a magnetometer, laying in 6-7 m of water, and consisted of four versos, a long tube possibly a cerbatana, two powder chambers for the cerbatana, and two anchors.

Saona Site 1 (Turner 1994).

The treasure hunters raised the long tube, one verso and one powder chamber.


Turner, S., 1994. Saona Artillery: Implications for Inter-Island Trade and Shipboard Armaments in the First Half of the Sixteenth Century. MA Thesis, Texas A&M University.