Shipwreck Discovery Inspiration for Reproduction Nautical Charts

When author, John Amrhein, Jr., was hunting for the Spanish galleon, La Galga, lost on Assateague Island, Virginia, in 1750, he needed a contemporary map that would show colonial boundaries and inlets. There was no such detailed map or chart.
Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim
Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim
Sept. 19, 2011 - PRLog -- It was in 1983, after five years of research and ocean exploration, that John Amrhein, Jr., located the La Galga which had run ashore in a hurricane on September 5, 1750. When he began his research in 1978, he thought it would be a simple task to find the shipwreck. In his research he had read the captain’s letter which said La Galga was two ship lengths north of the Maryland-Virginia border sitting in shallow water. No map accurately depicted the all important boundary line. While he kept coming up empty handed in his ocean explorations, he continued his research into plats and deeds of Assateague Island and the mainland across the bay. Amrhein realized that the beach had changed and the shipwreck lay under the beach in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. At this same time, he realized that the Spanish ship that he sought was the galleon that legend says brought the wild horses to Assateague Island. This legend was described in the children’s classic, Misty of Chincoteague which was also made into a movie in 1961. Each year since the early 1900s the horses are rounded up and swum across the channel from Assateague to Chincoteague for auction. The event is attended by tens of thousands.
Amrhein soon became a believer in the legend when the great nephew of the real life character in the book, Grandpa Beebe, told him of the legendary shipwreck and the former inlet that it had locked it away for centuries. Using sophisticated electronic gear the wreck site was verified.
Amrhein realized that he had a wealth of information that could be used to create the chart that he wished had existed when he began his exhaustive treasure hunt. He created a chart of Assateague which not only showed long forgotten inlets and place names on the island but on the mainland as well. With the success of the first chart, he was compelled to research and produce a set of ten reproduction nautical charts of Colonial America which took him four years to complete.  In 2009, scientists studying Assateague were surprised at the accuracy and detail of his first chart that matched their own conclusions.
“My favorite chart,” Amrhein says, “is the one of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I located some eighteenth century surveyors’ records which gave precise measurements between some of the inlets and detailed some of the creeks and marshes behind the ocean front beach.”  
Amrhein, a long time resident of the Outer Banks, has also published two books based on his extensive archival experience. The Hidden Galleon, documents his quest and discovery of the Spanish warship, La Galga. Just released is Treasure Island: The Untold Story which not only rounds out the complete history of the 1750 fleet but documents that the events surrounding the theft of treasure at Ocracoke Inlet in 1750 would influence Robert Louis Stevenson when he wrote Treasure Island.
The Sea Chart Series can be purchased individually or as a package online at His books are available to all bookstores and can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The books are also available in ebook format. The author is available for speaking engagements.

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New Maritima Press is a publisher on non-fiction maritime history and reproduction nautical charts. The Hidden Galleon: The True Story of a Lost Spanish Ship and the Legendary Wild Horses of Assateague Island was published in 2007. This book and Treasure Island: The Untold Story documents a complete history of the 1750 fleet.
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