The Jolly Roger flying from the bow of the Schmitt family ship is a telling sign of what these modern buccaneers are after: Spanish gold.
Instead of flintlocks and cutlasses, however, the Schmitts use maps and computers and bring lots of patience to bear in their quest for booty. The gold they seek – and sometimes find – is on the bottom of the ocean, the bounty of 17th-century Spanish treasure ships that sank in storms off the coast of Florida. Their slow, meticulous work often pays off: in June the family found hundreds of gold coins with an estimated value of US$1 million. It came from a convoy of 11 Spanish treasure ships that sank in a violent storm off the Florida coast in 1715.