A Sanford family found a great deal of gold treasure on the ocean floor off the coast of Fort Pierce over the holiday weekend.
FOX35 headed to the AARRR Booty to check out the bounty. The vessel is aptly named considering its crew, the Schmitts, just discovered a bounty of riches. They found treasure worth an estimated half a million dollars on Sunday.
"We definitely knew it was shipwreck material, for sure," said CaptainEric Schmitt.
Capt. Schmitt's first glance at the treasure left him speechless.
"I can't describe anything other than putting my head down in the sand and holding it in my hand and just wanted to sit there and hold it forever," said Capt. Schmitt.
Dad Rick, mom Lisa, and the rest of the Schmitts started treasure hunting together in 1999. Rick Schmitt began treasure hunting in the late '60s. The family owned a pest control company for 11 years and sold it in 1999. It's been all about the booty ever since.
"We're fulltime treasure salvagers," said Rick Schmitt. "We only have to work four months a year."
They spend the rest of the year in Sanford. They are subcontractors for Brent Brisben, who owns 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels LLC.
"The area the Schmitts are working is a well-known established shipwreck from 1715 treasure fleet," said Brisben. "Artifacts have been coming off of this wreck site for over 50 years."
Brisben struck gold in July. He found 51 gold coins worth $250,000.
The Schmitts found five gold coins and 60 feet of gold chain. The state has first dibs. Brisben said about 20-percent will be displayed in museums.
"What they take is the really rare and significant artifacts for display purposes to put in the museum in Tallahassee," said Brisben.
Brisben and the Schmitts will split the rest.
The Schmitts found more treasure on Tuesday, making their luck even more rare.
"If you've ever taken a look at the ocean, talk about the proverbial needle in the haystack," said Lisa Schmitt.
"Most days they find beer cans and fishing sinkers," said Brisben.
Clearly this time the Schmitt's metal detector got it right.
"A lot of what we find we can't see," said Rick Schmitt.
"They work harder than any of my other subcontractors," said Brisben. "The really cool thing about this is they've always believed that this day would come.""
It's hard work that's worth its weight in gold.
"It is not like winning the lottery," said Capt. Schmitt. "There is no chance in this. It is hard work, man."
The family considers this treasure their first big find even though Captain Schmitt found gold pieces worth $30,000 about a decade ago.
This recent discovery kicks off a season of celebration. In one month, mom and dad Schmitt will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.