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Bad Wrecker 2

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The French brig, Vigilant, grounded on the reef near Key Vacas in 1828. Fortunately for the captain, the vessel managed to be refloated without the aid of wreckers. Unfortunately, once free, the captain found himself surrounded by shallow waters and unfamiliar shoals.

Two wreckers did escort the Vigilant to Port Monroe where the master of the Vigilant was approached by Housman who said he would safely guide the brig all the way to Key West for 75 percent of the value of the vessel and her cargo. What made the ship of exceptional interest was its special cargo of $32,000 in specie, or coins.

The ship’s master agreed and upon successful navigation of the Vigilant to Key West, the ship was sold at auction and the proceeds dispersed. According to an account printed in the Pensacola Gazette dated 1828, the deal was struck between the two captains, “with an understanding that Housman would return part of the money to the Captain, for Himself.” 

The two captains were rumored to have been seen sailing north together, likely bound for Charleston. Captain Housman was not charge with a crime.