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Windjammer Site (Avanti)
Photo by and courtesy of National Park Service Submerged Resources Center

Located within Dry Tortugas National Park, the Windjammer site (also known as "Steel Wreck," "Dutch Wreck" and "French Wreck") is the nickname of an iron-hulled ship-rigged sailing vessel known as the Avanti. In 1875, John Reid & Co. constructed the ship, originally named the Killean, in Port Glasgow, Scotland. The first owners of the Killean, Mackinnon, Frew & Co. sold the vessel to Antoine-Dominique Bordes & Fils of Dunkirk, France, in 1893, which promptly renamed it the Antonin after the owner's son. Although there is no historical evidence, it is safe to assume that at this time the vessel was employed in the Chilean nitrate fertilizer trade, as Bordes & Fils was one of the major participants in this industry. When Bordes & Fils purchased a larger, more economical ship in 1901, the Antonin was sold to a Norwegian company, Acties Avanti, owned by partners C. Zernichow & O. Gotaas. The new owners renamed it Avanti and sent the vessel to Pensacola where the burgeoning lumber export industry was in desperate need of transport ships to carry cargo around the Caribbean.

[photo] Diagram of Windjammer Site (click here for a larger view.)
By and courtesy of National Park Service Submerged Resources Center

The Avanti sunk on January 22, 1907, as it was transporting lumber from Pensacola to Montevideo, Uruguay. The details of the sinking of the ship are unknown, as there are no historical documents on the event. The ship is 261 feet long by 39 feet wide with three masts, two decks and cement ballast. The Avanti is in excellent condition as a result of iron's resistance to corrosion. There are two main wreckage fields with the bow section oriented east-west and the stern section aligned north-south.

The Avanti, located within Dry Tortugas National Park, rests at a depth of 22 ft. some 1,100 yards southwest of Loggerhead Key. A laminated trail guide is available for use by divers. Fish and marine fauna are highly visible at the wreck; after the vessel was discovered it was used for biological research before it was examined by underwater archeologists.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

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