According to the Scotsman the prevailing theory among those who have taken time to study the subject is that an Armada vessel found refuge in the sheltered waters of Tobermory Harbour after the defeat of the 1588. Many claim it was the Almirante di Florencia, one of the treasure ships of the Armada. Often known simply as the Florencia, or the Florida, she would have been laden with the most fabulous Spanish gold and treasure. Others say the vessel was the San Juan de Sicilia (or San Juan de Baptista), with plenty troops on board but little in the way of treasure.
The story goes that either Maclean of Duart or an emissary acting on his behalf (possibly an undercover agent from the English government) boarded the galleon and ignited its powder store causing a huge explosion which sunk not only the boat and the sailors on board – but also the treasure. Over the years some – but very few – valuable artefacts have been recovered. The story among locals is that the galleon has simply sunk into the silt at the seabed.
There are three wrecks within sight of Ardnacross. The nearest is the “Hispania”, a Swedish registered 640 ton merchant ship built in Antwerp, Holland in 1912.
On the 17th December, 1954, the “Hispania” was en-route to Varberg, Sweden from Liverpool with a mixed cargo. In poor weather the vessel navigated north through the Sound only to ground on a reef, the Sgeir Mhor, surviving this grounding but taking on water and with an increasing list eventually sank. 21 crew survived, the captain was last seen going down with his ship. The wreck remains fairly intact, and although it is gradually disintegrating with time, it remains one of Scotland’s finest wreck dives.
The “Shuna” was another Swedish vessel seeking shelter in the relative calm of the Sound of Mull during bad weather on a voyage from Glasgow to Gothenburg with a cargo of coal. Late in the evening of 8th May 1913 in driving rain and poor visibility she was momentarily grounded in the southern part of the Sound. The captain opted to try to make port in Tobermory, but the vessel began to take on water, to the point that she was run ashore on the Morvern coast north of Lochaline. The “Shuna” was battered by the raging waters, with some crew despatched to get help the others made shore before the “Shuna” eventually sank.
The “Rondo” was a 2300 ton late World War I construction vessel in the USA and had passed through a few shipping companies post war. On a northerly transit through the Sound in a gale and snowstorm during January 1935 she was forced to shelter in Aros Bay. She was high in the water as her hold was empty on a voyage to pick up cargo in Oslo. The ferocity of the weather in the bay caused the anchor chain to break and now drifting with the crew unable to fight the weather she grounded on Eileanan Glasa. The vessel ran up the rock and was fast but stable. The crew survived for a couple of weeks during attempted salvage, however, this may have made her still lighter and possibly caused her to slide off the rocks into deep water. Thus the Sound claimed another vessel.