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The West Indies region is often beset by hurricanes and tropical storms. Combined with the shallow waters to be found there, the result is a high incidence of shipwrecks. Especially during the age of sail, vessels of all sizes were frequently tossed onto rocky shores. Their stranded crews often perished before they could be rescued.
(Note: The most famous shipwreck here was when ten treasure-laden Spanish ships got blown onto the coast of Florida in 1715. All and sundry came from all over the region to see if they could pick up some pieces of eight in the sand. Many of those people went on to try their hand at piracy. - RL)