Fisher and the Atocha
most famous quotation “Today’s the Day!” became a reality on
July 20, 1985. After 16 years of hardship and determination, he had
finally discovered the “Mother Lode” of the Nuestra
Señora de Atocha, the richest Spanish treasure galleon ever lost
in the Western Hemisphere.
17th Century represented Spain’s apex as a world power as
annual shipments of treasure from the New World financed her rise to
glory. Spain’s envied position, as the richest nation on earth,
however, would soon change.
year was 1622, only two years after the Pilgrims made landfall on
Plymouth Rock. Spain was in desperate need of treasure to satisfy the
terrible economic drain of the Thirty Years War. When this year’s
treasure fleet failed to arrive, it would mark the beginning of the
decline of the Spanish Empire.
ill-fated fleet of 20 cargo ships and eight heavily armed treasure
galleons, already six weeks behind schedule, had reluctantly embarked
upon the journey during the height of the hurricane season. They set
sail for Spain from the port of Havana with the largest and most
heavily laden ship of all, the Nuestra
Señora de Atocha guarding the rear of the fleet. Only two days
into the voyage a storm began. It grew into a hurricane of devastating
power. Eight ships, including three treasure galleons, were lost; and
the fleet limped back into Havana where the decision was made to wait
for next year while they attempted to find and recover the lost
Spanish managed to completely salvage one galleon and partially
salvage another. They also easily located the great galleon Atocha,
sunk in only 55 feet of water; but a second hurricane a week later
tore her apart, completely hiding her from view and scattering her
vast wealth of silver, gold, and jewels across the sea bottom where it
would lie untouched for over 360 years.
searched, but the watery grave of the Atocha
remained a mystery. Only Mel Fisher and his “Golden Crew” after 16
years of searching, legal battles, and the tragic loss of his son and
daughter-in-law when their salvage vessel capsized, were successful
when Mel’s youngest son Kane discovered Atocha’s
ballast pile just 27 miles west of Key West and found the ocean floor
gleaming with treasure, chests of silver coins, and 85-lb silver
ingots worth over $400 million.
piece of history today!