|My old treasure hunting partner, Kevin Reilly, in 1986, may he rest in peace.|
I was informed, a few years ago, by a rather irritatingly rude archaeologist, who worked that area with Mel Fisher, that we had been...trespassing on the Marquesas. "That was ours, that was ours!!" she kept repeating to the point I almost decided to drop their memoir of treasure hunting with Mel Fisher back onto the table. As much as it pains me to say, it was an exceptionally good read! Still, I replied that she and her "group" had left piles and piles of rusted iron theodolite towers all over the islands, 27-years ago as well as most of their trash, and if it was indeed "...their's" than maybe they ought go back and clean it up! Marc Hoover knows who I mean, right Marc? It was a good read though, darn it!
|I shot this photo of one of the countless shallow shipwrecks found in the Florida Keys in 1987, no telling how old it is.|
The weather was beautiful as we left Key West, with all of us gawking as we passed the moored and famous "Bookmaker," one of Mel Fisher's blower-equipped salvage boats. This was the time of the Spanish fleet's Atocha, and only a few days before Mel's guys finally hit the main pile of treasure that went down with the doomed galleon. We were totally oblivious to all this as we sliced through the crystal blue-green waters, westbound for the uninhabited Marquesas Keys. This is a group of small islands that looks like a tasty shrimp from the air, with a central "lagoon" and separate islands surrounding it.
|Shrimp-shaped Marquesas Keys|
After several days of metal detecting and scuba diving scored us a few artifacts, I was using an original hip-mounted Teknetics 8000 Coin Computer with, I think, an 8" concentric coil, which was a pretty good setup for the time. One of the big problems with this detector was if you used it regularly in a marine environment, the mounting hardware rusted up, as it was all unprotected steel. And the rust got all over everything! I got a strong ping on one of the many uninhabited beaches and pulled up a rather worn 1841 Seated Liberty half-dime below a few inches of sand.
|My 1841 half-dime perched on the wooden railing of the Lil Aubrey|
Everyone aboard the Lil Aubrey were feeling quite free in making up stories on just how the 1841 half-dime had made its way to the island. Everything from a sailor brought a prostitute out to the semi-tropical island from Key West and when he threw his pant's over a tree branch 145-years ago, it fell out onto the sand, to a seagull picked up the then shiny coin off the 19th Century streets of Key West and accidentally dropping it as they flew over the uninhabited key.
|Enjoying fresh-caught seafood on the fantail of Lil Aubrey laying off the Marquesas Keys in 1987|
We even had a confrontation later the next day with the very same Bookmaker we had seen on the way out of Key West, who hove us over, seeing the metal detectors on board the fantail of the Lil Aubrey, to make sure we were not on their lease. We weren't but they still glared at us, not trusting us, and for good reason. There was a lot of poaching activity around the area, as it was no secret that Treasure Salvors had hit it big before, with the Margarita, and were hot on the trail of the Atocha.