This July 10th-13th is the 28th annual Mel Fisher Days, celebrating one of Key West's most colorful residents and the World's greatest treasure hunter.
Imagine spending sixteen years chasing down what many people considered just a myth. Consider spending each day of those sixteen years living in Key West, Florida, exhorting your crew that "Today's the day!" while they help you chase that myth. Then, imagine one day looking left instead of right and discovering four hundred million dollars in buried treasure. Welcome to the world of internationally famous treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, and join the Key West restaurants and bars as they celebrate the 28th Annual Mel Fisher days July 10th through the 13th.
"Mel Fisher is one of those legendary people that help give Key West its fascinating history," said Norman Vogel, owner of the Roof Top Cafe, located just a half a block down from Mel Fisher's museum and across the street from Mallory Square. Now Mallory Square hosts the renowned sunset celebration that Key West, Florida is known for, but twenty eight years ago, it was where Mel and his team docked with the first load of Spanish gold, emeralds and other treasure. Word had already spread that, after sixteen years, they had finally found the treasure, so by the time they arrived, the dock was packed with hundreds of locals, including the town's resident musical poet, Jimmy Buffett.
In 1622, the Nuestra Senora de Attocha, a Spanish galleon loaded with untold millions of dollars of cargo, was lost in a hurricane off the coast of Florida. Mel Fisher, already a well-respected diver and treasure hunter by that point, started looking for that lost fortune. His positive attitude and infectious personality was summed up in his motto "Today's the day!" which are the words he would use to keep his crew motivated. Finally, on July 20th 1985, it was indeed the day, and the rest is history.
Five years later, Key West, Florida, known mostly then as the premiere spot for island vacations and now the world leader in island weddings, started hosting "Mel Fisher Days" to honor one of their own. This year, the events include a chance to meet some of the original crew and tour the boat that was their home base, a land based treasure hunt with over five thousand dollars' worth of coins to be discovered, a tour of their conservation laboratory and, this being Key West after all, a pub crawl. If you've never been to visit, maybe this is when you say "Today's the Day!"
For more information on Mel Fisher Days, please visit their website: http://www.melfisher.com/mfd/
For more information on the Roof Top Cafe, please visit their website: http://www.rooftopcafekeywest.com/
Jack Terry is a travel and leisure writer who lived in Key West for several years.