Always a journalist and writer, Wendy Tucker was already working for two Nebraska newspapers, the McCook Daily Gazette and the Fremont Guide and Tribune, while still in high school and continuing into college. After graduating from the University of Nebraska School of Journalism—where she served as the university’s Daily Nebraskan news editor and also completed a summer internship in New Mexico at The Albuquerque Tribune—Tucker, raised in the Cornhusker State, worked as a Miami Herald intern before moving to New York City and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She received a master’s degree with High Honors from that institution. Tucker then worked as a reporter and photographer, again for the Herald, and eventually became that newspaper’s Boca Raton (Florida) bureau chief. She later served as a reporter in Charleston, South Carolina, at the News and Courier, then moved in the early 1970s with her Navy husband to Key West, Florida, joining the staff of the Key West Citizen as a reporter and photographer. She rose to assistant managing editor of the Citizen. Tucker was also a correspondent for United Press International (UPI), the Associated Press (AP), and Reuters, and broke the wire service news internationally of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha discovery in 1985. She then worked for the City of Key West, ultimately in an assistant city planner role, before her retirement in the early 1990s. Meeting Mel Fisher in summer 1964 during her Herald internship, and again later in Key West, Wendy became a close friend of the family; she conducted and transcribed more than one hundred hours of interviews with Mel Fisher, now collected in this book and using the late adventurer’s own words. Tucker worked closely with the Fisher family to provide in-depth color to his life and their collective experience.
Praise for TODAY’S THE DAY! AND WENDY TUCKER
In the masterful oral history tradition of Studs Terkel, where the interviewer is deceptively quiescent and unobtrusive, journalist Wendy Tucker brings to the page the fully realized life story of Mel Fisher. Today’s the Day! is Mel Fisher’s memoir, in his own straightforward and unfailingly fair and optimistic words. It is many things on many levels: a humbling and touching read, a testimonial to the resilient fabric of the human spirit, a paean to family and friendship and loyalty, and a sweet, joyous, and ultimately rocky ride into the heart of the hunt for treasure, both tangible and divine. It is a headlong plunge into a world where the magical and unforeseen are a given. And the quest is not just for any treasure, but for one so immense in its historical value alone, and so seemingly out of reach, that only someone who had truly felt and heard its faint but still clear heartbeat across the centuries could heed and honor as his life’s work. That man was Mel Fisher, and it would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that he was born to find the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha and her sister ship Santa Margarita, lost to a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622. Mel Fisher was a modern-day alchemist who understood on a very primal level the mysteries of the alchemy of old and the spiritual concept behind the transmutation of base metals into gold. In his own words he proclaimed that gold never tarnishes, gold never stops, gold just keeps going and going from man to woman and woman to man, and on and on and on. Gold was not a god to Mel, but rather a touchstone that shone a light onto his life’s path. When Mel states that it was never about the money in his quest for the Atocha, we believe him, because there is no greed evident in these pages, no avarice, no meanness of spirit. There is instead a rare and certain purity of heart that shows itself throughout the book, but most poignantly when Mel talks about how he felt as he held relics from the galleons that sank in 1622—a shard of olive jar, a piece of jewelry, a cross with tiny gold nails piercing the body of Christ. He wonders what those who drowned in the hurricane that took the Atocha were feeling, to what demon they had borne witness as the sky opened up, how much they must have suffered. And there is great empathy that comes across in his words, which are reverent, spoken almost to himself, as if he had known each man or woman or child who had been lost. And who’s to say he didn’t? Joseph Campbell might call Mel’s a hero’s journey. This reader disagrees. I believe Mel would call it simply a journey—certainly one filled with adventure and fun and romance, as he often states in the book. But one suspects that is at times a catchphrase to mask what Mel would like to keep to himself: that he was bound by destiny to this journey before he was born, and that he knew it. He said that there is nothing that can compare to seeing the ocean floor covered in gold. His alchemist compatriots of the Middle Ages would have agreed with him, and they well may have knelt in prayer at that very sight. If you are able—just for a moment or two—to suspend all belief in the simply rational and instead believe in magic, transmutation, destiny—whatever one chooses to call it—then one can entertain the notion that a certain precise alignment of stars in Indiana at the exact moment of Mel’s birth foretold what was to come. There are “coincidences” aplenty in Mel’s journey in Today’s the Day! And who is to say this is just one Mel forgot to mention?
—Lorian Hemingway is the author of three critically acclaimed books: Walking into the River, Walk on Water, and A World Turned Over (Simon and Schuster). She was nominated for the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Fiction for her novel Walking into the River. Her work has also appeared in GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Westchester Magazine, and numerous other publications. She is the only woman to have received The Conch Republic Prize for Literature—other recipients include Russell Banks, John Updike, James Dickey, and Harry Crews—for her dedication to encouraging the work of new writers of fiction.
Author of Black Sails 1715 and also author of Goat with the Glass Eye
Book Titles: Man Overboard and also Uncharted Waters: The Life and Times of Captain Fizz
Captain Carl Fismer is a world famous Treasure Diver, Cancer Survivor, World Traveler, Author and Dynamic Motivational Keynote Speaker. With over 30 years of treasure search and salvage experience, Captain Carl Fismer is one of the most respected and knowledgeable diving professionals in the world. Carl has worked with some of the leaders in treasure hunting including respected Treasure Historian Jack Haskins and World Famous Mel Fisher. His area of expertise is shipwrecks... especially Spanish shipwrecks. "Fizz”, as he is known to friends, has worked on over 300 shipwreck expeditions all around the world.
Treasure of the Atocha
Almost fifty years ago Duncan Mathewson began his archaeological research with Mel Fisher on the Spanish galleons of the 1622 Tierra Firme fleet lost. This pioneering work on Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita has led to a number of important bench marks in the development of Marine Archaeology as a science in American waters and the formulation of a successful model for public-private sector partnerships in the location, excavation, and preservation of historic shipwrecks around the world. In 1960, Mathewson received his BA degree in Geology with a minor in Anthropology from Dartmouth College. He then went to Britain where he studied European Prehistory in Scotland with Professor Stuart Piggott at the University of Edinburgh. In 1962, he was accepted at the Institute of Archaeology in the University of London where he began doctoral research in Environmental Archaeology with Dr. Frederick Zeuner.
Before signing on as a consultant with Treasure Salvors Inc. in 1973, Mathewson had been conducting land excavations and archaeological surveys from 1964 to 1972 on prehistoric and Iron Age sites in West Africa and 16th and 17th century Spanish and English colonial sites in Jamaica. After living outside the United States for 13 years, Mathewson resumed his graduate school education in America with Dr. William Sears at Florida Atlantic University where he completed his MA degree in Anthropology in 1977. His thesis focused on multiply working hypotheses and a theoretical archaeological model explaining how Atocha sank, and how it progressively disintegrated over twelve miles along the seabed. Mathewson’s archaeological MA thesis on the Atocha artifact scatter pattern provided for the first time, a clear understanding of how a wooden hull vessel breaks up in a shallow water high energy coral reef environment. Not only did this research on the Atocha site completely change the way shallow water historic shipwrecks would be interpreted in the future, it also led to Mathewson’s “Deep Water Theory” which accurately predicted where the primary cultural deposits with all its treasure cargo would eventually be discovered by Mel Fisher’s crew eight years later on July 20, 1985. As a response to increasing demands for copies of his Atocha thesis, Mathewson formed a publishing company, Seafarers Heritage Library, to publish it with his partner, William J. Ryan in Woodstock, Vermont and Key West, Florida. Since it was first published in 1982, the Atocha thesis has gone through different printings and is still available today from Mathewson’s
501©3 organization, the National Center for Shipwreck Research Ltd.
Once the Atocha “Mother Lode” was located, Mathewson focused his attention throughout 1985-86 on developing archaeological procedures with divers and consulting specialists hired to assist with excavating cargo deposits and all types of artifacts along with the lower hull structure before they were logged into the conservation laboratory developed to maintain the integrity of thousands of unique finds. In 1988, Mathewson developed a teaching program in Marine Archaeology at the Florida Keys Community College where the Atocha timbers had been placed to preserve them in the anaerobic environment of the dive training lagoon.
In 1993, Mathewson turned his attention to getting his Ph.D. in Education at the Miami campus of the Union Institute & University. His dissertation focused on his Atocha theoretical model and how it could be adapted as an interdisciplinary “hook” to teach students about Maritime History and Archaeology, as well as core disciplines such as Math, Science and Language Arts in a middle school curriculum module, “If Shipwrecks Could Talk”. In 1997, Delta Education Inc. published it for distribution in their science educational series for schools throughout the United States.
The publication of Mathewson’s “Treasure of the Atocha” in 1986 by Pisces Books and E.P. Dutton in association with Seafarers Heritage Library immediately sold out as did the British edition published in London by Sedgwick & Jackson. A Spanish edition, “El Tesoro del Atocha”, published in Barcelona in 1988 by Plaza & Jamés, also became quickly out of print in the European market. Over the years, a edition was continually printed by three different American publishers in five different runs to meet the public demand throughout the country. Over the years, the Atocha book remained a best seller with close to 100,000 copies sold world-wide. Mathewson is now preparing a sequel to his Atocha book to bring the archaeological story of the 1622 galleons up-to-date in time for the 400th year commemoration in Key West of the lost treasure galleons over4-6 September 2022.
In 2018, Duncan retired as a university professor to devote more time for his on-going archaeological research on the 1622 galleons. He lives on Little Torch Key with his wife Arlene with a rescue iguana, three cats, two tortoises, a turtle and their three grown-up kids – Rachael, Duncan (“R.D.”) and Eric who continue to call the Florida Keys their home.
Treasure Coins of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha & the Santa Margarita;” A Contemporary Review of Potosi and Lima Mint Coins and Assayer History from the Mint Openings up to 1622
Carol Tedesco has worked on various shipwreck projects in the Caribbean, South and Central America, the U.S., the Pacific and Africa. While she has worn many hats, including search and recovery diver, photographer, project planner, researcher/writer, and publicist, she is an expert in Spanish Colonial numismatics.
Examples of her work in this field include grading and certifying thousands of coins from the Isla del Muerto shipwreck off of Ecuador with Robcar, S.A.; advising the Republic of Mozambique, Africa, regarding a division of treasures requiring a neutral expert; consulting for Odyssey Marine Exploration regarding the coins of the "Black Swan" shipwreck; consulting for Odyssey Marine Exploration and Arqueonautas Worldwide for the coins of the 1622 Portuguese carrack Sao Jose; and curating and certifying thousands of coins recovered from Panama's 1631 shipwreck San Jose. Carol has also studied and is considered an expert on the coins of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita.
Carol is a founding member of the International Conventions of Historians and Numismatists, launched in 2016 in Potosi, Bolivia, and serve as the organization's Vice President for the U.S. States, with presentations given at Potosi 2016, Arequipa 2018, NUMISCOL 2019, and Cartagena 2021.
Her books specific to shipwreck recovered coins include: Treasure Coins of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha & the Santa Margarita;” A Contemporary Review of Potosi and Lima Mint Coins and Assayer History from the Mint Openings up to 1622 ; and The Deep-Sea Tortugas Shipwreck, Florida: The Silver Coins” (chapter 6 in the Oceans Odyssey 3 compendium of scientific papers on the Dry Tortugas deep-water wreck).
Coins of the Lost Galleons
Captain Kathryn (KT) Budde-Jones joined Mel Fisher’s Golden Crew as a diver in 1981 and was there for the finding of the Atocha Main Pile. She has been involved in the archaeological recovery of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the Santa Margarita and the 1715 Plate Fleets and has participated in all aspects of the operation including ship’s engineer, first mate, artifact recovery and mapping, as well as artifact conservation and Spanish Colonial Coin research. KT has shared the knowledge she accumulated in her thousands of hours of diving through her development and participation in the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society’s Archaeological Diving program and the Florida Keys Community College’s Research Diving certification program.
KT Budde-Jones is the author of “Coins of the Lost Galleons” an informative booklet on the Spanish Colonial coins of the New World. "Coins of the Lost Galleons" explains the unique markings of the hand-man Spanish Colonial Cob Coins giving readers a basic understanding of the history each unique coin has to share.
Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon
Captain Syd Jones was one of Mel Fisher’s “Golden Crew” who searched for and recovered the Spanish galleons, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita.
Syd Jones started out as a diver in 1979 and was there for both the finding of the Santa Margarita and Atocha Main Piles. Syd was a captain of several Fisher's salvage vessels, developing mapping techniques for recording the many artifacts recovered as well as working in the conservation labs preserving the artifacts’ history, eventually becoming the operations manager of the company in later years. Syd was part of the daily workings of Mel Fisher’s famous salvage company for almost two decades. Syd and his wife KT ( also a diver) worked in the ‘trenches’, day after day searching for and finding millions of dollars of Spanish colonial treasure that sank in 1622 as well as the 1715 Fleet shipwrecks.
Syd Jones is the author of "Atocha Treasure Adventures; Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon”, his personal account of the day-to-day operations looking for and finding $500,000,000.00 worth of Treasure as part of Mel Fisher’s Golden Crew. Syd’s account of life on the treasure hunting boats is a first hand account of all the highs and lows of looking for sunken treasure with original charts of the Atocha and Margarita site as it developed as well as never before seen photos.
Syd and KT have taken their love of history to a "higher plane" and now work restoring and flying WWII bombers and fighters; sharing aviation history though programs, museums and airshows around the country.
A Treasured Life & Oh Treasure Where Art Thou
As a testament to his long diving career, Randy Lathrop holds certifications with the Professional Association Of Diving Instructors a an Open Water Instructor, and with the National Association Of Cave Diving as a Cave Diver. He's also a certified YMCA Cave Diver.
He holds a USCG 100 Ton Captain's license, and along the way, earned an Associate Science Degree in Industrial Photography. He is a National Speleological Society Cave Diving Certified Recovery Specialist and earned certifications from Scuba Schools International as an Advanced Open Water Instructor.
He has worked as a commercial diver for Quest Exploration, East Coast Research, Aqua-Tech, Circle Bar Salvage, Nomad Treasure Seekers, Cob Coin Company, Freedom Marine, Treasure Salvors, Casper Colosimo an· Sons, and Shipwrecks Inc.
As a professional photographer, he has photo credits in the Wall Street Journal, at NBC News, ABC News, the Smithsonian Magazine, Florida Sportsman Magazine, Sport Diver, Florida Today, the Washington Post, and Weather.com, to name a few. As a videographer he has had video on Inside Edition, Deep Sea Detectives, and numerous news agencies.
In 2021 Randy published his first book, My Treasured Life and in 2022 will publish his second book, Oh Treasure Where Art Thou.
For Love and Treasure
Lee’s passion for treasure hunting began in second grade. Walking home from school with a friend, they passed through the woods only to discover off the side of the trail a very large X on the ground. Certain that it was buried treasure, they ran home, got their shovels, and dug until it was dinner time. Stashing the shovels nearby and swearing each other to secrecy, they planned to return the next day. School couldn’t end fast enough and afterwards they were racing back to the woods where they dug and dug, to no avail. Finally, they could dig no deeper and decided someone else must have already found this treasure.
As the years passed, Lee became accustomed to overhearing, “of course Lee found it.” Not once but twice, Lee had found her dad’s wedding band out in the grass following his changing the oil in the family car. Money would often appear as Lee walked down the sidewalk. She found at least half a dozen wallets over the years. While at a benefit dinner, Lee leaned over and found a bundle of cash, put it on the table, and her sister just rolled her eyes.
In the late 1960’s, as a young adult, Lee built a dredge with parts from a local hardware store and floated it on Styrofoam. She spent many long weekends at the Jersey shore dredging in hopes of finding treasure.
In 1975 Lee became certified as a Scuba diver and the instructor asked, “Who wants to go treasure hunting?” In an instant Lee’s hand was up. This began two years of research followed by a makeshift note guaranteeing a % of whatever they found for a minimum of $1,000 investment. With a budget of $10,000, Lee and her instructor departed for the coastal waters of Ecuador in search of the lost treasure of Sir Francis Drakes off of Isla de la Plata.
As a Chiropractor in private practice, Lee could schedule the month of January to treasure hunt. As fate would have it, Lee’s neighbor Nadine, had a sister, Dolores ‘Deo’ Fisher, who was a treasure hunter and introduced Lee to her. Over many years, Lee consulted with Deo and her successful treasure hunting husband, Mel Fisher, who was searching for the Atocha. At the time Lee did not know she was talking with her future in laws.
On her 9th expedition to Ecuador, Lee rented a magnetometer from the Fisher’s, and they sent their son Kim along with diver Dick Klaudt to Ecuador to operate it. And as they say, the rest is history, or in this case-in, the book, For Love and Treasure.
Today, Lee continues to participate with the Mel Fisher Family companies as a partner and executive. With Mel Fisher as a father-in-law, the adventures never ended, and with Deo for a mother-in-law, the Love of family and friends was always exemplified. Today’s The Day!
Lee Fisher now resides in Palm Beach, Florida and enjoys scuba diving, art, and exploring new adventures.
Margaret Weller and her husband, the late Bob “Frogfoot” Weller dove together, side by side, salvaging treasures from shipwrecks for decades in Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean. They worked together seeking and finding a prodigious amount of artifacts and treasures —initially from the 1733 Spanish silver fleet galleons in the Florida Keys and later from the 1715 Spanish silver fleet which gave Florida’s ‘Treasure Coast’ its name. Bob wrote numerous articles and eight books about their adventures together finding sunken treasure. Galleon Alley chronicles their adventures on the 1733 Fleet shipwrecks.