The Dare


Mel Fishers Treasures

The Dare Mel Fishers Treasures

The Dare, Jose Nelson “Papo” Garcia

Papo Mel Fishers Treasures

In Hollywood movies, the Captain of a treasure hunting vessel is almost always an “old salt,” someone who lives for the sea and has led a life of daring and adventure. Jose Nelson “Papo” Garcia, the new captain of the Dare, is the kind of man that inspired those portrayals. A man whose love of the sea and diving for treasure.

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Papo was born in Havana, Cuba in 1966 and began diving with his father when he was 9 years old. He became a professional diver during a stint in the Cuban Navy and in 1987 began diving for the government’s national archaeological service. He developed a specialization in underwater photography and video and provided footage for a 1992 National Geographic presentation “Cuba’s Lost Treasures.” In 1992 he began serving as captain of various research vessels. His skill and knowledge led to invitations to work on underwater sites around the world including work with French treasure diver Frank Goddio on the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt and a 15th century Chinese wreck in the Philippines. He was also asked to participate in international archaeological conferences, one of which would begin the chain of events that changed his life.

Like anyone in “the business,” Papo knew about the discovery of the Atocha and had seen pictures of the treasure. Having worked on galleons of the same era he was very interested in seeing the artifacts in person. In 1997 his chance came when he was invited to a conference at Texas A&M University. After the conference he stopped in Key West to examine the Atocha treasure as well as finally meet a fellow treasure hunter whose exploits he had followed for many years - Mel Fisher. The picture he had taken with Mel on that visit is now one of his fondest possessions.

He landed in Key West on October 24th, 1999, and was a little surprised to find himself in the middle of a giant party. “I didn’t know it was just a couple of days before Fantasy Fest,” he says, referring to Key West’s version of Mardi Gras. “It was a little crazy, but a very good time to get here.” The choice of where to live and how he could apply his skill and experience in treasure hunting was easy for Papo: “Since long before I met him I had wanted to work for Mel Fisher so I stayed in Key West and lived with my brother-in-law.” In 2000 he officially joined the Mel Fisher’s Treasures team, jumping in to do whatever needed doing - boat maintenance, helping out in the conservation lab, diving whenever the opportunity arose.

On one of his first dives from the Magruder, Papo found three Atocha coins by visual search. For most of us, that would be the thrill of our lives. For Jose Nelson “Papo” Garcia, a man who chose to continue pursuing his passion for treasure hunting, it is his life, and he won’t hesitate to tell you: “I am 100% happy with it.”


The Dare

Mfg: Swiftship

Year: 1971

Reg Length: 83'-5"

Reg Breath: 21'- 7"

Reg Draft: 7'-4"

Gross Tons: 90

Power: Triple 12-71 Detroit Diesels with twin disk transmissions

Generators: Twin 3-71 30kw Detroit Diesels

Top Speed: 17 Knots

Electronics: Raymarine 10" Color Multifunction Navigational Display System with additional Depth Display Monitor


SDGPS, Chartplotter with Radar Overlay, Dual Digital Depth Sounders

Includes: 3 Anchor Mooring System with Hydraulic Winches

2 Ton Marine Crane

Aquapulse Metal Detectors

Bauer 10cfm SCUBA Air Compressor

Sleeps up to 11 people

Tender & Anchor Vessel: 17' Boston Whaler with 150HP Yamaha 4-Stroke Engine












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