FISHER << MEL & ME
Fisher sits comfortably at the desk that was his
father’s, and fiddles with the silver coin around his
neck – the “Key West dog tag” as they have come to
Kim has been going
out on the treasure boats since he was just six years
old and living in Vero Beach. But Kim was seven when his
father returned home one day with a red towel rolled
into a tube.
‘Now, I’m going to show you all something, but you
have to keep it a secret,’” Kim says in a voice that
could easily belong to Mel. He
remembers seeing his first coins and treasure lying on
that towel. It was also the day that Kim Fisher learned
an important lesson.
“You can’t keep treasure a secret,” he
said, recalling how he and his brothers immediately ran
around telling everyone what Mel had found.
Kim found his own treasure by the time he was nine years
old. He had started diving by then, and found his first
coin “with a little help from Dad,” he said.
The pair had been
diving in a specific area looking for silver coins. Mel
knew better than Kim that the sand concealing a silver
coin turns black when it reacts with the metal.
Mel saw the
characteristic black sand and led his son to the spot to
dig. The first coin led to hundreds of others, along
with countless summer days spent on the boats diving and
planning. Summer meant treasure hunting, but the rest of
the year meant school days for Kim and his siblings.
But when the
inevitable day comes when everyone is asked what his
father does for work, Kim never hesitated to say that
Mel was a treasure hunter. And as for the other kids,
whose fathers were lawyers, salesmen or teachers,
“They thought it was pretty neat,” Kim said.
out of school and in Key West, Kim faced the challenge
of keeping treasure a secret – from his own father. It was the day
before Father’s Day in 1974, and Kim Fisher was
captain of the Southwind treasure boat. On a routine day
on a routine dive, during the not-so-routine search for
the Atocha, Kim found a gold bar and a gold disc. Kim took a small
dinghy from the Southwind to shore, and met his parents
at the Fishermen’s Café, now Harpoon Harry’s, on
reporting the find to his father via the not-so-reliable
CB system, Kim kept it a secret and instead woke before
dawn and asked his father and mother to meet him for
“I gave him the treasure over breakfast on
Father’s Day,” Kim said smiling at the memory. “He
was so happy and crying, and Mom was jumping up and
still warrants the same amount of enthusiasm in Kim
Fisher and his family. With him, the legend of his
father is alive and well, and still looking for the
second motherlode of the Atocha to finish off the
project that began when Kim was just a child.
“People tell me all the time that I look and
sound like Dad,” he said, trying to pinpoint one
difference between him and Mel. “There’s less and
less differences all the time. There are no real
differences – I learned from the best.”
Did you know Mel? Would you like your story included?