On January 2, 2023, Bill Slat of Jensen Beach, Florida became the first person to join the Society in 2023. As such, we reached out to Bill to welcome him to the organization and to find out what motivated him to join. We thought it might make an interesting story. Obviously, in this day of privacy concerns, we did not want to do any type of story without getting his permission. Well, he responded with a really great story which he has given us permission to publish. Here is Bill in his own words regarding his interest in shipwreck history and specifically what lead him to join the Society:
“Fran (my wife) and I met Mel Fisher in Key West shortly after (1-2 years) he made his major Atocha “motherlode” find in 1985. He was a very friendly, outgoing person and when we purchased a 8 Reale coin, he happily signed “Fran, Todays the Day, Mel Fisher” on the C.O.A.. Since meeting him, and reading more about the difficult trials and tribulations of his hunt for the Atocha, I could not help being impressed with the focus, tenacity, and resolve, he showed in his search for his dream! While there were many factors that helped along his Journey (such as the “legendary” Gene Lyons), it would not have come to fruition, without that unending “push” that Mel had. He never stopped where others would have folded and run. What a lesson for all about resilience!
Since learning more and more about treasure hunting, and Fran collecting more and more coins (the easier way – by purchasing, including from the 1715 plate fleet), we became exposed (mainly through Nicole, Mel’s granddaughter in Sebastian at The Mel Fisher Museum) with many of he “Who’s Who” in treasure hunting, which only accelerated my book purchasing to learn more. I found it fascinating reading and when I read books and newsletters like Robert Westrick’s Maritimes, and Ernie Richards “PLVS VLTRA” there was a wealth of information that continued my trails to other books and tales of “Treasure”!
When I first visited the 1715 Fleet Society’s website, I once again saw a wealth of information and an excellent website that has great information as well as new events and information. And, as Fran has been collecting now for well over 30 years, I am starting to see many, say “retirements” from the industry. Because of this I think it is very important to support the “history” of treasure hunting and the places that maintain the critical history and archives of this “fascinating” passion (Like the 1715 Fleet Society does). Hence, it was a natural decision to join and, help support the the wonderful documentation of a such a fascinating effort. It’s a story dreams are made of!”
Well, there you have it. We are pleased to welcome Bill to the Fleet Society as member # 177, and the first of this year.
President, 1715 Fleet Society