The Life Aquatic | Part 1 (The Treasure Divers)


SUBJECT:  Capt. Chuck Mitchell (1938-2006)

VESSEL:  Shaggy Cannon

VOCATION:  Treasure Hunter/Diver

Chuck Mitchell was early on the California diving scene through his acquaintances at Mel’s  (that is Mel Fisher’s) Aqua Shop in

Redondo Beach.  He spent a majority of his time at La Jolla Cove diving and spear fishing. In 1964, he was the Pacific Coast Diving Champ and decided to move to Florida shortly thereafter.

 Despite his western origins, Capt. Chuck was not easily overlooked as a Florida Keys character.  He possessed a style all his own and always commanded a presence.  It may have been the denim vest (with a flaming skull embroidered on the back) and shorts; always in shorts! If he could not wear shorts he was “just too far north!”.  Perhaps it was the bandana and the silver hair pulled into a ponytail and the gratuitous references to rum, punctuated by the prolific use of the term “AARRRRRRGHH”  with his unmistakable, resonating baritone voice.

Capt. Chuck was animated and colorful, opinionated and dramatic.  Often trimming his beard as the Spanish Conquistadors did during the age of the Spanish Main.  He shared his stories through verse and wrote a number of merry jigs and “Key Shanties” retelling sea stories, his experiences, describing his friends and conveying his view on any number of the enigmas of life.  Chuck served on community boards and Monroe County resident panels regarding the future of development and resource management in the Florida Keys; often to his frustration.

If you were lucky enough to get him talking about his treasure diving experiences over a few Cuba Libres, then you have heard of his hair-raising experiences aboard his vessel the Shaggy Cannon.  Friends would entice him to play his flute and Capt. Chuck would gladly oblige with a song of his own design.

Then, all there was to do was grab a drink, find a chair and listen to a pirate spin his tale of the second golden age of piracy in the Florida Keys during the 1960-1980’s.  Thanks Chuck! (arrrgggh)