The Skeleton Holds Billions!
By Carol L. Allen, B.A., M.A.

In Bo Kjaer-Olsen's estimation, there are over 2000 sunken ships, from the 15th century to the early 1800's, which wrecked from the Skeleton Coast down to Cape Town, South Africa. All are laden with, specie (monies).

Olsen says that this is one of the main graveyards for treasure ships in the world as they were forced to round the Cape in the days when there was no Suez Canal. He estimates that salvageable treasure is in the billions of dollars. And who is Bo Kjaer-Olsen? A credible man with an incredible background.

Olsen was born in Denmark fifty years ago June 1. He immigrated with his parents to South Africa in 1952, was raised and schooled in Cape Town where he lived for twenty-seven years. During his boarding school days, two fathers of his schoolmates were game wardens, so he began spending the three months of summer vacation with them. Olsen went in the wardens' Jeeps, helping with anti-poaching enforcement and with ministering to sick and wounded animals (e.g. lions with abscessing teeth and elephants with festering wounds from hunters). His early adventures were mainly in the 400 by 300 miles of the Kruger National Park and the Okavango Swamps on the northern - border of Nambia (the source of the Kunini River).

Bo Kjaer-Olsen also became well known as a salvage diver and leader of salvage and exploration expeditions. Included in these were rock climbing and caving (going into deep caves for up to seven days); the caving expeditions were motivated by old stories of hidden treasure and by needed mapping of many unlogged caverns.

In 1977 Mr. Olsen left South Africa in the middle of the twenty-year war against the African National Congress. He had fallen in love with a ramp model, his first wife Maureen, who had a U.S. green card and wanted to go to Honolulu. He obtained a Visitor's Visa and joined her in Hawaii where they were married.

Beginning in the Islands as a career diver for marine tropical fish, Mr. Olsen then moved into aqua culture. For fifteen years his farm was recognized as one of the preeminent aqua culture farms in the U.S., producing prawns, talapia, white amur, Chinese carp, blue white channel cats, Chinese catfish, South American paku (tarnbaque) -all highly desirable edible fish- plus numerous tropical fish for the aquarium trade.

By 1994, Olsen was recognized as an authority in this industry. He was asked to give a commentary on the next twenty-five years of aqua culture to the Office of Technology Assessment in Washington D.C. and before the senators and the U.S. President. (For this occasion, Mr. Olsen's mother -still in Denmark- insisted that he buy a suit!) Presently, Mr. Olsen is still Advisor to Governor Ben Cayatino, of Hawaii, in aqua culture related affairs.

After a ten-year court battle in which Mr. Olsen brought suit against his landlord for the latter's termination of his water source and breach of contract, Mr. Olsen is no longer practicing aqua culture. Receiving his settlement, he moved from Hawaii to California.

Enter Antares, the steel boat that will become Mr. Olsen's right hand in his treasure expedition.

Antares is a steel boat, once registered as a bottom fisher, which Mr. Olsen saved from a hard existence. She is a Sparkman and Stevens, designed by Olaf Stevens. (Stevens is known by many for his pure wind machines; he designed at least three of the winning America's Cup boats.) Antares was built by Jacobson Boat Yards in Oyster Bay, NJ, is black iron, 70' on deck and with bowsprit, 80'. (She is documented at 63'.) Her beam is 18.6'; her draft, 7.2'. (With a hydraulic ram to lower a 4000-pound centerboard, her draft increases to 15 1/2'. )

Antares is named after the star of the Southern Hemisphere's constellation "Scorpio." Antares is important as a star site for sextant navigation. During her illustrious career, Olsen's boat has won many races including the Trans Pacific and the Sydney Hobart. "Old-timers" will recognize her for winning the Newport to Ensenada race.