I have dreamed of hunting for shipwrecks and underwater treasures for a long time. This was suppressed when I moved to Las Vegas. I remember my first night there and I was checking into a hotel, somewhat inebriated, and requested a view of the ocean. The very skilled desk manager responded, “Pacific or Atlantic?”
Anyhow, now that I am back on the East Coast, I can once again follow my hobby with a renewed enthusiasm. And that brings me to the exciting news!
Recently, there has been a lot of press on treasure hunters and the shipwreck booty they have found. Just to bring you up to speed, the Nuestra Senora Atocha sank on September 6, 1622 and was found off Key West Florida. It yielded more than 100,000 Spanish silver coins. Not to be outdone, the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes was found off Portugal and yielded more than $500 million in silver and gold coins. Adding to the excitement, this April 15 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic. 1,517 people perished on that voyage. Robert Ballard led the team that discovered the site in 1985. I was not present during that find but I have seen the movie Titanic several times. To commemorate the anniversary, The National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC has put together an exciting exhibit that is running between March 29 and July 8.
Between 1600 and present day there were hundreds, if not thousands of shipwrecks located just off the coast of Long Island. Some of these are already mapped out and are routinely visited by thrill-seeking divers. And like me, most divers also harbor a fantasy of finding something of worth.
Since I don’t have a boat with side scanning sonar, a submersible or even a crew, I have to do my shipwreck treasure hunting from land. To others that might seem like a problem but I see it as an advantage. There is no competition and my research doesn’t require getting seasick or wet. Under other circumstances, I would keep my research techniques and findings secret but in this case I will need the help of Dan’s Papers Readers.
Recently, I was in a restaurant/bar picking up dinner to go. I arrived at 3:00 in the afternoon. Since they don’t start making dinner until around 4 p.m., I was forced to sit and have a few drinks. I do this on purpose. Anyhow, to my surprise, in the middle of February, located just a few stools to my left, was this old crusty seaman guy; you know the type, wearing a boatman’s hat and sporting a beard. He had “Local” written all over him. Now, I know from experience that these types can be a valuable source of information on great fishing spots and more importantly secret shipwrecks. I also know that you gotta get ‘em mighty drunk before they will give up such valuable information. So, I slid down a couple seats and had the bartender break out the strong stuff.
Somewhere around 30 minutes later, he was very drunk and I was reasonably drunk (if there is such a thing). “What do you know about shipwrecks and booty?”, I asked. “Well there’s a girl in Flanders that is a good bet for the booty,” he teased. I pressed on, “Seriously, you must know of some treasure to be had?”
Before I left the bar, I had my information. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but valuable nonetheless. Seems there was a major vessel, a tanker of sorts, that many years ago, was anchored about two miles off the eastern tip of the island. When it was pulling anchor, it became separated from the chain and the anchor sunk to the bottom. The anchor weighed more than 30,000 pounds and was made of solid brass. For a period of time anchors were made out of brass because they would not rust. The captain of the tanker, in a hurry to return to Italy and his beautiful wife, decided to abandon the anchor and retrieve it on a subsequent trip. He returned to Italy a week early and died in a brawl with his wife’s lover, never to return. However, he did mark the exact location on a map, which his first mate traded to my new bar friend in 1968, for a bottle of good whiskey.
Now I am not an expert on precious metals, but I know that when I buy something made of brass, especially doorknobs or monkeys, it is expensive, so I expect the value of this find could be significant. So here’s where you, the faithful readers, come in.
First off, I need someone who has a very strong rope approximately10,560 feet long to loan it to me. I also need someone to step forward that is a strong swimmer and can hold his or her breath for at least five minutes while tying an underwater knot. Lastly, I need as many people as possible to meet me at the farthest eastern point on the island on April 1, 2012 at 9:00 in the morning. Please bring tennis shoes and warm clothes. Tell your friends. From the beach, we are going to be engaged in a very long and exhausting tug of war with a very heavy anchor. That we have to drag it underwater for a long distance will make it all the more rewarding. Upon successful recovery of the booty, each participant will receive a certificate of appreciation.
With a good turn out and a little bit of luck I might just fulfill my dream of being a bona fide treasure hunter.
Note: Brass is currently selling for $1.40 per pound. Brass doorknobs are selling for around $60 each. Brass monkeys vary in price depending on the type of monkey.