People often ask me what it was like to grow up with a father who is a treasure hunter. Was it exciting? Did I ever get to see any of the artifacts he recovered?
As a child, I was very intrigued by the artifacts my dad recovered, and the stories he would tell me about his travels. I remember in particular a set of old plates and teacups from a wreck nicknamed the “Porcelain Wreck”. They were old, white porcelain dinnerware items with a lovely blue pattern on their surface. Since I was a bit too young to completely understand the details behind the shipwreck they came from, I found myself inventing details in my imagination when I looked at those plates. Since they had blue designs, I pictured them being used by the fictional pirate Bluebeard. While the Porcelain Wreck was actually a French wreck and had no relation to Bluebeard or pirates of any type, it was easy to let my imagination run away with me.
Each artifact in my father’s collection had a story and its own unique history. There were nails used to build old Clipper ships, silver doubloons, and small slivers of emeralds. As a child, you don’t think so much about the value of these objects. Your main interest lies in their beauty and the excitement that they manage to conjure in your mind. When I was young, the way my dad talked about these artifacts helped make them seem even more intriguing. His joy was apparent whenever he would talk about them and tell me the history of them. Never have I seen so clearly the love of someone for what they are doing then when my dad would talk about some new wreck with some new wonderful thing on it. In a world where monotony can become common, it is truly inspiring to see someone who genuinely loves something. It is with that passion that my dad was able to carry on, through all of the hardships and dead ends.
From my childhood, the other thing I remember is when my dad would go away. Treasure hunting requires one to travel, and this meant that my father would often be required to leave home, for anywhere from a week to a month or so. This was difficult, but luckily I had my mom, who filled my life with enough love to make the time pass faster. When my dad would come home, with his stories of faraway places and the mysteries of the ocean, I would feel like he was bringing all of that intrigue and excitement home to me. And while I missed him tremendously, that was the best gift I could think of. I would have chosen my dad and his love over rubies and emeralds, any day.
(Photo above – my dad and I reunited after his return trip to Haiti, November 1988. I was a little over a year old.)