Living and working aboard a 220’ salvage ship takes some getting use to. Especially for someone who has never even slept on a ship or a boat before. I’ve always been pretty adaptable and this was no exception, however, let me explain some of the good and bad things about living and working aboard a ship. Of course, this is only from my point of view:
Number 1: Noise! It’s everywhere, there is no escaping it. The first noise comes from the two huge generators. The sound is a dull humming noise that is fairly loud and constant. The generators run everything on the ship from the refrigerator, freezer, electronics and the air conditioning. They can never be shut down. If you really concentrate on them you could drive yourself crazy. I had to find a way to live with it and drown them out. It was especially hard when I wanted to relax on the deck with a good book, but then again, I also wanted the freezer to run and the air conditioning to work so I found a way to make my peace.
Number 2: Privacy! There is none. Most of us share rooms (small at that) so if you hang in your room together, one of you is sitting on their bunk while the other is a foot away at the shared desk. If you were in the lounge area you can bet that someone would also be there or on their way there to either talk or watch a movie. The upstairs head (bathroom) was private but sure enough, if you took too long someone would bang on the door. Privacy and solitude is something I needed to keep me grounded and sane, so I would sneak off to the other side of the ship yard, find a little nook against a tree and read a book or just be alone with my thoughts. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Number 3: Hot or cold! The Louisiana days were long, hot and humid. We worked six days a week and much of it was outside. If I was working outside I would probably have to change my clothes at lunch. By the end of my workday I couldn’t wait to take a shower and rinse the hot gritty day off of me. But, once inside the ship, it was another story. It felt like you were walking into a freezer. The air conditioner ran constantly as it was set on cold. Inside the guys would be in tank tops and shorts. Julia and I would have sweat pants and a sweater on. We even covered the air duct in our room to help keep us warm at night. This became a constant bickering point among us. The guys won. We couldn’t find that happy medium.
Number 1: Working aboard a treasure ship! All in all, it was exciting. How many people could say they were part of a crew preparing to salvage one of the world’s richest shipwrecks. Each day brought something different and you were always learning something new. It was like a whole new world to me and I was a child soaking it all up. Greg was in negotiations with the Discovery Channel to do a documentary on our story. Life was good.
Number 2: Nine! He was the ship’s pet, a beautiful multicolored cat. I had never been a cat lover (I prefer dogs) but it didn’t take long for Nine to win me over. The story goes that one day, Dave was at a convenience store not far from the ship when he spotted a kitty wandering around. He heard that someone had thrown him out the window and left him. Dave was hesitant to take him back to the ship not knowing if it would be allowed. So he went to Greg to ask and soon found out that Greg (and his wife Kathy) love cats. The kitty was welcome aboard. We soon considered him part of the crew. Since he was the ninth member of the crew he was named, Nine. As like any kitty, he was curious, mischievous and aloof. He knew how to play us all. Greg kept treats in his room so Nine would meow outside his door until he opened it. He would then bat his eyes as if he were flirting. This always got him a treat. Alex would cuddle and pet him whenever Nine wanted to be touched. We all formed a really close bond with him. He took turns sleeping on everyone’s bunk and visiting you throughout the work day. He somehow kept us entertained and sane when we were having a bad day.
Number 3: Getting rich. Who doesn’t dream one time or another of coming into a lot of money. The Port Nicholson held billions of dollars (in today’s market) of bullion, gold and industrial diamonds. It was up to us to prepare the ship, do the hard work and whatever was necessary to be able to retrieve it. All crew members signed a contract that basically stated what was required of them and how much they would receive after expenses and investors were paid. We all stood a chance of making some serious money. Along with the excitement of being a treasure hunter, this was something we kept in our sight. We all dreamed of being rich. We talked about it often. What we would do with our share of the money. It was fun to think about. Everyone had their own individual dreams of houses, cars, vacations, etc. But,
there was one thing that we all had in common and everyone agreed on. Once we got our share of the money, we were all giving a portion to a charity of our choice. This wasn’t a requirement or expected. This was something each brought on their own. Though we were all struggling financially, each person held on to that dream of helping others. I loved this about my fellow crew mates!