After the second trip to Haiti in 1988, my dad spent the next four years raising enough money to purchase a ship. He was still learning things about treasure recovery, and figuring out exactly what he would need to do to turn this interest into a full-time business. For these four years, he continued building swimming pools while he attempted to save up money for a ship and equipment. Pool customers ended up being a great help. One customer, Margaret, ended up making a generous donation to my dad’s cause, which helped him come up with just enough money to get a ship.
The ship he purchased came from Dominion Diving, a company in Canada. He sailed the ship back to Portland in order to fix it up. It was painted a bright teal and white and he named it the “R/V Silver Seas”, to go along with the company’s name, Silver Bars. The very first open house was held at the Maine State Pier, and the newly repainted ship debuted there in early 1993. The press began to get involved for the first time with my dad’s business – Bob Elliott from Maine’s News Channel WCSH6 did the first television news story and Clark Canfield of the Portland Press Herald penned the company’s first written news article.
At this point, it became easy to get a crew together. My dad already had a couple of friends who were interested, and because of all the news stories and publicity the rest of the crew came to him. There were about ten people altogether at the time of Silver Bars’ maiden voyage. The ship itself was a lot smaller than any of the vessels the company would later work with, but it did the job in that it allowed the early crew to set out and make a name for themselves in the business. While the R/V Silver Seas would be dwarfed in comparison to the company’s current primary research vessel, the M/V Sea Hunter, it managed to take them on their first few journeys, which I will detail in my next post. At the time, I remember my dad being very excited with his new ship, ready to go explore the ocean blue and finally bring his dream to fruition.