After the first ship, the R/V Silver Seas, was fixed up and equipped with basic diving gear, sand blowers and other necessary items for treasure recovery, it was time to find a place to start searching. At this time (early 1993) there was an embargo on Haiti, meaning it would be very difficult for the ship to get in and out with ease. My dad, Greg Brooks, still had dreams of going back to Haiti for the treasure he knew to be there, but those dreams would have to wait a little longer.
After doing a bit of basic research, the crew headed out to Charleston, South Carolina to work on their first wreck together (see photo – two original crew members at the South Carolina wrecksite). This was still an adjustment period for everyone, and tensions were sometimes high on the boat. While my father tried to plan out the course of action, he and the others were adjusting to being away from home for what would be weeks or even months at a time. Many of the crew members had young children, and this was an issue my dad could understand, having a six year old daughter at home. It was hard for them to be away, and this was an issue they would deal with time and time again in this line of work.
Some people handled this type of pressure better than others. A lot of crew members couldn’t handle the long days in the hot sun, especially when the South Carolina wreck turned out to be virtually fruitless. At this point, my dad had secured a backup wreck in the Bahamas for the crew to work on. He had traveled down ahead of them to line up the deal, and when he asked them to drive the ship down to the Caribbean, many crew members flat out refused to come along, feeling like this might be another dead end and worrying that the ship wouldn’t make it such a long distance. My dad was not ready to give up. He believed in the ship and was determined to make it work. He sent all of the rogue crew members home, which is where they really wanted to be, and managed to put together another crew in no time. This job isn’t for everyone, and that was something my father was quickly learning about his crew members.
Around this time, my dad came into contact with the Mel Fisher society, headed by successful treasure hunter Mel Fisher, who had found and recovered the famous Atocha wreck eight years before (see photo at left – Dad and Mel Fisher meeting). They were working on a wreck off the coast of Key West, and my dad and his newly reformed crew stopped by to help the process, holding off on the Bahama wreck to do this project. Unfortunately, the shipwreck site was turned into a National Marine Sanctuary a couple of months later, which meant that it was not able to be disturbed legally. My dad did not want to risk being caught in a place like this so early in his career, so parted ways from this other shipwreck recovery group. At this point, my dad wanted nothing more than to go back to Haiti, so he decided to find a way to make it happen.