The New Face of Silver Bars

Greg Brooks and John Hardy, 2010

John and Lois Hardy proved to be the necessary puzzle piece to continuing the treasure hunting business. My dad Greg Brooks met with John as per his wife Kathy (my mom)’s request. John and Lois were both fascinated by the business and impressed by my dad’s determination to make it work. My dad found John’s engineering knowledge and business prowess inspiring. To start out, John became a small investor in the company. He would eventually become more involved with business decisions and would invest more money. My dad then decided to make him a 50/50 partner. Their skills combined make for a team that can face more obstacles, and this was evident from the start.

The business started to come together again with the help of John Hardy. They were able to afford another ship, a Canadian fishery patrol vessel that would be dubbed “7”. It had been a couple years since Silver Bars, and my dad wanted a fresh name for the company to represent the changes they had been through and the new partnership he was undertaking. They named the newly reformed company Sub Sea Recovery.

With this new name, my dad decided he wanted a whole new crew. Captain Doug Piehl came along, as well as diver Donnie Freeman and many others. One particularly persistent Scotsman named Chris Russon continued to call my dad every week for months, asking for a job. Eventually, in February 1998, my dad agreed to hire him to live on the boat and keep watch. Chris jumped at the opportunity and flew to the USA as soon as he could. Even though my dad could only afford to give Chris room and board plus $100/week for watching the ship, Chris was excited and ready to work aboard the R/V 7.

With the newly reformed crew came new investors and new opportunities. Friends of my dad came forward to help. While he continued running the Mall of Maine, it became less of a primary focus and more of a part-time thing. With the addition of John Hardy, things had begun to come together. Never again would the business disintegrate the way it had before, all thanks to this new partnership.

At this time, my dad had an office for Sub Sea Recovery in Portland. It moved a couple of times, starting out on Fore Street and later moving to Commercial Street. I remember going here as a kid and seeing all of his treasure on display. Pieces from the Porcelain Wreck, such as beautiful teacups and plates from the 1700s, bronze spikes that used to hold wooden ships together, and a small chest of silver coins. My mom used to go to the office to answer phones and speak to visitors, and I remember sitting there and looking at all the items from beneath the sea and wondering about their past. I was excited to see what would come next for my dad, and what new discoveries he would find.

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