Dad and me in 1996

In writing this blog, I have learned a lot about my family’s history and the way a business is formed. While I grew up with the company, I didn’t always understand the weight of what my parents were doing or the logistics of how it got done. Of course as an adult, my perspective is broader than it was when I was a child. I look back now and see things I missed back then, or wasn’t looking for at all. It’s easy now to see the hard work that went into the company, and the sacrifices that were made in order to establish the business. What do I remember? Aside from my dad traveling and some of the stories and artifacts he would bring home, I mostly remember how people reacted to my dad being a treasure hunter!

My dad has been treasure “hunting” for almost as long as I can remember. He found his first silver bar several years before I was born, and would go on small dive trips when I was a toddler. When I was 6 years old, my dad began working as a salvager full-time. I have no memory of his career before that, when he made swimming pools. I recall my dad being very interested in exploring, always. He would take me for walks and we would pick up rocks and look for bugs and strange creatures. We would often get intro trouble with some of these creatures, whether he was throwing rocks at wasp’s nests or when we accidentally entered the territory of a Brahman bull in Florida, and it charged at us! My dad had to scoop me up and carry me off to safety a number of times. We had a number of less adrenaline-charged adventures too. We’d go gold panning in the rivers, or to visit the quarries. These were the early outlets that my dad had for treasure hunting, and I can remember how fun it was to find rocks and treasures in the water.

At the age of 6, I don’t really recall how other family members reacted to the news that my parents were dropping everything and starting a treasure research and salvage company. My mom explains that everyone was a little surprised, but it didn’t come as a total shock. Like I said, my dad had been pretty overtaken by the worlds of treasure and diving for a decade. She thinks that some people thought they were crazy. After all, many men and women would choose a lucrative, secure business over such a financial risk without hesitation. My mom says: “It didn’t take them too long to get ‘on board’ with us, so to speak, because they knew what determined businesspeople we were.  They also knew that we were responsible, so I believe, they trusted in us to figure it out and make a go of it.  Friends may have thought it was a bit of a flighty idea, but were fascinated at the same time.”

Almost everyone is fascinated by it, and that is something I remember most clearly from my childhood. When you grow up around something, no matter how exciting it is, it takes on a sense of normalcy because it’s what your parents do and you get used to it. I guess that’s why I would be a bit confused when other kids wouldn’t believe me that my dad was working on a shipwreck in Haiti, or when they would want to know absolutely everything about the treasure or if pirates were real. “Is your dad a pirate?” is one of the more common questions. My teachers were captivated, too. They would ask to meet my dad and tell me how they saw him on the news. Parent-teacher conferences were thrilling for the teachers, and they would always be glad when my dad would come in so they could spend the whole half hour finding out what was new in his business. (After a quick reassurance that “yes, Ashley is doing well. Now tell us what’s hidden in that wreck!”)

As I aged, so did the type of comments I would receive. I still hear many questions from my peers, but now they wonder if I work on the boat or plan to inherit the company someday. Many people ask if they can work on the boat or speak to my dad about getting a job. The point is, people are still talking about it! It’s still exciting and different and everyone loves to learn as much as they can. As I grow older, I can see things more from the other perspective. While I am used to the business, I don’t take it for granted. It’s beyond interesting – it’s absolutely enthralling to me, and I hope that my excitement comes through when I tell you these stories.

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