(This blog is about my experiences working and living aboard a 220’ treasure hunting ship, the M/V Sea Hunter)
I clearly remember the first day Nick Snyer walked into the galley of the M/V Sea Hunter. With wide eyes and a huge smile on his face he looked like a kid in a candy shop. Nick was a neighbor of Gary Esper’s, the Sea Hunter’s captain. When Gary was moving his family into their home this young man just walked up and offered to help. Over the years he watched Nick grow and mature and liked what he saw. Knowing Nick had recently graduated high school and was pursuing a career towards being a journeyman plumber, Gary thought he might be a good addition to the crew so he asked Nick what he thought. It didn’t take long for Nick to think about it before he quickly agreed.
After meeting the crew and touring the ship, he was asked to see if he could look at the ship’s septic system. It had been backing up and everything that was tried didn’t seem to work. Nick spent the entire day in the gallows of the ship doing a job most people would never want to do. At the end of the day he emerged; dirty from head to toe but with a grin on his face. He was proud to admit that he had corrected the problem. So, I thought to myself, how many young men would come aboard on their first day, be thrust into the worst job ever and come back the next day all smiles? Not many, but it didn’t take long to realize, Nick isn’t like the rest.
It’s been about three and a half years since Nick joined the crew. He has since been eager to learn anything new that would help him and the project along. He was originally hired as a deckhand, however, he has proved and is willing to be used in many other positions. General ship maintenance is one of his responsibilities. This could include anything to do with plumbing, electrical, scraping or painting. He has since taken a diving course and became certified using that skill to do many things on the M/V Sea Hunter. He has also learned to use the side scan on our other ship, the Son Worshipper. When chief engineer Brian Ryder is not able to, Nick will operate the ship’s crane. While steaming the ten hours to the Port Nicholson site you can find Nick in the wheel house alongside Capt. Esper. From day one he was eager to learn all he could in the pilothouse and is a great helmsman. This is a huge help when the captain needs another set of eyes or to rest. Once at the site and the ship is in position, Nick puts on another hat. He heads to the deck and leads the tether management team, making sure the rov works properly and doesn’t get tangled up below the ship.
Though Nick is great asset on board, I mostly enjoyed his easy going personality and of course his sense of humor. There were times (like any job) that I just wanted to pull my hair out, but Nick usually had a way of helping me past it with his witty words or his goofiness. He also enjoyed my cooking and would often complement me, especially when I baked brownies and would sneak him an extra one.
Nick couldn’t see himself doing anything else. He loves working on the ocean and especially being part of the Sub Sea Research crew. His family and friends are very proud of him and his accomplishments. I remember his mom being a bit worried when we left for Haiti. She asked us to look after him as this was his first time away from home. He was fine and actually was a tremendous help throughout the trip, especially helping me to keep my sanity at times.
His share of the money won’t be spent on expensive or frivolous things like many young men might do. Nick plans on helping his family out and investing in real estate, (Though I am sure that he will also get something wonderful for his girlfriend Jen). Nick has a good head on his shoulders and I believe will go far in life. How could he not? Did I mention he’s also a border line genius, just ask him! (That’s an inside joke).