(This blog is about my experiences working and living aboard a 220’ treasure hunting ship, the M/V Sea Hunter)
With our ROV not working to capacity and our chief engineer’s numerous attempts to correct the problem, it was decided to fly in a representative from the company. With Daryl’s arrival, we felt hope that the problem would finally be resolved and we would soon be heading back to the wreck site to get actual images of the Port Nicholson.
For over a week, both Daryl and Brian (chief engineer) tore apart and put back together the ROV. Sometimes they used the galley table as a makeshift work area so I got to see firsthand what was happening. They would work on a specific part for hours and think they finally figured out what was causing the problem. However, each time it was tested would bring more disappointment, as it seemed everything they tried, nothing seemed to correct the problem.
It was finally decided to bite the bullet and to purchase new thrusters, but the company we purchased the ROV from had gone bankrupt and was no longer in business. Unfortunately, these are not readily available everywhere. Brian called around and finally located a company that had two spare thrusters. They were willing to sell them to us for a hefty price but stated there were no spare parts available to go along with them. From their conversation, Brian also figured there wouldn’t be much support, if any at all. We didn’t need any additional problems so he kept looking.
With the season quickly passing us by a decision had to be made. Greg and Brian would go back and forth with different ideas on ways to solve the problem. With no other options available, it was decided to purchase two brand new upgraded thrusters from a company in San Diego called Tecnadyne. We were assured from the company that these would absolutely fix the problem, guaranteed! Though these particular thrusters were WAY more expensive than what we wanted to spend, we were running out of time and options.
Once the thrusters were delivered, Brian immediately went to work to fit them onto our ROV. Again, there were numerous calls back and forth to the company with questions and instructions. With each call came more frustration, as each idea was tried and it wasn’t correcting the problem. A couple good weather windows came and went, and in this short season that wasn’t sitting well with anyone. We could not afford to miss even one.
Though the new thrusters were not working to full capacity, the weather was again perfect so it was decided to head to the site. As we prepared the ship and headed out on the ten hour trip, Brian and a couple others worked diligently on the ROV, hoping to get more “power” to it. When the ship was in position and hooked to the buoys, we all said a silent prayer that this would be the day. That we would get footage that proved we had found the wreck of the Port Nicholson.
The ROV was carefully lowered into the ocean and slowly descended to the bottom. As Kevin (ROV pilot) maneuvered it across the wreck, those of us who were watching on the monitor held our breath each time it lost power. It’s very risky when you don’t have full power, as it could get caught up on anything and lost forever, and that would be disastrous. After a few flights the ROV seemed to be getting worse. It was time to pull it out of the water and head back to port.
It’s impossible to see everything on the screen while you are in the middle of flying the ROV, so after each flight is completed, Kevin and Alex would sit in the ROV room in front of the monitor and watch each and every frame of the video. They had trained their eyes to see things others overlooked. After this particular trip was cut short due to continuing ROV problems, they set up to view the footage. It wasn’t long into the tape when they both realized they were seeing what looked to be raised letters on the side of the ship. Though it had been resting on the bottom of the ocean for over 60 years they were able to make out most of the letters. The letters spelled out what they already knew (but wanted to prove beyond a doubt) the “PORT NICHOLSON”.
For Cindy, Kevin, Greg and all the stout hearted crew of the Sea Hunter….. All the best and encouragement go out to you.
May your trials and tribulations finally thrust toward ingot treasures druring a very difficult salvage operation.
Thanks Bill, we won’t give up…we are determined this will be our season!