Pirate Hunters

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lakediver
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Pirate Hunters

Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:56 pm

Just finished Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson which involves the search for a legendary pirate ship by John Chatterton of Shadow Divers fame. I found it to be an excellent read and it rekindled my desire to revisit some older works such as Always Another Adventure, Still More Adventures, and Port Royal Rediscovered by Robert F. Marx. I recall The Treasure Galleons by Dave Horner was excellent along with the classic The Treasure Diver's Guide by John s. Potter were fuel for many armchair adventures. Does anyone have any favorite books to recommend on the topic of treasure hunting and diving adventurers now that autumn and winter are just around the corner?

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Britmarine
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Re: Pirate Hunters

Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:00 am

Thank you for those title recommendations, just what is needed as the summer winds down and the evenings grow longer. When I saw the topic of treasure I immediately went to the bookcase accommodating my diving literature and took down one of the volumes:
Image
Jane & Barney Crile (1954) Treasure Diving Holidays. London: Collins.

According to Stephen W. Collins' NAUI International Bibliography Down to the Sea with Books, the Criles' tome was also published in the USA in 1954 by Viking Press of New York.

I own a first-edition copy of the UK version, bought at a used bookstore somewhere for the princely sum of £3. The book is subtitled "The Adventures of a Family under the Sea." My copy still has its paper cover, which is just as well because the inner flaps contain several pragraphs designed to whet the reader's appetite:

WILL DESCENDANTS OF CAPT. ASHBY UTTING, commanding the man of war H.M.S. Loo, wrecked off the coast of Florida in 1974, KINDLY COMMUNICATE with the advertiser, who would like information on the wreck.

This unusual advertisement appeared recently in the Personal Column of a London newspaper. Behind it lie two remarkable stories, the story of a British man-of-war that was wrecked 210 years ago in the course of operations on the Spanish Main, and that of an American surgeon and his family who discovered it on the ocean bed while pursuing their favourite hobby of underwater swimming.

Dr. and Mrs Crile's underwater adventures began in the bathtub where they first practised holding their breath under the surface. Then came a home-made diving hood in which they all but drowned one another. Next they tried "skin diving"; with no more equipment than "wings of rubber on our feet, and over our eyes and nose a plate of glass" they entered a new world and began to explore the secrets of the sea.

Soon their children were old enough to join them. They had been concerned that children today were becoming too dependent on the organisation of city life. To teach them self-reliance and ingenuity, they took them back to the sea, our natural heritage. Family holidays became family adventures.

Each summer found the children a year older, stronger and able to explore the ocean bed at greater depths. From the pursuit of fish and the study of life beneath the sea, they were swept into the vortex of a new enthusiasm, the search for sunken treasure. They caught gold fever. They were to learn not only the technique but the philosophy of treasure-hunting. Treasures were not just gold and silver, but all the homely little articles that conjured up the life of centuries past. They found great tusks of ivory from a slave ship, and cannon from a British man-of-war that had sailed for George II against the Spaniards. They found the feeding bowls of the slaves, fragments of delfware made in Bristol, wine bottles from the Rhine, muskets and cannon balls; and from one lump of coral came a rare and perfectly preserved Queen Anne pewter teapot. "We never knew what we would find next." To the thrill of discovery was added the challenge of identification and the tantalising pursuit of the clues that might solve these mysteries of the sea.

They found delight, and frequently danger too; above all, they found adventure in a world in which the average family too seldom meets it at first hand. And from their adventures grew a new self-reliance and a family solidarity. "Diving united us in adventures shared; it gave purpose to our fun."

So there's the book's "blurb." As a retired educator, I particularly enjoy reading in this book how underwater swimming equipped just with a mask and fins can feed young people's imagination, stimulate curiosity, lead to more autonomy and above all, be great fun. Treasure does not need to be about precious metals but can be just about simple artefacts like kitchen utensils that support our study of the past. It's all a world away from complicated modern diving techniques and technology and all the better for that in our overengineered new millennium.

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lakediver
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Re: Pirate Hunters

Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:47 am

Thanks for the recommendation and insightful review. I am definately going to try to find this book. I also agree that many adventures can be had using simple or modest equipment. For example, the night sky can be explored with simple binoculars, great images can be taken with simple or modest cameras (some of my other hobbies). We all need to enjoy life with what we have. We all probably need to step back somewhat from our technological devices and stop and smell the roses. I always enjoy your viewpoints from the other side of the pond.

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lakediver
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Re: Pirate Hunters

Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:23 am

I found multiple copies of Treasure Diving Holidays on Amazon. Placed an order for one and can't wait to read it. Smartphones can be useful.

crimediver
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Re: Pirate Hunters

Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:40 pm

I read Treasure Hunting Holidays when I was about 12 or 13. I snorkeled a lot around the navy base where I lived in the Philippines. I remember that the family all had a big scary face painted on their backsides of the dive suits. It was believed it would scare off any sharks sneaking in from behind, Taking a page from the book I painted a pair of cut-off paints I wore with a scary face full of teeth and it made me feel a lot safer. Looking back on it I am sure no lurking shark would have been frightened as I was snorkeling and my rear end was not visible. But it kept the gulls away I am sure.
I also bought Pirate Hunter recently and enjoyed it as well. I think all divers are secretly hoping to find sunken treasure. I sure do.

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