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Posts Tagged ‘Deep Sea Diver’

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I received the following from my friend Eric the Old Sailor/Pirate. I assume it is an email from a friend of Eric’s reminiscing about the old days when they were young and could bring down mountains:

 

Hey doc-tor I downloaded Skype just for you, you part man part sea creature MOFO. I’ve been telling Adoracion about some of the outrageous things you’ve done like fixing the bottom of cruise ship in port or placing eleven ton jacks to inter lock — I mean I watched that mountain come down. I would sit on the deck of a friends house on the side of the other mountain across from all the work Had good binocs. Without them those trucks looked like toys going back and forth but get up close to them and the tires would be twice my height maybe more. The chant among our gang was “What’s Eric do???” and every one’s answer was “I don’t know”
I know a little about you and family having had dinner with your cousins in Bermuda I asked them “What does Eric do” and they said,”I don’t know.” I think we agreed Eric was a Pirate.
We are going on vacation May 4th. Atlanta, Knoxville Las Vegas Home Adoracion has a filipina friends so if it’s sitting in the kitchen listening to the ladies yaking away in tagalog, I’ll have to figure out how to take a short trip. Bobby’s gone, Louisa can hardly talk and there’s no one else there. SST same way, Sylvia is busy with her boyfriend. I don’t feel comfortable driving on the highways, I can drive around the neighborhood, go to the store etc., but uneasy on busy highway.
We are alright. carry on roller bag and small back pack. that’s it, I told A, “We ain’t tourist honey — travelers, buy there or mail it back.”
I’m not as excited as I’d like to be. I alway’s got excited about going anywhere. Pretty nice here. but I think once you get on the road it get’s interesting. We are visiting a friend in Tennessee with a ranch and flys his plane off the back forty
So it just dawned on me that Sukavit sits on water so it’s like you’re on a very big boat. Just the once I was there it rained hard and I saw big fish swimming in the street. So Amigo, it’s time to have a cookie, YEAH YEAH!

 

Eric sailed ships across oceans, built things beneath the waves, searched for treasure at the bottom of the sea, salvaged ships, traded in gold and illegal substances, explored the world and ended up in a small room in Southeast Asia with his stories and his memories. It has been a life well lived.

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One morning as I lay on a lounge chair by the pool, the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver and perhaps Pirate stopped by to chat. He takes Aikido lessons at the health club and also enjoys steam baths there. He keeps the ashes of two friends in cigar boxes in his locker. Periodically, as they requested, he scatters their ashes in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute throughout South East Asia.

He reminisced about his life as a deep sea salvage diver and treasure hunter in the American Virgin Islands during the sixties and seventies.

Inspired by the movie Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he left his life of petty crime in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a government program to train underwater salvage and construction specialists.

After a few years, he found himself living in the Virgin Islands. Along with about four or five others. They made up an itinerant band of underwater salvage and construction workers — sort of a wet monkey-wrench gang without the social consciousness. He worked on the underwater construction of the St Thomas Airport, and also on pipelines, gas lines, petroleum structures, in-situ aquariums and the like.

With his VW bus loaded with ten Scuba air containers, ten truck tire inner-tubes, and a two-way radio, he prowled the island on behalf of the Coast Guard or various insurance companies lifting sunken boats using the inflated inner tubes or searching for saleable salvage.

At one time, he and his friends competed with Mel Fischer to locate the Atocha, a sunken Spanish galleon reputed to contain a massive hord of gold in its hold. They searched near Marathon Island while Fischer explored the area between Key West and Tortuga. The old sailor and his happy band found cannons and anchors, bottles and bones, but Fischer found the gold.

For a while, he and his friends supported themselves by securing the hawsers over the bollards when the cruise ships arrived in port every morning  and releasing them when they sailed in the evening. They also searched the bottom of the sea for salvage, mostly anchors that they sold to boat owners and bottles they sold through consignment shops.  He told me that blue bottles from the 19th Century and earlier were the most valuable and had been destined for apothecaries and usually held poisons.

At times, he also worked as a sailor, boat builder, and sailmaker. At one time he found work crewing for two years on the Colgate heirs family yacht, a 150-200 ft three-masted schooner named the Lorelei Lee. But mostly, he caroused until he decided to travel around the Pacific (Including a stint in the merchant marine delivering supplies to the American troops in Viet Nam), often living the delightful life of a beach bum and eventually ending up in Bangkok in a single room of a downtrodden hotel where his walls are covered with wonderful photographs of his life and where he keeps a running list of friends who have died.

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