I could think of worse things than being able to dive in the crystal blue waters off of the Florida coast everyday looking for sunken treasure, and we found someone who does just that – and makes a living at it!
Thomas Gidus, owner of Wreckovery Salvage and Gold Coast Explorations searches for and recovers the cargo and remains of historic shipwrecks to preserve our maritime past for future generations. Recovered items are used for research and education and many are on display in museums and libraries.
We thought his story would make an excellent post for our “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession” series and so we asked if we could interview him recently. This is what we found out about Thomas:
1. Tell us a little about yourself and why you do what you do.
I am a professional historic shipwreck salvor. Using remote sensing technology, such as magnetometers and side scan sonars, along with archival historical research, we locate long lost wooden sailing ships. Then we employ methods like propwash excavation, air lifts or simple hand fanning to uncover the cargo and remains of the ships, which could be scattered across many miles of ocean bottom.
2. How did you get started in shipwreck recovery?
I was metal detecting on a beach in Ft. Pierce, Florida and was approached by a guy who said he was a treasure diver and needed a partner for his operation. He asked if I dived and if I was interested. I immediately said yes. We were subcontracting to a treasure hunter you may have heard of, the world famous Mel Fisher, on the 1715 Spanish fleet shipwrecks. We recovered some incredible emerald and gold treasure that season. That was 1991. The very next year I started my own company, Wreckovery Salvage, a combination of the words ‘wreck’ and ‘recovery.’ Since then, I have searched for and discovered dozens of shipwrecks through out Florida and in North Carolina.
3. Tell us about a typical day at the office.
I wake up late, put on swim trunks, a t-shirt and flip flops. Drive 15 minutes to get to the boat, docked behind Capt. Dom’s house. Another 15 minutes getting out through beautiful Jupiter Inlet, Florida. Then we anchor the boat, lower the blower and dig a hole. I grab a metal detector, jam a regulator in my mouth and dive down through 15 feet of warm, crystal clear water and recover the treasure, er, the archaeologically important artifacts.
4. What are your plans for the future?
I want to help Capt. Dominic Addario solve the mystery of the historic shipwreck at Jupiter inlet. 16 thousand coins have come off that wreck, 1 large silver bar and 1 small gold bar. The main pile of the ship is still missing, and we want to find it. The value is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
5. What does Rum Therapy mean to you?
Rum Therapy is a lifestyle and it is an antidote to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I moved away from the traffic and hectic lifestyle of central Florida to a beautiful, relatively quiet place in south Florida. My 1st day here, I landed at a wonderful tiki bar overlooking Jupiter inlet. That very same day, I met the love of my life, Monica. We are there at least twice a week, sipping rum & cokes and making plans for our future. She has joined me in my search for sunken treasures.
6. What is your advice for someone who really wants to make their tropical obsession their profession?
Find a beautiful place in the tropics where you would love to live and work and put all of your thoughts and energy into earning a living doing what you love to do. It might not happen right away, but with optimism, persistence and hard work, your tropical dream will come true.
7. Anything else we should know?
Visit Thomas’s website to find out more about Wreckovery Salvage and Gold Coast Explorations: http://www.wreckoverysalvage.com/index.html
Find other posts in the Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession Series