Christmas Day, somewhere on the Gold Coast of Mexico….the HelmsMistress just handed me a Paloma so my motivation to write this book review is high and I’m stoked to share this info with all of you…..cause it really was a book I had trouble putting down. I read most of it over a four day period in which Tulum was stuck in Bahia Los Frailes waiting out the first large northerly of the season (in early December)….not easily able to get off the boat and most comfy just keeping an eye on things while I digested the factual nature of the adventure covered within it’s pages.
The book: Ship of Gold In The Deep Blue Sea was written by Gary Kinder and published in 1998 through Grove Press, New York. The book is a true story and based on actual facts, newspaper articles and original journals to reconstruct the last voyage, sinking and subsequent stories of survival of the SS Central America….which sank during a hurricane off the East Coast of the United States in 1857.
Skipping forward more than 100 years, the book picks up the story of the adventurer and engineer (Tommy Thompson) as he grows up, learning to process his own brilliance unconventionally through a series of incredible opportunities he’s given over the years by mentors and other engineers. I was fascinated by Tommy’s upbringing and the fact that he’s able to stay connected to his childhood friends throughout his formative years and college, giving him the ability to reach out to them when he wanted to be surrounded by a cadre of like-minded people whom he could trust and more importantly….understood his brilliance and single-track mind. After college, Tommy Thompson begins to set the stage for the eventual coup in finding AND RECOVERING the treasure on the Central America from TWO MILES down in the cold dark ocean. His brilliance is recognized by the right people and after years of working for others and researching deep ocean recovery, Tommy sets out to find investors, find the right equipment and find the Central America. The brilliance is that Tommy Thompson managed to find the right people at every stage of this adventure to carry out his plan, from the close-knit group that formed the central brain trust, the believer who would convince others to invest in Tommy’s expedition, the lawyer who would find the right judge and work tirelessly to prod the legal wheels of justice to turn and the ship captain with high morals who kept the expedition rolling on the high seas.
My book reviews don’t always go into too much detail because I want you to slow down and read the book for yourself, but obviously the Central America was found and treasure and historical items were raised from over two miles below the sea (9,000 feet), but the technology and methods to actually make this happen didn’t exist on the commercial market before Tommy and his group of engineers and scientists made them exist and made the technology for deep ocean exploration affordable at a commercial level. I WANT you to go pick up this book in hardcopy or electronically and give it a read because it’s so much fun to wonder what kind of solutions the team will find and whether they’ll be successful? You can grab the book from Amazon or you can pick it up at your local bookstore. Give it a try, I think you’ll be fascinated.
Epilogue: Imagine my surprise after reading this book then doing the Southern Crossing to Banderas Bay to find something pertinent to it as I going through my emails. I was checking them out on cell service and decided to check out the treasure hunter story embedded in Cruising Compass # 745. The story headline read, Jailed Treasure Hunter…which peaked my interest but imagine my surprise when I read that who the jailed treasure hunter actually was….Tommy Thompson. Apparently after years of legal battles (after finding and recovering the treasure of the Central America)…Tommy Thompson failed to pay back millions of dollars to his investors and 500 Gold Coins disappeared into Belize….and Tommy’s memory failed to remember where they had gone. His investors sued him and he fled the summons from the court, only to be arrested in Florida by Federal Marshalls. His criminal sentence has been delayed because he’s been found in contempt for failing to remember where the 500 gold coins are located, so he’s been held in contempt of court for the last 5 years. He says he suffers from a rare form of memory loss and his appeal to be released based on the danger faced in prison due to Covid has been denied. There….what an unexpected ending to a great story that author built up, telling us what a brilliant and visionary man Tommy was…always wanting to stretch engineering and science and convinced that he was NOT a treasure hunter. What a bummer that he decided later in life to screw over his investors by not repaying all the trust and investment put into him by that circle of affluent folks, probably destroying trust for the next engineer who comes along with a grand vision and little capital.
\Wishing you many blessings in 2021