Next stop...Cuba !
Planning a trip back to Cuba as part of our winter getaway. Lots of interesting stuff to see - inspiration abounds!
My last visit inspired a few chapters in my book Florida Clowns, so who know what will come out of my next trip? I wonder if the two cigar smoking old biddies are still around?
The salvage team has identified 700 ships sunk in both world wars Credit: Caters News Agency
LOST AT SEA
Treasure hunters seek £300bn of gold bullion from war wrecks
TREASURE hunters will shortly set sail to search for £300 billion worth of British gold after identifying 700 war wrecks.
Extensive research over many years has identified the locations of hundreds of the 7,500 merchant ships lost in both world wars.
Gold bullion was shipped to the US and other locations for safekeeping and to pay for munitions and goods. While there is much information on which ships carried silver, the gold shipments were classified secret, meaning data on possible locations were scarce.
The salvage team, with experience of discovering German U-boats and of recovering Kursk, the Russian submarine, will deploy on their expedition in the next few days.
They have amassed 27 terabytes of data on the locations of the wrecks, including inquest documents and eyewitness accounts.
Although there was great loss of life in the merchant fleet, including evacuee children, the targeted vessels are not designated war graves, meaning salvage operations are possible.
Commemorative plaques will be placed at each location. Philip Reid, chief executive of Britannia’s Gold, the salvage company, said: “Such were the level of losses in the early years of both world wars that it became impossible for Lloyd’s to insure [the gold]. The Government had to reinsure it under the War Risk Insurance programme”.
“All the original owners have been paid and now the owner is the government under that reinsurance programme.” The International Convention on Salvage states that the salvor gets back costs and then shares equally the value of any salvaged material with the owner.
The Department for Transport, the custodian of the insurance programme, suggested to Mr Reid the Government would not take more than a 40 per cent share. However, Mr Reid said the Government’s stance was: “When you’re successful we’ll talk to you”.
Side-scan sonars and remote operated vehicles capable of functioning at 5,000 metres will be used for the sea-bed operations.
Because of the high cost of salvage, the researchers will search for the wrecks in clusters where they are close together and searches can be most economical. These groups are located predominantly in the western approaches, the Caribbean and off the west coast of Africa. The early targets will be in shallower waters.
“We are concentrating on the more accessible wrecks,” said Mr Reid, “where the research is first class, validated from every aspect and the salvage risks are not overwhelming. Two to three weeks after reaching the first site we will know if the salvage is successful. When you have your cocoa tonight, say a little prayer for us.”
Gone fishin' again
Been waiting for the rains to fill up those rivers and this week, they came with a vengeance. So off I went to pursue my second favourite hobby. Did I catch any fish? No of course not!
Okay, so you know that most authors are a bit eccentric - you didn't?! Well maybe it's just me then. So, apart from writing, I enjoy catching fish, and eating fish, and carving fish out of wood. I told you, eccentric.... Here are some samples of my work.
Not always that friendly... Out in the gulf kayak fishing when a dolphin, distracted by a big fish it had caught, nearly turfed me out of my kayak... where his cousin the shark might well have taken over....!
Much of the Inspiration for my stories comes from my own experiences, in terms of the places I travel to, and the characters I meet along the way. Naples Florida often features in my novels. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it has wonderful beaches, and just a few miles away, are the Everglades, with alligators, snakes, bears, deer, panthers and all manner of creatures.
A chance meeting in a diner in Naples Florida, formed the basis of Kerry Costello’s latest crime novel.
Says Costello; “We have a small condo in Naples, on the Gulf of Mexico, where we spend as much of the winter as possible. In 2015 I went to Mel’s Diner to get a take away meal. The place was busy so I decided to have a beer while I waited. I soon fell into conversation with an interesting looking character called Rudy. He told me he was a treasure hunter, diving for treasure-trove in sunken Spanish Galleons off the coast of Florida. At first, I thought he was some sort of fantasist, but then I checked online the next day and it didn’t take long for me to realise the guy was telling the truth.
There are literally billions of dollars’ worth of undiscovered treasure just waiting to be found a few meters deep, just off the Florida coast. Take a look on the internet and you’ll see plenty of examples. In 2015, the New York Post reported a Florida family who found $150 million in gold coins on a Spanish shipwreck. As recently as this year, there’s a report of “The largest discovery of sunken treasure in 30 years, and it's somewhere off of the Florida coast.” The estimate for this find is around $150 million.
“So I was hooked,” Costello continues. “In the back of my mind, I already had a plot planned, about Iraq, and the vast sums of cash dollars I’d heard had been squandered by the US government during the Gulf War. I decided to plan my novel’s plot around these two fascinating stories of grotesque amounts of money."
And in case you’re wondering about just how much was squandered during the war in Iraq, read this –
“In 2004, approximately $12 billion in cash - shrink wrapped bundles of untraceable US dollars (over three hundred and fifty tonnes), was shipped over to Iraq – and it vanished! Henry Waxman, a long-time critic of US involvement in Iraq was claimed to have said; “The way the cash had been handled was mind-boggling. The numbers are so large that it doesn't seem possible that they're true. Who in their right mind would send 363 tonnes of cash into a war zone?" David Pallister The Guardian 8 Feb 2007
“And so, says Costello, “I wrote my book - You Owe Me. “
Recently, I bought a kayak to use to go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. It can get a bit tricky on occasion, with big waves, or when the dolphins get a bit too ‘friendly’. More than once, the dolphins have nearly tipped me out into the sea – unintentionally I hope - although they do always seem to be laughing at me..!
Sometimes, when I’m fishing in the bay outside my Condo, a particularly lazy Osprey comes and sits on a nearby building. He sits there patiently, waiting for me to catch a fish then throw it in the water for him to eat. I say lazy, as most of the time they catch the fish themselves. But this one seems to have decided it’s easier if I catch them and he eats them!