One For The Thumb
August 27, 2011
One For The Thumb
On our final full day in Sicily, I once again joined the crew aboard the R/V Hercules as they headed out to explore the ocean floor around Trapani in search of more objects. Having brought up two rams, four rams and a number of amphorae just this season, it had already been a very successful season, yet there were still a couple of days left in the time we had allotted here, so back out we went to keep looking in the general area. Kathy choose to take the final day to relax a little, do some shopping and some exploration of her own as she checked out the city of Trapani.
Jim, Michael & Jeff
Matteo & Cecilia
The Hercules can literally go days searching the sea floor, checking out targets detected by the multibeam sonar with the ROV or just exploring areas where there is a good probability that items may be found as in the case here. The high number of items recovered in the area suggested that there is more to find and sure enough, with-in minutes of dropping the ROV, amphora began to appear on the video screens.
It is such a cool moment when the ROV first comes upon an object the sense of wonder and the thought that no human has seen the thing for over 2000 years is pretty cool, We were incredibly fortunate to make another astounding find, another large, intact ram – the fifth one we have discovered and the third just this season. To think about how significant this is, you must realize that only a total of eleven rams have been recovered from the sea floor and RPM has pulled up five of them- no one else has more than one.
I am getting slightly ahead of myself because finding the ram is really only half the battle, recovering it is what is truly significant. The things are very heavy, made of bronze and difficult to lift. We had no Italian Coast Guard divers available, so we had to use the ROV’s robotic arms to gently slide a large strap under the ram, then delicately tie the strap in a sinch and lower a cable with the winch and attempt to attach it and raise the ram with the winch. It is an incredibly delicate operation, yet George and our ROV driver Woody were masterful and with-in four hours of first seeing the ram, it was emerging from the sea and gently being lowered onto the back deck.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a saying when they were going for their fifth Super Bowl title, “One For the Thumb” in reference to their championship rings and our crew felt much the same way about discovering our fifth ram. It was a cool moment and one that I was thrilled and proud to witness. We have a great staff and crew and they work tirelessly for months, long days away from family and friends and this is the payoff. Congrats to everyone at RPM Nautical.
We headed to shore after retrieving the ram, the excited Italian Coast Guard commander waiting to greet us and to see the ram for himself. The discovery is also a proud moment for our Italian hosts and the joy that they get from seeing the successful recovery is great to see as well. Kathy also met us at the dock, just in time for a final fantastic meal from Chef Elliot and to join in the happy celebration of the crew. Though their happiness in finding the ram could be equaled in their joy that the season is almost over and they will soon be able to see friends and family.
For our final night out, we celebrated at the barrel bar with most of the crew, tipping back a few celebratory libations and saying goodbye after what has been a really enjoyable and enlightening experience.
Kathy, Wayne, Phil, Edwin & Megan