Wandering home after a beer the other night I took time out to take a few snaps and pause a while for some reflection! Seems to me my fantastic home town of Weymouth is being constantly let down by bad decisions and who knows what the future is for the harbour as the walls slowly fall into the sea. Very easy to get depressed about it all however at Deeper Dorset we fly the flag for the area and do as much as we can to help the old town. This is a fantastic place to live with a stunning history and in the past the town has risen above the plague, rebellion and the ravages of war so I am guessing one way or another Weymouth will survive, tis just sad to see the way it is now. In the meantime life goes on and when we stated at the beginning of the year that this was the year of the plane I don’t think we really had full comprehension of what was to come. With the search for the Hercules well under way as is the search for the truth we have to be careful not to be sidetracked by another story that is developing nicely in tandem, seems missing aircraft are like busses they all tend to turn up at once.
There is a saying that winners are not those that never fail but those that never quit. Well I don’t know about being a winner but certainly the latter part applies here and quitting is never going to be an option. However that doesn’t stop me having a good moan about my lot and boring you all to death as we smash up yet more equipment on the road to getting things right. We almost have our underwater camera system perfectly set up now but it just lacked a bit of durability and the sea as always finds you out. We managed to damage a cable on the camera and seven times atmospheric pressure not only sent water up the cable it also found its way into the camera. What does this mean? Well simply a new camera and a new cable but also the chance to improve the system all at a cost of three thousand dollars! We now have to wait for the parts to come from the States but meantime we will carry on with sidescan operations and most of all keep smiling no matter how much things hurt.
The two views from my office window yesterday twenty minutes apart. Warm air over a cold sea at this time of year is always an issue and thirty yards visibility is not uncommon however we are trying to take as much advantage as we can of the calm conditions right now. Doing what we do thirty miles offshore in a relatively small boat is not for the feint hearted things do and will go wrong, how you react during those times is what counts. If you make a bad decision you have to be sure your next one is your very best or you will rapidly be sliding down the slope. Yesterday all in all wasn’t a bad day we broke some gear but that is how it is out there staying safe working to the limit and not beyond it, is the order of the day. As we always say “if it was easy….”
Every time we start to think maybe we can have a little break in proceedings and think of something else for a day or so… Bang the Paul Meyer story takes another twist. Nothing new there so I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised however while most think all the efforts are concentrated on the search for the aircraft the search for what happened before during and after the flight is just as big an undertaking. In fact I have been working on that for over ten years on and off but pleased to say that now I am getting great support from others who are working tirelessly! Fair to say we are making progress on all fronts and some of our critics (yes we have a few) are now starting to go a little quiet and sit back in their armchairs. We never thought it would be easy and we were not wrong however there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from our progress which gives us continued strength as we fight on towards the truth. One polite request please don’t anyone else tell me there is a film and a book in this….Sigh. Yes we know that but unless you are going to write it, or pay for it or tell us how to go about it please keep that to yourself while we figure that side of things out. Just a reminder to folks that there is a very sad side to this story please check out the link here and scroll to 40 minutes 30 seconds.
This is Fat Albert and Simon. Fat Albert is the piece of equipment just in case there is any confusion. The initial sonar target check outs on the Hercules search will be made with Fat Albert our custom built (by us) drop camera system and as I write this Fat Albert is on the way to becoming Fat Albert 2 while we tweek and fiddle with it. The operational brief is simple, we need to know exactly where the boat is, exactly where Fat Albert is, exactly where both are relative to each other. We need video, stills and seabed mapping and it all needs to work in over 200ft of water, oh and did I mention the budget is next to zero? Fat Albert by the way was the name that the Hercules was affectionately known by amongst its crews.
Being as busy as we are at the moment it was nice to divert the thought process from the Hercules for a day. I found myself in deepest darkest Cornwall today aboard a tall ship that is looking for a new home, now wouldn’t she be nice in Weymouth? I have an idea and a plan and it is not a case of me being brave enough it is a case of if Weymouth wants a tall ship in the harbour…. Guess we will find out soon. Does look a bit wrong in this location she is afloat but looks like she is in someones garden…
This last few weeks working on the Hercules project we have had the media all over us. In most cases it has been the usual story give us exclusive access think of the coverage you will get, bla de bla, we have been there so many times over the years, even with the much appreciated funding from the Kickstarter project this is an expensive operation for us. Television is the worst culprit not only is it all for nothing you have to hang about for hours and hours so working with Emma Jane Kirby from BBC radio 4 has been a real pleasure. Not only has she followed what we are doing through the PM programme she has really helped us push along with the investigation shore side. This story deserves so much more than a quick few minutes on a magazine programme then gone never to be seen again and so far the BBC and Emma Jane have been great.
Although it is my name at the sharp end of Deeper Dorset there is absolutely no way I could do what I do on my own. On the left is Penny my wife the voice of reason and on the right is Paul IT Guru and the voice of insanity! Deeper Dorset could not function without either and there are others to introduce over time. The painting was commisioned at the start of our Kickstarter project to raise funds for the Hercules search and there is a limited print run available for sale all signed by the well known aviation artist Simon Cattlin. We will auction or raffle the painting at a later date to boost funds further but with an insurance value of 2.5K it best not stay here too long coz we tend to be a little clumsy around these parts… The painting depicts Paul Meyer and the Hercules having just reached the coast and as the title “Flying Home”.
Visibility is our problem at the moment and has frustrated us for a few days in our search for the Hercules. While we have had flat calm conditions the unseasonably warm air over a still cold sea has meant the surface visibility in the middle of the channel has been rubbish or marginal at best. Towing 600ft of cable behind the boat means we can’t just stop without wrapping everything around the propellors or sending the towfish crashing to the seabed. We are working in a very busy area of shipping and are surrounded by static fishing gear, even when visibility is good the markers are still hard to spot. However inshore it has been lovely, so lovely and bright in fact Paul was unable to read the laptop without burying himself under my coat! Whilst our search at sea is temporarily on hold the quest for further information regarding what actually happened on 23rd May 1969 has reached fever pitch, the twists and turns in this story know no bounds but slowly ever so slowly we are getting through the chaff and a picture is now emerging, all we have to do is prove it…
Yesterday marked the beginning of a new era for Deeper Dorset. This might look like a pile of old blocks (and it was) but the fact of the matter was that we had seen this area of rocks on the sidescan sonar in 65ft of water. Because of the regular shape of the rocks and the obvious straight lines it made us think we could be looking at something man made and normally we would have put a diver down to take a look. We now have the capability in no time flat to deploy cameras exactly in the right position so that we can check out the mark and within minutes we can now put this one to bed as a spurious contact. This is going to revolutionise our ability to check out sidescan targets without divers and all the faff that entails. Finding divers keen enough to take a look in the first place has always been an issue and now we don’t need to worry about it. That said we still need divers and have a small band of great guys that support us however there just aren’t enough of them so we have had to find a more productive way of checking out sonar targets.
Made a game changing decision this morning based on the realisation that finding Paul Meyer’s aircraft is only the beginning and probably the easiest part of the jigsaw to get in place. It is now necessary for me to learn in double quick time how to be a detective and combine that with my long held natural ability to work out who is lying and who is not telling all they know. This story has more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie murder mystery and over the last fifty years conspiracy theorists have had a free run with the passage of time just fueling the fire. I am very aware that if we don’t get to the bottom of this Deeper Dorset will be seen as just another also ran that got nowhere and added yet more fuel to the fire. Folks keep telling me that we will never get to the truth however those that really know me realise that is a red rag to a bull and whatever it takes I will not give up. I really do believe in this case we have a situation where truth is stranger than fiction so why do folks make up stuff? As from now I am dropping everything to work on this full time (don’t worry folks I will still honour what we have already planned) till we get a result which will put the whole story into perspective and for that we have to go well beyond what happened early one morning when the Hercules hit the water.