Manassas Journal Messenger | Dale City man searches for sunken treasure

Ed Finck admits he is a frustrated treasure hunter.

He hasn’t yet found a shipwrecked Spanish galleon with millions of dollars worth of doubloons in it, but there’s always hope.

In the meantime, he takes what the ocean offers where he finds it.

His collection of lesser treasures includes pieces of whale backbones, 18th Century pottery, clay tobacco pipes, bottles and ships’ portholes made of brass.

And the ocean gives up all that stuff for free.

All you have to do is get certified to dive and buy diving gear that could cost a total of $500 to $600, the 44-year-old, Finck said.

Diving costs equal those of other hobbies such as golf or skiing, Finck said.

All can involve travel. Finck does a lot of his diving in the Carolinas.

Finck, a certified dive instructor, follows the Gulf Stream where the water is warm enough to dive year-round.

“You have your tropical fish all the way up to North Carolina,” said Finck, a department manager at Kmart.

“You don’t have to travel all the way to the Caribbean,” he said.

Skiing buffs travel as far or further in search of the white stuff.

“There’s always a drive involved with snow skiing because there’s not enough snow,” Finck said. “Golf gets rained out. I’ve never seen an ocean dry up.”

Diving has added value as well, Finck said.

Alert divers can always find prehistoric giant shark teeth and arrowheads they can sell at flea markets.

Finck has buckets full of 4- to 6-inch shark teeth which came from a prehistoric creature called a megalodon.

Experts estimate that each inch of an ancient tooth represents 10 feet of shark.

Divers around the world seek a 7-incher, the “Holy Grail” of megalodon remains, Finck said.

Hope remains.

Rumor has it that a pristine 7-inch tooth, with the enamel intact and no erosion, could bring $1 million.

“That’s the joke amongst divers right now,” he said.

He’s got a dive book with a life-sized picture of a 7 ¼-inch tooth.

It could happen.

“It’s out there,” Finck said.

In the meantime, the right 18th century bottle could bring $100 to $200, he said.

Lesser megalodon teeth that are in pretty good shape can go for a couple of hundred dollars. Chipped and worn teeth sell by the pound.

Even modern artifacts, such as a 10-ounce Coca-Cola bottle that’s old enough, have some value.

“These things you can sell on eBay for 10 bucks apiece, no problem. You just don’t see these any more,” Finck said of one of his Coke bottles.

But the “crown jewel” for divers is a ship’s bell from an undocumented wreck, Finck said.

Salvaging a ship’s bell from and undiscovered wreck could get someone’s name in the diving annals.

They search wrecks with underwater metal detectors and hope no one has been there before them, Finck said.

“Each ship only has one and it has the ship’s name on it,” he said of the elusive bells.

“If you can find a shipwreck that hasn’t been named or found, that’s a big thing,” he said.

So far, Finck’s claim to fame is his membership on the team that recovered a 4-foot, 200- to 300-pound ship’s bell from the Proteus, an ocean liner that sank off the coast of South Carolina in 1820.

“It was run into by the Cushion, a freight liner,” Finck said.

There are a lot more bells in the sea, Finck said.

“There are hundreds of wrecks that haven’t been found yet,” he said.

If he can’t get into the ocean, Finck will go into Lake Montclair where he finds a lot of bikes.

He said boys ride them off the docks. The bikes sink to the bottom and the boys can’t get them up.

Finck’s dive shop of choice is Diver’s Getaway in Dale City where he spends his spare time waiting for calls to go diving in search of lost car keys at Leesylvania State Park of lost hunting guns in the Potomac.

“I’ll go anytime anywhere,” Finck said.

Finck might still be looking for treasure with a metal detector when he’s old and retired, but he probably won’t be walking the beaches with a shovel and a bucket. He’ll be somewhere out there on the briny deep.

After all, hope springs eternal.

Similar Posts