Saturday, 28 April 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E16


We dive down DMT in the Money Pit to find out what that obstruction os, discuss the jewel and then take a good hard look at what to make out of the finds this season.

What I thought

Finally, we’ve made it to the, umm, final. This is the end of the season in terms of the TV series and the work that the gang are conducting on the island in 2017 before the harsh Canadian winter returns.
First up, there’s a meeting in the War Room with most of the main gang in there, and Marty/Craig on the videoconference, to discuss the broach and jewel find from last episode.  Gary, the metal detecting master, gives the result of his visit to a gem expert who says the “jewel” is a rhodonite garnet and about 4 to 5 hundred old stone. In case you’re like me, saying “what?”, this is a semi-precious stone that’s been used in decorative items since back to the Egyptians. So, it’s not a treasure, but it is pretty old … oh, and it looks pretty! Marty, bizarrely, asks a very sensible question - “how do you date a stone?” - upon which the answer via Gary is that it’s based on observations of the cuts on the stone as they are handmade. It’s also set in silver with copper leaching out, which also helped date it to a time when they used lots more copper than they do these days in silver items. I didn’t know they used any copper in silver items, but this is an education I guess.

Next day we’re back in the Money Pit where diver Mike Huntley arrives with all his gear. The water in DMT has been treated with “flocculent” which clings to anything moving about in the water and makes them settle at the bottom. Effectively this is clearing the water. Did they not use this in previous dives? Would have been useful you’d think. Or would it have? More on that in a moment. Mike is hooked up in a Robocop diving suit with lots of helpers and paramedics around as he dives to 77ft to find out what that obstruction is. Rick and a few others are in the dive’s crew compartment with Craig on skype also watching in. Mike is lowered by a bowsen’s chair slowly down until he gets into the water. Oh uh. Seems that treatment didn’t help with visibility! Mike gets off chair and is making his way down in near crap visibility. Unfortunately, that treatment has made the bottom like a jelly, so he aborts as he can’t stay on the floor. Up he comes from the first dive. On the second dive he’s had more weights added to his suit to help. Mike confirms there’s something down there, of which he believes it’s a metal plate. Jack high fives everyone on the entire island and starts jumping about like Tigger. Mike is asked to get samples, which can’t be that easy to do but he’s got a knife. Seems he didn’t actually get anything much from the metal if we go by what they say about his sample finds. He did at least say he reckoned it was 8 inches, although I don’t know if he meant width or height there. A third dive is planned but it’s not Mike this time as he’s had his daily limit and thus the backup diver is going down to get better samples. He’s also got a metal detector in one hand but it picks up no metal. A major depression hits everyone. This diver feels it with his hand and think it’s just a hard rock. A very hard rock. Yup, no metal. NO chest, or anything too exciting. Pretty much it’s what I thought, which was that it didn’t look like metal in the first place.

Next day there’s a meeting with the drilling companies, Irving and Roc, where they meet the gang and bid farewell … for now.

Some 30 minutes gone in to this episode and there’s ten minutes left, so it’s time for a big meeting with everyone involved to discuss what they’ve found this season and what comes next. Will they give up? Hell no. We basically regurgitate the big finds of the season, i.e. that cross, the 1600s coins, bones and the its-not-a-jewel jewel. Aging Dan has best view of everyone, mentioning that how much they go on depends on Rick and Marty’s money pockets and that it was the mystery of the island that first drew him to search here x number of years ago. What they’ve got all over the table, the finds of the season, is a lot of something and a lot of nothing, in my opinion. It says a lot, but it also doesn’t really say anything about any treasure on the island. However, like Dan says, there is still a mystery to be solved.

As they all depart, we’re left to wonder if they will return as no firm plans have been made for next year at this point. There’s a lot of man hugging between the gang which is heart-warming to see. They’ve certainly made significant finds this season but it’s true that none really answer the treasure mystery. I’m sure they will continue, and with a proper archaeologist on board now and Gary the metal detecting extraordinaire, I feel that with more solid help from real experts, they could really make breakthroughs.

Rating 6/10 - The season ends on a whimper in the Money Pit but the "jewel" and all the finds from this season should help keep our chins up.

The jewel turns out to be not that valuable but very old.

Mike heads down DMT to find out what the obstruction is.

And ... it's a very hard stone, not metal.

The gang gather to debate and say farewell.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E15


There's a discovery in Smith's Cove that's not quite up to THAT cross standard, a relic from the past is delivered and some real treasure (maybe) is FINALLY found!

What I thought

It’s the penultimate episode of the season. Can the team top the discovery of THAT cross? Will the Money Pit ever prove to be a worthwhile venture? Will Jack shave his beard?

We’re in the War Room having a big discussion about the Money Pit where the gang call up Mike Huntley, the diver, via a conference call about going down DMT to check out what the heck that metal structure is at the bottom. Naturally, he’s up … for going down.

At Smith’s Cove it’s time for some digging, Lagina style, as they get out their kick-ass ‘No stone unturned’ yellow JCB. Marty is driving with Jim, Charles and Rick assembled nearby. With the tide out, they start digging near to where they found THAT cross. After digging up a trench and starting to go through the spoils, they find a whole load of wood in the trench, perhaps a wooden structure. But, with the tide rising very quickly, they go further speedily and see what else is there. We’re reminded by the narrator of a previous excavation done by Dan Blankenship where they found a wooden-U-shape structure which had roman numerals carved on some of the wood at strategic locations. That excavation was cut short by a storm; this one is cut short by the tide coming in. Later in the day Rick and Charles visit Dan Blankenship to discuss his previous excavation although nothing new about his 1971 adventure can be conclusively revealed from this conclusion, but with that piece of wood they have dug up, they can get it carbon dated to see when that U-shape was likely created.

Road-trip time! Rick, Dave and Charles head North to Wolfville to meet the descendants of a man who worked with Robert Dunfield who have an artefact from the Money Pit that one of the crane operators, Harold Bishop, found back in the 60s when Dunfield tried but failed to reach and find the Chappell Shaft.  It’s a section of wood (with a modern plaque) allegedly found in the Money Pit that is thought might be part of a ship. We then have a reminder of Doug, the researcher, and his ship log translation from a few weeks ago before the gang talk about the various tests that can be done to find out the date of the wooden section’s metal nails, the actual tree and maybe the tree’s species.
A few days later, it’s a War Room meeting with John Wonnacottt, a geophysical engineer, someone who worked with Dan Blankenship on the u-shape structure 30 years ago, albeit to an inclusive verdict. The wood found in Smith’s Cove earlier is dated as 1684-1732; the Bishop wood 1646-1690. Bingo!

Yet another few days later, Rick and Gary are back in Lot 8 for metal detecting near to where last week they found the keyhole/lockplate object. First up, they find a metal button, quite small, maybe military from late 1700s. Next, it’s part of a broach. Then, just nearby the same hole, they find a jewel!! Yes, no sh*t Sherlock, a jewel!??? Hold the next season of Oak Island, we’ve found … Treasure!!!!! It’s a nice red jewel, 12 facets, in a worn unexciting circular metal casing. The metal bits aren’t very pretty or interesting, but the jewel itself is as clean, intact and beautiful as it was when it was first cut. The narrator gives us the story of Marie Antoinette and her missing crown jewels that are rumoured to have been buried on Oak Island. Pure speculation of course. The gang get really excited about the jewel, as they should, but what’s it date? It’s value? We won’t find out this episode though as those blooming credits start to roll.

Rating 7/10 - A show of discoveries, all potentially very significant. And there's TREASURE!?

When it comes to excavating, it's not worth doing without a JCB, right?

Oh man, not more blooming wood??? Well, this is 1600s wood!

Rick sniffs the wood and smells late 1600s. He's right!

It's a button ... sigh ...

It's a broach .... ohhhhh

IT'S A JEWEL!!!! OMG!!!!!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E14


There's lots of deliberation over the obstruction down DMT, speculation over THAT cross and an interesting metal detection find.

What I thought

It’s a day on from the obstruction incident and the gang are inspecting the damage to equipment and deliberating what to do next in the DMT hole.  First up, they pump out water and sludge from inside the casing.

Later in same day, Rick, Marty and Gary welcome Kathleen to the War Room. She’s an author and researcher. She’s been in the show before when she took Marty and Alex to France to show them various Knight’s templar details. That was over 3 years ago, when Alex had a ponytail and we could probably still believe that the narrator was actually not leading us up the garden path with his speculation and ability to end a show ramping us up to frenzy level before crushing us at the start of the next episode. Anyhow … they show her THAT cross, where she almost has a seizure it seems. 

She’s well impressed, as are we all. She says crosses of that type range from 11th-13th century although her view is it’s “really old”. Is she related to Gary? Lol. We’re further reminded of their meeting 3 years ago, when in France, with a Templar “grandmaster” who gives his thoughts via an email. His theory is the cross may have been worn on a necklace with other items and maybe contains gold under the lead. This means there could be more parts of the necklace in Smith’s Cove. There’s then more talk about a region in France that might be ‘New Canada’. They also show her Smith’s Cove and talk about how to cover the whole area to search for more and the logistics and technical issues in doing that.

We’re back in Money Pit where the pumping begins in DMT before we cut to Lot 8 in middle of island for more metal detecting with Gary, Rick and Marty. This is another of Fred Nolan’s plot I believe. There’s another reminder of that KEY Fred found and his maps of the island which led them to this location. First up they find a keyhole plate, the kind you’d expect on a chest. Naturally there’s a link to chest cases and the key, although it could be that it belongs to anything.

More pumping action at 74ft in DMT as Rick, Alex and one of the engineers stand on a platform at top of casing to see water being taken out. The remote camera specialist duo are called in so as to drop a HD camera down the casing – on a cord not course, not just dropping it. Doug, the researcher and Jim are lurking nearby too. Oh, and Jack. The narrator has us wondering if the obstruction is a door in the money pit or a vault. There’s really nothing to see via the camera but mud and stones. Water soon comes back into the casing, ending the viewing. Theories over where the water comes from is regurgitated to us by the narrator. Next up, they drop down a beam to probe the bottom of the casing. Even though there’s nothing tangible to see, these guys think the obstruction is metal, possibly steel.

In the War Room, it’s an emergency meeting, as it’s costing $20k a day in Money Pit with nothing happening. The decision made is to get a diver down there to determine if it is a metal structure. Cue the credits …

Rating 5/10 - An episode of chat and not a lot of action aside from a keyhole plate that sends them into speculation frenzy.

There's not a lot to see down DMT but the gang reckon that could be steel - maybe ...

Gary waves his magic metal wand and finds a keyhole.

Templar grandmaster reckons THAT cross was part of a necklace.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E13


There's a new theory on THAT cross, Rick finds a post in the swamp, there's more finds in "The Dump", and there's another problem in the Money Pit.

What I thought

We’re in the Money Pit area, where the grabber is starting to get the spoils from within the casing of the new hole, called DMT, at about 30ft depth so far. This hole is 10ft south of the previous hole, H8, in the hope to get hold of what they think is an object they moved when drilling H8 – possibly, if that’s what it was, if anything. I’m sceptical how they came to any conclusion that they made have “pushed” an object out of the way previously.

In War Room, Rick, Gary and researcher Doug are present to discuss THAT cross. They call up Xena, Warrior Princess. Ok, not her, but another researcher called Xena, the one who dragged them to France recently. She’s really impressed and excited by the cross and says she believes it’s the Goddess Tanit, which isn’t a Christian cross at all. This doesn’t rule out the Templar’s as they were known to revere this goddess too. They also tell her about the middle eastern bone fragments found in the Money Pit’s H8, which almost causes her to explode with joy. She needs a serious lie down after that.

Back into the Swamp area now, and Rick and Charles are there, following up on their new rights to access Fred Nolan’s property by draining the very north portion of the Swamp. Don’t worry, they have permission.

We’re also back in “The Dump” from last week, where pottery was found. Things have really accelerated as it’s like a real dump site now of earth and trenches everywhere. Boom! Lagina style! Gary is metal detecting with Jim and Jack. First up, he finds a decorative hinge, probably from a chest. Jim finds another hinge, it’s a rather plain one though.

Next Day, the Lagina brothers, Gary and Alex head back to the swamp which has now drained. Well, a small portion of it in the North. The guys wade through sludge and water whilst metal detecting and hacking about. Rick finds a wooden post that’s axe shaped at the end, possibly one of the survey posts used to map out the area to validate Fred Nolan’s theory that a pirate ship was sunk and hidden under the swamp.

Next day, at the money pit, they are down to 70ft now, and mostly pulling up earth. Then, OIL LEAK! The oscillator shuts down. The grabber can keep going but they reckon there’s an object blocking the path but it’s not rock. They are going to use a massive chisel piece to break up the object. Hopefully it’s not a treasure chest they are bashing. In the spills, Gary finds some of metal teeth from the casing, showing that whatever the object is they have reached in the shaft, it’s cutting off the teeth! There’s a crisis meeting, and they decide to send a camera down the casing to find out what the obstruction is. Naturally, this looks like a very good moment to speculate wildly by the narrator and end the episode with us just getting excited.

Rating 5/10 - Not a lot to report in this episode that's anything really significant.

Xena is not referring to the mobile phone.

Rick decides against using a bucket and gets in the hose.

It's a decorative hinge - or was.

Charles finds a less decorative hinge.

It's another post in the Swamp.

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E12


Tom Nolan takes over his father's island venture, sharing information, as more supported evidence comes from experts about the cross and finds from H8.

My Thoughts

In the War Room a few of the team meet to discuss that cross from Smith’s Cove with Jerry Glover, the French Templar’s expert we met a few episodes ago. He concludes that the cross is like the graffiti on the castle room walls at Domme (which the Templars made) and reveals other evidence that suggest the cross was probably 13th century but could have been worn by anyone of any class. Still, at least we have a better idea of date. Like Gary said last week: it’s an oldie.

Rick and Charles head miles NE to Waverly to meet fellow Oak Island property owner, Tom Nolan, the son of Fred Nolan. It’s a little emotional, given the situation that his dad did so much towards Oak Island but never got a real conclusion. Tom kindly agrees to do whatever is needed to help Rick and Co solve the mystery. He also shows them the maps that Fred created surveying the island over 50 years. Those maps are so full of lines and dots that you can see the work Fred put into it; Fred was very methodical in regard to these survey maps.  Then then talk about the swamp, and how Fred found what he believed were 15th century ish surveying marker posts for whatever went on in the swamp. Tom then shows them a metal key, which folds in half, that Fred found on the island. There’s also a cross in the handle part of the key. Odd. How structurally safe is that key turning a stiff lock?
Next day the two are in the house with the maps all laid out on the floor. Clearly these are photocopies of the maps as they are on white sheets and not translucent ones which we saw before. Given the lack of any supporting information, exactly what the map shows, or its scale is totally unknown and requires more work.

Later, the gang are out in Lot 21, one of Fred’s Plots, to do some metal detecting, via way of a Lagina style JCB. They are digging a trench to find what is described by Fred Nolan as a dumping site near his house. Here he found a ton of pottery years ago. There were traces of mercury found in this site, which was also found down the Money Pit. First up there are plenty of rusty nails before Jim notices a selection of pottery. Finding this amount suggests to the gang that they’ve found the dump site, although I’d say it’s early days myself. So quick to jump to conclusions this lot.

Jack and Alex are in Halifax, to meet Joe Landry, a book binding expert and his female apprentice, whom both Jack and especially Alex seem enamoured by. Joe concludes that what they found down H8 is parchment and book binding material, as well as that the coloured piece of wood (which I don’t recall seeing before) is likely “bleached” with a purple substance usually used in religious and important documents. He’s really fuelled these guys with all sorts of words they wanted to hear! If it is evidence of book down the Money Pit, it’s probably in pieces by now!

Rick and Gary head to Dan Blankenship’s house and show him the lead cross; there’s nothing new gained here though. Nor are the final few minutes which is simply watching the oscillating casing start drilling in Drake’s named hole.

Rating 6/10 - Not a lot new really in this episode that we didn't already suspect, aside from more confirmation from experts.

Rick and Jim meet Tom Nolan where they see those famous maps again.

Tom gives them a key, but to what?

Twister - Oak Island style.

Jim's eagle eyes perform amazingly here as he finds pottery.

Alex is in loooooovveeeeeeeeee.

This expert says that the parchment and binding are exactly that without any close examination.

The Curse of Oak Island S05E11


H8 produces only miniscule results, Smith's Cove produces a few more intriguing finds, and there are lots of meetings in the War Room.

My Thoughts

In War Room with lots of the gang and extras Laird and Gary talking about that cross found in the same day, primarily to show Laird who doesn’t actually say very much other than he’s not seen anything like it before. Well, other than every other cross in existence over 2000 years of course. The conclusion is to find an ancient artefact expert.

In the Money Pit, 2 days later, the casing drill is going down another 5 feet after last episode’s pause. More spills are being investigated from 150ft, with a lovely piece of pottery being discovered. Seems there was a lot of tea parties in the Money Pit in the past. Very intriguing piece as it has a decorative leaf on it. Back with the drill and it’s slipped through 10ft of nothing from 162ft to 170ft ish. Is it the chapel vault or a shaft?

Gary and Rick head back to Smith’s Cove to do more metal detecting. This time they find some sort of lead spoon handle near to where the cross was found. Interesting item, I’m not sure what it is. Minutes later they did up a long thin strip of brass, maybe from the side of a ship.

Back in Money Pit and the casing is at 168ft odd. More spoils work from 162ft and there’s some leather and bone, probably from a joint. On the whole though, they’ve found little more with the larger casing than they did from the smaller Geotech one. Everyone is disappointed although I’m not surprised as I thought their theory on it being a solid hole to drill larger was a little inconclusive.

In the War Room, it’s a big meeting time as there’s also a GeoPhysicist present who believes he has important information to help the team after he put a sensor down every of the Geotech small boreholes several weeks ago – don’t they all say that! His computer graphics shows lots of lines from going down the holes in a 3D grid with shapes at various depths in some places which depict anomalies of various strengths. Near where H8 is, there are some larger anomalies about 150-160ft deep and spread other about 7 foot wide.

Next day, another War Room meeting, this time with geologist and historian in tow. Several give their views on what to do next, with most understandably on the “let’s keep going” point of view. Craig Tester announces that he’s probably not going to come back after this season, as he’s still grieving; it must be very hard to be on the island for him. Eventually the gang decide to plough more money on another hole in the Money Pit, based once again on circumstantial evidence and a whim. Hey, it’s their money, not mine.

Rating - 6/10 - The finds help drag this episode out of the ordinary, even if they don't really add anything new to things.

Another interesting piece of pottery coming out of H8.

Smith's Cove reveals a strip of brass.

And, more lead, this time in form of a handle to a spoon perhaps.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E10


The team unearths a ship's log detailing the burial of treasure on an island eerily similar to Oak Island.

What I thought

At the Money Pit, excavation on H8 has reached 115ft. They are turning up a lot of wood from centuries of previous treasure hunters, most likely the Chappell shaft from early 1900s. The big hammer picker is being used to bring up all the spoils from within the casing as they head towards 150ft.

In War Room, researcher Doug Crowell Is back with the gang to reveal more: 6 pages of a ship’s log from a French fleet in 1700s who were on their way to battle the British and take back Nova Scotia. They failed due to sickness and weather to even begin the siege. Over 100 of them died on the crossing, including the duke in charge (who was a Larchwood). The log entry (in English??) says they decided to dig a pit on an island, of which references in the text suggest it’s in vicinity of Oak Island. Marty doubts it due to how “perfect” it is although I’m still wondering why it’s in English when it’s a French fleet?

Now that the casing is at 155ft and grabber at 150ft, Rick wants to go a little more carefully as it’s near where they believe the anomaly is that they found last week. Now, at this depth, the spoils first go to an area to be metal detected by Gary Drayton before being put on a custom-built wash table to be cleaned and searched more thoroughly. With the pressure of that water hose on the contents that Jack uses, I wouldn’t be surprised if he nukes any evidence! Gary has a few finds in the spoils; first a small metallic nail of sorts (it’s not really explained) before he comes up with a decent sized metal spike with some concrete still on it. This must be from Chappell vault as they didn’t have concrete hundreds of years ago. In the next spoils more goodies start to appear, like a pick n mix as there’s bone, pottery, bolts and glass. As the casing reaches 170ft, things grind to a halt as the chief guy controlling the equipment says that the pressure is so high he feels they are on top of something significant, although they feel it’s wood. Seems it’s not just the pressure from x millions spent that’s on everyone’s shoulders …

It’s time for a meeting to discuss what’s next which basically means they decide to keep going; didn’t see that coming did we? Rick is still worried about destroying any finds, which is sensible, although most of their methodology in the past has hardly been gentle. However, whilst the casing is given new teeth and the outer casing made permanent, Rick and Gary head to Smith’s Cove for more metal detection. Here they first find a modern bottle top before the discovery of the season so far; a lead cross!! Rick reckons it looks like the crosses etched on the wall of the castle room in France that he saw made by the Knight Templars. I see similarities, I agree. Gary reckons it’s old. Something like 1200s-1600s. It certainly looks crude and an old style. It’s got everyone excited, including me, as this appears to be a very significant find, and a fascinating one.

Rating: 8/10 – Numerous smaller finds from H8 show real promise, but the find of the cross just knocks the socks off everything else.

The grabber continues to get all the spoils from H8.

Gary does his metal magic.

Jack insures they keep the workload down by nuking any evidence in the spoils.

Gary finds a spike.

The spoils reveal more bone.

Jack relives his childhood by rolling in the mud.

Gary and Rick find a lead cross!