Pirates on Oak Island: Deep Digging

DATELINE:  Extra-curricular Episode!

Matty Blake  Matty Blake: Out in the Rain Again!

The subset of the Curse of Oak Island is a series of a half-dozen shows that look at issues around the history and research of Oak Island.

This annotated bunch of episodes, on topics like paranormal and pirate history, is hosted, not by Robert Clotworthy, but by some cheerleader named Matty Blake, a radio personality.

Someone should tell this guy he has the job. He seems overly exuberant, hugging and high-fives all around. His exaggerated excitement seems to even rankle the Lagina brothers who show up for an interview on various topics he raises—usually for the negative.

His latest show was on Oak Island pirates. He interviewed various show people, like Charles Barkhouse and Gary Drayton. They give him insights because they usually are secondary figures without any limelight. After all, this is Marty Lagina’s production. No one elbows him out of the camera.

Apart from Matty Blake’s constant cheerleading patter, he shows elements of a lack of sense. He does one segment in pouring rain at the “smelly swamp,” and boasts that it is all part of the Oak Island experience. Sounds more like a production overrun.

 

Blake does raise some interesting points, and his latest on pirates looked at everyone from Sir Francis Drake to Captain William Kidd.

We must tell you up-front that our great-aunt Belle Walters grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and with her husband, my father’s uncle John, they went there each summer from the 1920s to the 1960s. Uncle John was also a 33rd degree Mason, quite a big deal, and they firmly believed the treasure belonged to Captain Kidd. Even as a kid, we heard this theory.

Blake spent a great deal of time trying to find locals who knew who Captain William Kidd was, without much luck. How the times have changed.

He also raised the issue of Captain Anderson, another privateer of the late 1700s who actually lived on the island for a time and may have built a ramp from his land to the ocean front. Gary Drayton felt this was important—and we always pay attention to what Mr. Metal Detector Detective states.

The show always ends with the Lagina brothers throwing cold water on Blake’s theories—and he thanks them profusely. We know who signs his paycheck.

 

Dead Give Nothing Away: Lost Gold

DATELINE:  Japanese Gold of WWII

Yamashita HQ  General Yamashita’s Headquarters in Luzon.

The third episode of this intriguing series Lost Gold of World War II  is called, “Dead Giveaway,” in which you come to realize that the Japanese soldiers spent more time setting up fake treasure vaults than real ones.

Here too comes the admission that they have no idea what the treasure may be: it may not be gold. So much for truth in advertising on History Channel.

The series Lost Gold of World War II continues to be compelling, but we are not sure if History Channel will choose to re-new it for a second season. No word has filtered out yet.

The efforts to lead treasure hunters to their doom take on even more bizarre elements. From cyanide in bottles that shatter when a shovel hits them, to flood tunnels that spew forth torrents of water when breached, to now bombs under rocks that are moved carelessly.

If they went to all this trouble to dissuade, if not kill seekers of the treasure, it must be something special.

General Titicaca, oh, we mean Yamashita, apparently made his HQ in one of the remote caverns on the mountain where the hunters are excavating. He held out for almost 3 weeks after the Japanese surrender because he had unfinished business in burying treasure.

The group brings in a highly regards ordinance expert who examines the cavern where they were about to dig—and notes there are potato mashers buried here too. Hand grenades.

The dead giveaways are easy to find treasure spots that are meant to blow up the searcher.

There is real suspense here—and a sense that something may be uncovered, which gives this show a genuine chill factor. 

  

Oak Island Swings for Strike Three

DATELINE: Gold Strike Struck!

IMG_4522  Lock’em up?

The Curse of Oak Island may be a union of boring contractors. Marty enters the abandoned search area and hears only crickets (so he says). No one has a clue that trouble was brewing among the dozens of hired workers on the heavy equipment.

How obtuse can these guys be? Don’t ask or you may wonder what else they aren’t seeing. Like the forest from the trees.

As winter seems about to overwhelm autumn, the longest season of the series about gold hunters in the Nova Scotia island has reached a point of The Road Not Taken. We are ready to jump on the sleigh and head for the nearest Yule log.

Rick Lagina in this 19th seasonal episode of season six has not had a eureka moment, nor an a-ha one either.

The gold strike turns out to be a labor union problem. The workers don’t show up—and the manager sheepishly tells the Laginas that this, at minimum, will be a three-week strike. It effectively ends putting your money in the Money Pit. Wait till next year.

You mean those friendly workers never once mentioned to the Laginas that there was trouble brewing?  Well, that wasn’t too nice, though Robert Clotworthy hastens to narrate that the low-ball pay had nothing to do with Marty’s business practices.

It almost appears Alex Lagina is on strike too. He did not appear except for a short fifteen second stand at the trough. Yup, it’s cold out there.

To wrap up the next few episodes, the remaining old prospectors will strike up the band to dig at Smith’s Cove.

Once again, the only good news came from Gary Drayton and his magical metal detector. He seems to strike iron every time: he locates a lock off a treasure chest, complete with key hole. The box is long gone, but this reminder gives a little hope that something is out there.

As for the rest of Oak Island’s crew: put a lock on it.

World War II Gold: Second Episode

DATELINE: Have Drone, Will Travel!

have drone, will travel

Money is no object when a trillion bucks worth of glorious stuff is reportedly hidden in caverns beneath a thick jungle. Only modern technology can save you from the “needle in a haystack,” end of good intentions.

This week on Lost Gold of World War II, we learn that the Japanese depositors of stolen loot used various tricks to booby-trap their cache. We heard about the sarin gas bottles last week, and this week we hear how they have made flood tunnels that will drown the gold seekers. Shades of Oak Island!

And, yes, other treasure hunters met their ignominious ends through this means.

Our American heroes are not so dumb. They have found a shaft dug only 20 years earlier, but hubris leads them to think there is a concrete cap inside that leads to a subway system. Wrong.

Their ability to maneuver through the Luzon jungles is impossible except for Lidar, which arrives from a drone that does a fly-over. As the expert drones on, he claims this is digital napalm: jungle leaves will disappear on the computer, revealing roads and caves.

Bingo Minerva, the researcher back in the States, confirms much of this. Yes, Bingo Minerva may be the smartest one not to go on this treasure hunt.

He does not face unrelenting humidity, insects, and booby traps.

Facial markers are the key under the leafy canopy. They must find a large gorilla head carved into rock under a waterfall. We wouldn’t make this up, and it is why we remain intrigued.

Finding petroglyphs (like a gorilla face behind a waterfall) is historical, but these treasure hunters attribute them to Japanese soldiers.  These war-mongers are members of the Golden Lily — part of a Niponese version of the Knights Templar, complete with symbolic codes and secret rituals.

We are eager for more to come.

 

It’s Not Heavy Metal, It’s My Brother!

DATELINE: Leaden Episode

Skowronek Skowronek Saves Day!

Good grief, is this really episode 18? Summer in Nova Scotia only lasts twelve weeks.

A friend reported that every time she tunes in to the show, she thinks it’s an episode she already saw. Every week they find a coin and dig a hole, not always in that order. The Laginas always wear the same clothes, and it’s like looking at a rerun.

With summer’s end, it rains and pours more.

In case your sense of déjà vu is slipping, Robert Clotworthy will hastily repeat what he just said two minutes earlier.

This episode was three-quarters of disappointment as another hole in the ground turned out not to be the entrance to a vault of gold, or much else. Big timbers of oak and some leather teased the hunters. They have moved on because time is running out for the season.

It came down once again to Gary Drayton, called in at the last segment to perform his magic. Through some divination, he went to lot 21 which once was owned by one of the original finders of the money pit. There, he waved his metal detector and came up with a plum.

There, in two pieces, was a long strand of lead. He instantly deduced it was a match to the lead cross he found last season on the other side of the island. He also found a second piece, broken off, but fitting exactly to form a square hole. It is a duplicate of the cross.

How can he do this stuff?

They immediately called in Tobias Skowronek from Germany on the Skype. The metallurgist who looks like a minor also confirmed this lead was a duplicate from the Templar Knight mining operation in France. Stunning.

It saved the episode from wasteful time lost.

 

 

Stolen Treasure in the Philippines!

DATELINE:  Sleeping Trillion Bucks

lost gold

More gold and art treasures hidden by a rapacious Japanese general? Yes, and this time it’s somewhere on an island in the Philippines where nutcases go hand-in-hand with gold-diggers. We did not see any Laginas associated with this History channel’s latest example of a series bit by the Goldbug.

The first episode is called “Death on the Mountain.”

The optimists at History Channel are calling this Season 1. Or, perhaps they are pessimists who expect multiple season frustrations. In any case, the betting is that we will have hit the mother-lode of ratings. So, gold in the logo is running downhill like lava.

General Yamashita of the Emperor’s army buried all kinds of goodies with booby traps that only American experts can discover and disarm. Well, if that isn’t hubris, then what motivates the diggers on Oak Island?

Ostensibly, there is a trillion dollars in modern terms of loot. In the first episode, they do find a tunnel and poison gas bottles ready to crack open with a feather’s touch. Previous treasure hunters unwittingly set these off and died.

The Lost Gold of World War II  has only been missing for 75 years or so, unlike the Oak Island treasure that clocks in at 200+ years. Yet, there is clear evidence that the Luzon treasure is priceless.

The hunters of loot are Americans of different generations and races, but lifelong seekers who seem to know about something most Americans never heard of. They insist Roosevelt, Truman, and Churchill, all knew about it, as does the CIA.

They locate a “witness” named Grandpa, for the obvious reason he is ancient. He is the parallel to the late Dan Blankenship of Oak Island: Grandpa is a witness who saw the activity as a boy in the 1940s. He points to dangerous expanse that might take ten seasons to traverse, which is great if the series is a hit.

We are indeed in the territory of one proverbial needle in a haystack. The island has nearly 200 reported treasure sites.

Old film clips are nicely colorized, and there is much history here to learn, and that makes this program at least worth additional attention.

Action is fairly fast-paced initially, with modern equipment and technology enhancing the search: the cast also has a researcher at Stanford, finding old maps and matching to satellite views of the terrain.

This series looks like a goodie! We are hooked already.

 

 

 

False Clues and False Positives on Oak Island

DATELINE: Post-Dan Blankenship

muddy mass of leather

Muddy Mass of Leather Deep Underground!

For three seconds before this episode began, you had a quick notation:  “In Memory of Daniel Blankenship, 1923-2019.”

There was hardly time to do much more at this point, with Dan having passed on two days earlier. We presume that in a few weeks there shall be a full-blown biography of his extraordinary efforts for half a century to find the treasure on Oak Island.

We know that old film clips and photos document much of his work from the 1970s, and much more is likely available to illustrate his intriguing life.

This too is the longest season of episodes on record: and they are digging well past summer—and the nasty, rainy, windy weather shows up in the hunter wardrobes. It is cold off the North Atlantic.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is to see how Smith’s Cove is flat and clear of all items as they bring in lidar to find anything underneath. The coffer dam is on borrowed time, and they must excavate soon.

The scientist did note an extremely large object was buried there, under what would be the sea and possible man-made drainage systems to flood the caves of the island.

Gary Drayton again showed his insights and acumen by locating a Spanish silver coin, likely minted in the 1700s.

The dredging also showed frightening promise: another bone fragment, perhaps human, chains, and large chunks of leather. It leads some to speculate that the slaves who worked the site were chained and left to die there.

Also coming up were enormous flat, human-hewn oak timbers that Drayton noted he had seen from old galleons of yore. Dismantled wood used to make a floor or roof to a chamber?

All in all, with a few weeks left in the season, we suspect that answers again will be withheld until next season.

Can it be on the 17th episode of the sixth season, we have Revelations 17:6? “The woman was drunk with the blood of saints when John saw her.”

Pour a tall one before Rick Lagina sees you.

Eulogy for Dan Blankenship

DATELINE: An Era of Treasure Hunting Passes Away!

95-years Dan.

Can the center hold?  For Oak Island enthusiasts, the answer has shaken the earth of the small Nova Scotian island. The heart and soul of the Curse of Oak Island has gone. He was 95 and lived a life of a treasure hunting adventurer.

As Emily Dickinson once said, “Because I would not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.”

Dan Blankenship showed up now and then at age 95 on the sixth season of the hit series, still unwrapping up this season, and he was always the delight to behold. He was sharp, in seemingly amazing shape for his age, and offered perspective with gentle insights.

Yet, that was merely one surprising element of a man who was physically powerful, as old film clips show. He dug bore holes the old-fashioned way. He chased the demons of Oak Island for the glorious discovery of romantic lost treasure.

Now and then the Lagina Brothers consulted him, trotted over to show him some progress on the hunt for gold on the island where he called home. He would even drive up in a golf cart to observe the progress fifty years after he worked the area.

The season now airing on History was filmed this past summer, and Dan survived another harsh Nova Scotia winter, but he will not be present to see another spring and a seventh season.

He died on a day when Jack the Ripper’s DNA seemed to indicate the solution to that long -standing century-long mystery. He died on a day when NASA released photos of an asteroid that might hit Earth in fifty years when none of us oldsters will see the event.

Dan Blankenship did not miss finding the treasure. His spirit was the treasure, the optimistic and grand character of the human heart. Fans of the show shall miss him but he was a century of the best of mankind to grace the series, the hopes of finding a pot of gold, and enjoying life.

How the series will honor him is not yet clear, but already he gave the series and history its integrity.

‘Detour’ on Oak Island

Rare Beefcake on Oak Island

 

DATELINE:  Off Road Sites

With the season six crashing all around them, the Lagina Brothers have nowhere to go but down. Hence, they decide at this late date to make a new entrance to the Money Pit. Yeah, it’s episode 16 on Curse of Oak Island, and time is running out until next season.

If anyone is always running late on Oak Island, it is the Lagina brothers. We noticed again this week how they show up, drive up, or cavalierly drop in on a site at Smith’s cover, or at the bore holes, like they are early birds to do some work. However, there are always other members of the team already hard in labor: Laird, the archeologist, Billy on the backhoe, or Jack Begley, man of all trades.

Our two favorite treasure hunters dominated this episode:  Alex Lagina and Gary Drayton. They seldom work together. If public reaction we have measured is any indication, Gary Drayton is by far the most respected member of the series.

Gary found the seeping red dye in the previous episode while casting an eye over Smith’s Cove, and this time with his trusty metal detector, he found yet another rusty old stabbing tool, which he labelled “very, very old.”  He later found an “inge,” which in American translates to an hinge.

An old blacksmith expert noted that the spear weapons were actually crib spike, used in construction. He thought the hinge was for a heavy door, as on a church, or perhaps on a floodgate. He put it as early as 1600.

As for Alex, he is a certified diver and went looking for the weird objects seen by lidar in the previous week. One was an anchor and a mysterious object that was triangular and pointed toward the island. We had a brief shot of beefcake as he poured into his diving suit.

He also trotted along to the blacksmith to retrieve those findings.

As the summer winds down, so does the season’s episodes. We know there will be no definitive results, and we know that we will have to wait until next November to learn what they are.

 

 

 

 

Oak Island Die Hard and Dye Harder

DATELINE: Approach/Avoidance

95-years Amazing Dan Blankenship!

We are at episode 15 of the sixth season with the Curse of Oak Island, and we are still going strong. Each season is longer, and our patience is growing thinner.

Shake, rattle, and rolling, the Money Pit sink hole will be stabilized, presumably, and filled in to be able to continue boring down.

However, this week’s big info is that lidar off Oak Island may have discovered some entrances or openings under the ocean. The gang, including Alex Lagina and mysteriously returned Peter Fornetti, join Marty to hear the findings. That thread was quickly dropped to begin another dye job.

Several years ago, the brainstorm was to use green dye to see if there were drains leading to the treasure vault. Green did not mix well with water, making it impossible to see.

This time the hunters will use red dye (not sure if it’s #2, or the blend often used in Rick Lagina’s hair).

Incompetence was again blamed on the island curse when hoses tangled as water was sent into bore holes with the red dye.

To everyone’s pleasant surprise, 95-year old Dan Blankenship drove up in his golf cart to take a look at the activity. When he tried this stuff, he did it on a shoestring (figuratively). Now there are drones that has to amaze him as fly-over inspections monitor the island for red dye.

However, it is old Gary Drayton who spots a rusty color water appearing out of nowhere. Marty Lagina wants to be the kibosh, but chemical testing of the colored water indicates the dye has seeped to Smith’s Cove, proving there is a drain system to booby trap the treasure vault.

Small victories set up the final few weeks of season six.

 

Curse of Oak Island: One Big Sink Hole

DATELINE: Indefinite Suspension

fashionplateOak Island Fashionplate

Oak Island’s unsafe ground has voids and tunnels that have been compromised by diggers and flooding over at least two centuries. It seems a surprise that no one figured that a sink hole might send the entire treasure hunt and hunters down to a watery grave made by Captain Kidd.

Oak Island is one big hole in the ground, except when it comes to History Channel ratings. Then, it becomes Mt. Everest.

If the latest gaffe is unforeseen and inevitable, we might well agree with Rick Lagina that the hunt for whatever is there may be nearing completion yet again, without success.

Every generation’s technology fails until another era makes people feel that they are the champions to find the answers.

The 14th episode of season six is the “Voyage to the Bottom…” and they have not yet hit rock bottom.

Perhaps the most ridiculous moment was a nighttime visit by Rick, tethered, as he crawls into the sink hole, causing even more caving earth. They yell for him to get out: it’s not easy to move fast when you are beyond a certain age. The Chappel Vault might become Rick Lagina’s mausoleum, as he faced the prospect of becoming the seventh curse victim.

We had suggested last season that Rick throw himself down one of the shafts, and he nearly did it this time.

Other bad news was that what they thought was a piece of bone turned out to be slag (buried 170 feet where no smelting operation ever was done). Other leather parchment turned out to be tree bark. It’s pure Oak Island.

The good news for the week had to do with finding parchment or rag paper with red pigment on it: it seemed to be as early as 1300 in origin.

Also, lidar and sonar searches of the bay water around the island showed some anomalies and an anchor. Another tunnel entrance or drain system could be 100 feet off-shore. Intriguing.

Yet, we were most impressed when Alex Lagina showed up in an $800 Arc’teryx wilderness jacket. He has taste and good looks.

Oak Island: 6th Season Paranormal Episode!

 DATELINE: Curse of Oak Island Ghosts!

bone fragments  Bone Fragments Discovery.

Why has there not been more paranormal investigations on Curse of Oak Island? You could watch this episode in Season Six that is not part of the regular rotation of treasure seeking. In it, Matty Blake, the cheerleader and annotator for the Lagina brothers, takes charge.

In the final few moments of the show, the Laginas listen to electronic voice recordings made at locations—and they resoundingly dismiss it. Yet, they were the ones who found bone fragments from two different 18th century men buried 170 feet below the surface. Talk about haunting.

There is no onerous voice of Robert Clotworthy on this show, but the over-exuberant Blake is in charge. He talks to the two Blankenships about their ghostly encounters. Son Dave Blankenship relates having seen a black mass at different times on the island. It floats around ominously, and others have also recounted it.

Many reports center on a large hound with red eyes that seemingly roams the island at night. It is right out of some Conan Doyle story.

One of the intriguing details focused on an early researcher, Nolan, who never spent a night on the island, leaving at dusk.

A paranormal expert from New York, Brian Cano, visits the swamp area and various bore holes where they do record noises, including an echo from deep within one drill spot. What was it?

Mysterious lights and other phenomenon might be better suited for other TV reality shows like Ghost Hunters, or UFO Files. There are many reports of mysterious lights and people who disappear, like alien abductions.

If there is a curse, rejected outright by the Laginas (who nonetheless use the notion to sell their show), it strongly indicates paranormal or UFO activity.

We admit our prejudice on this level, since having moved into a haunted house, we have experienced too much to reject what we once laughed at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oak Island: Paper Chase #13

DATELINE: Parchment & Pigment

Dem bones Human Bonehead?

No, Professor Kingsfield is not lecturing this week, but the “Paper Chase” is definitely on as the 13th episode of season six.

Instead of Kingsfield, here is another dry academic, Randall Sullivan who has written a tie-in book about Oak Island the highly rated, History channel, cable series. He is allowed to shill his research on the show and is praised to high heaven for the Laginas.

No one claims the Laginas are silent partners, but pushing the book is lucrative (out of stock on Amazon), and published by Atlantic Press, no slouches.

Cheapskate Sullivan brings two copies of the book to the crew at Oak Island, letting partner Craig Tester sit there with egg on his face.

As for the findings of the week, big news includes a cement wall in Smith’s Cove, another piece of a dead man’s bone (likely one of Captain Kidd’s dead men not telling tales) from the bore hole, and parchment with red pigment on it. If Shakespeare’s original manuscripts are down there, they are soggy remnants of treasure.

On the positive side, 95-year old Dan Blankenship makes an appearance—and Alex Lagina has been reduced to chauffeuring author Sullivan around.

When Dan Henskee finds the bone fragment, credit is given to Jack Begley instead. Oh, well, being old is not always a good thing for original searchers like Henskee.

We still await carbon dating (suggested by Dan Blankenship) on parchment, wood from Smith’s Cove and other expert analysis of tokens and iron arrow shafts. Francis Bacon seems to be emerging as the culprit, over Templars. With a record number of episodes ordered for the season, we probably can wait a few more weeks for results.

 

 

 

 

Out, Out! Given Shaft on Oak Island

DATELINE: Void or Vortex?

void on Oak Island Money Pit Candid Camera?

When we learned this week that History Channel had ordered 30 hours of the series Curse of Oak Island for this sixth season, we knew immediately it meant the “slog” factor had been doubled.

This would be a mammoth and twice-as-long season of episodes than the previous year.

And, sure enough, we saw the drama in micro-management. It seems that the stone with “rune” markings would be emblematic of the problem. Alex Lagina found an English literature professor (a rare woman) to give expertise. She was resoundingly rejected by the Lagina Brothers.

She suggested, two weeks after finding a piece of stone, that they look for the rest of it. A half-hearted search commenced eventually, but Rick Lagina out in the field was not enthusiastic. Marty dismissed another expert when she said it was decorative, not language.

If there was a find, it was Gary Drayton—the metal detective—who located another Roman arrow shaft in the muck. It may take weeks to authenticate this.  And, we are still left wondering why no one has done carbon dating on the wood beams found in the mud at Smith’s Cove.

Now the gang of treasure hunters are calling it Roman era because some hydraulic concrete has been found. Well, yes, Romans created it, but it was rediscovered in the 1700s—and, more likely, might be from that era.

Most intriguing again was failed equipment. A highly anticipated submersible camera went down a shaft, found some angular caverns, and promptly crashed, filling with water.  Wasn’t this a submersible??

The Laginas are fond of blaming the perennial curse of Oak Island for equipment failures. However, if you are using paranormal theory (curse killing six men), then you ought to be aware that spirit activity often depletes electronic equipment, causing battery failure.

If you have a shaft/void that has human bones in it at 170 feet, you may well have paranormal activity. It has not been addressed so far.

All in all, this latest episode leaves viewers frustrated. Yet again.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Oak Island, 11th Episode & 11th Hour

DATELINE: Something’s Happening (we think).

alex front & center Alex, Poised for a Hostile Take Over!

Racing to the end of another and sixth season, The Curse of Oak Island takes time to call in a woman excavator who worked with the ROC equipment last year. Indeed, the Lagina brothers note that it has been a year since they actually dug in the shaft where the Money Pit is likely to be.

It’s a year since they found those two pieces of human bone! If that isn’t slow, we will put our money on the Hare racing against the Tortoise. They admit their hunt has been for “information” this season.

College professors may rejoice over this revelation. Others may not be so thrilled.

The show features Gary Drayton only for a few minutes this week, but he finds part of a lead bracelet that seems a companion piece to the lead Templar Cross he found last season.

Alex Lagina, looking more buff than usual, is once again driving miles to interview middle-aged women at museums in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He does learn that the latest inscription may be a rune from the Vikings. However, even he as the brightest light in the Oak Island sky, throws cold water on the paralells. He is almost ready to steal the show from his father and uncle.

Still, he actually and half-heartedly digs in Smith’s Cove with Uncle Rick. More bizarre wood structures are under the mud: made for no discernible purpose, they are new discoveries and quite fascinating.

There are growing hints that this year’s big money throwaway will not show returns till next season. But, now we seem to have found evidence of Vikings and Ancient Romans on Oak Island, pre-dating the Knights Templar. It was apparently quite a tourist attraction in its ancient days.