Aqua Quest International, Inc. incorporated Aqua Quest International, Inc. in Florida on May 10, 2012 to engage in salvaging, preserving and displaying historical and archaeologically significant shipwrecks worldwide. Its predecessor company was a sole proprietorship of Capt. Robert H. Mayne, Jr., operating in the salvage business for over 30 years. Captain Mayne’s adventures started at the very early age of 13 when he found his first treasure; his beloved “Bell”. It took Captain Mayne 2 years to recover his bell which sits quietly in his home.
The adventures continued and grew into businesses taking Captain Mayne throughout many Countries seeking treasures of various types. Along his path, Captain Mayne was introduced to Dr. Steve Foster whom has spent many years in Honduras doing missionary work and helping the people of Honduras. Dr. Foster shared with Captain Mayne information about the plight of Indigenous disabled former spiny lobster divers that are permanently confined to wheelchairs. Over the years, many hundreds of young men and boys have become disabled and confined to wheelchairs for life from decompression sickness also know as the “bends” This completely preventable with proper training and equipment. Our intent was to provide equipment and training and create a documentary film about this tragic situation. While on a site visit to the region to meet these disabled divers, salvaging an unknown treasure of sunken old growth hardwoods within the waters of Honduras was identified as a way to create jobs and opportunity for many and provide an alternative to lobster diving. Captain Mayne then turned his treasure hunting towards recovering sunken logs.
Captain Robert Mayne prepared the boat and crew for the potentially treacherous voyage to Honduras. Captain Mayne is all too familiar with encounters of pirates and what measures he would need to take to protect himself and his crew if needed along their 900 mile journey to Honduras so firearms for personal protection were onboard. On May 1st 2014, Captain Mayne left his home port of Tarpon Springs, FL guiding the Aqua Quest through the waters and embarking on an adventure that neither he nor his crew knew awaited them in the days to come. This salvage trip was different and unlike any other as they had just come off the Copper Ore Project recovering lost ore from a cargo ship that sank in a 1924 hurricane off North Carolina. Using equipment engineered specifically for the project called the “Orasaurous” and keeping an eye on sharks, the crew salvaged about 50 tons of the ore. The work is hard and tedious and as our crewman Kelly Garrett said,” If it was easy, the Girl Scouts of America would be in the salvage business and we’d be selling cookies, right?”
Anyway, this new site was located in Central America and in a region that had become notorious for drug trafficking Aqua Quest was focused on recovering mahogany and other old growth logs from the waterways and assisting in humanitarian efforts to the Miskito Indians. Captain Mayne negotiated and reached an agreement with the officials of the rural town Ahuas to extract these forgotten treasures that would employ local community members, provide community improvements, and involve the community in a profit share.
The rest of the story is more involved than can be said here on this page but to make a very long story short, upon arrival to Honduras, the crew was arrested and charged with phony weapons charges and spent 52 days in a ramshackle prison until they were declared innocent of all charges and released. This has temporarily halted our project in Honduras but as luck would have it, some Nicaraguan and Honduran Miskito Indians met in their travels in Honduras and the Nicaraguans told the Hondurans “tell the American to come and talk with us. We want to do the Project in Nicaragua”.
Without hesitation, Captain Mayne flew to the remote coastal town of Puerto Cabeza on the Miskito Coast and was greeted with open arms by the people of Nicaragua whom were excited and anxious to participate in the Captain’s project. Captain Mayne spent a few months going from town to town holding meetings with the locals explaining the project, and most importantly telling them how they will be involved through jobs that would create opportunity for many in an area in need of such. In unprecedented time, Captain Mayne obtained the first ever exclusive agreements to locate, recover, process, and ship these sunken treasure logs and struck a deal to lease with the option to purchase an idled sawmill located in the village of Lamlya. It wasn’t long before the sound of turning saw mill blades being operated by local employees began to transform the area. These Indigenous community members were now locating, recovering and processing these sunken historical logs at our new saw mill and providing for their families.
We also got back on track with what got us interested in the Miskito Coast in the first place and we recently opened our woodworking school and workshop to train disabled and wheelchair bound former spiny lobster divers the art of woodworking. This facility is now enabling them to provide for themselves and their families. We have planted thousands of Mahogany trees and dug many water wells that now provide clean drinking water for many families. This is truly the most meaningful part of our adventure.