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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Jim Rogers' The Current State of Gold's Worth

"If gold stays up this year, this will be the 12th consecutive year that gold rises. That is extremely unusual," says Rogers.

"I don't know of any asset in history that has gone up 12 years in a row without a down year. There may be some, but I don't know about it."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bering Sea Gold CRAZY is Back

New Season Bering Sea Gold Premieres January 4 10/9 C

Preview New Episode Now

Behind the scenes footage revealed on Friday, December 28th, 10/9 C on The Discovery Channel.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Little Christmas Cheer for Gold Prices

Conventional wisdom in the gold market has been that when central banks flood the markets with cheap money under quantitative easing programs,gold benefits thanks to its status as an inflation hedge. But that link now appears to have been severed and gold is acting more like riskier assets such as stocks. Stocks have been selling off as fears over the fiscal cliff intensify – if no deal is reached it could topple the US back into recession. Gold shed 60 cents to settle at $1,659.50 an ounce in New York in quiet pre-Christmas trade Monday. The metal regained some of its footing on Friday,after a week that saw the metal give up more than 2% or $35 in value. Gold has been losing ground ever since the US Fed's announcement on December 12 of a major shift in monetary policy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Discussion on Sluice Box Lengths

These are pictures of KY Goldenrod in Nome Harbor, Summer 2012.  There are two separate sluice boxes that are 20 feet in length.  We run 2200-2300 rpm (35 hp) Kubota engines for each sluice box.  We have had to adjust our sluices numerous times this past season in regards to the sluices quickly clogging with black sand.  We are working out the kinks in hopes of catching more than 75% of the 1-2mm and above and 50% or more of the finer gold in the coming season 2013.  Any suggestions?

Miner #1 asks: What length should a sluice box be?
I understand the width vs. flow issues but not about the length.
Is there a ratio of width to length?
If a 4 foot is good then an 8 foot is better?  At what point is a sluice box too long?

Miner #2 comments:  Keep in mind the faster the water flows over your system the more loss of small gold.  Think of a leaf in the wind, the faster the wind the further the leaf will travel.

Miner #3 comments:  I am a big supporter of long boxes but in the real world a long box doesn't mean a whole lot with respect to recovery ratios and in fact many 3-foot long boxes recover just as well as 8-foot long boxes. I still like long boxes but from a 'scientific' standpoint they aren't neccesary. Modern studies of settling rates of fine gold tend to indicate that a lot of the old studies were flawed and that particles near the bed seldom 'jump' more than a few particle diameters in a typical sluice unless they get picked up by the upper layers of the laminar flow as happens when a large pebble sweeps by. With appropriate classification this isn't a problem so I guess the new 'rule of thumb' would be classify-classify-classify and don't worry about the box length. two-feet is probably long enoug if you classify your materials.  I still prefer to use long boxes but seldom if ever find anything beyond the first 18-inches no matter what type of riffles or mesh is being used. I do think however that power sluices and dredges do need to be at least 48-inches long as they can develop some pretty significant water velocity so a lot of material gets kicked up into the higher water levels.

Miner #4 comments:  I read a widely published in the 1930s account of working placer gold and shoveling in to a sluice box by a mine engineer.  The box was one ft wide and one foot deep running nearly full of water.  He claimed 98% of all his gold was within two feet of where he shoveled in, his box was 8 ft long and he claimed that longer would likely have saved more of the flower size particles but only if a screen classier was incorporated further down the box, the point is that for the most part it comes down to the fineness of the gold  that you are after.  He was shoveling in bank run material with no preclassification and yet 98% of his gold was saved in the first two feet of box.
Obviously the question comes down to one of gold particle size.  The finer the gold the more preclassifying is necessary along with wider box and carpet or burlap to replace riffles.
Only riffles being needed for the course gold along with more water and greater water velocity to keep the gravel from clogging up the box, the course gold quickly finds the bottom and is trapped in the riffles.

Miner #5 comments:  A longer sluice will keep the gold longer, the hydralic miners of old had 100 yard sluices called long toms which they cleaned out weekly, they still blew most of the fines through because it wasn't classified material. Maybe the first sluice runs 1 inch minus material which dumps into a second sluice covered with 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch perforated sheet suspended 1/2 inch over the rifles, Rocks just slide right over perforated sheet (punch plate). You might want to check out Keene engineering, they've got this new black rubber rifled matting to catch the fine stuff ( $8 per 1x30inch strip). I bought a 10 inch wide strip to do the exact same thing (as above), I hav'nt put it together yet but I'm hoping it works on lake Superior black sand.Anyway running the finer material through a second sluice ( or train of sluices) would be the only reason to go longer than 4 feet on a 10 to 12inch wide sluice. Good luck, Bill

The Canadian Prospectors Forum

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gold Bugs Have Nothing to Smile About Today

Proof Bernanke Can No Longer Move the Gold Price

Gold was little changed on Wednesday – changing hands for $1,713 an ounce in late trade in New York  – despite the momentous announcement by the chairman of the Federal Reserve fundamentally changing US monetary policy.
Ben Bernanke said that the central bank will now target specific employment (6.5%)  and inflation numbers (2.5%) when deciding on policy, a huge change.

                                                                      Ben Bernanke 
But what  should have boosted the price of gold is that Fed's bond-buying program has been upped by $45 billion, bringing total asset purchases to an eye-watering $85 billion a month. And that it expects rates will be near zero until mid-2015.
In the past any mention or even a hint of increased or extended quantitative easing would send investors piling into gold. Anything to the contrary and they would run for the exits.
Not yesterday.
After small swings up and down during Bernanke's comments, gold quickly settled back in its low $1,700s trading range.
The Fed's flooding of markets with cheap money under QE1 kicked off on 16 December 2008. On 15 December 2008 an ounce of gold cost $837.50.
Granted, gold has doubled thanks to the Fed's money-printing.
But if you look at yesterday's lackluster reaction from gold it seems the Fed's actions will no longer move gold any higher.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Morgan Stanley's Top 2013 Picks Gold and Silver

SINGAPORE: Gold, silver and corn will outperform other raw materials next year as a weaker dollar and rising investor demand bolster precious metals while supply curbs aid grains, Morgan Stanley said, listing top picks for 2013.

Silver will track gold, which is poised to gain on low real interest rates, buying by central banks and geopolitical uncertainty, analysts including Peter Richardson and Hussein Allidina wrote in a report on Thursday, reiterating an October call. Corn and soya beans should benefit from harvest delays in South America, they said.

The bank is bearish on aluminum, sugar, nickel and uranium as supplies are set to outpace demand. Morgan Stanley joins Goldman Sachs Group in predicting the so-called super-cycle isn't over. "Higher prices in recent years have brought both a supply and demand response, bringing many to call for the end" of the super-cycle, they wrote. Gold may average $1,853 an ounce in 2013, while silver may be $35 an ounce, Morgan Stanley said.

That compares with gold's average of $1,668 so far this year and $31.1542 for silver. Soya beans may average $15.70 a bushel in 2012-2013, it said.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gold and Silver Lessons from Pawn Stars

Despite being in a bull market for the past decade, precious metals are still widely under-owned by historical standards. The percentage of wealth held in gold and silver today fails in comparison to the last bull market thirty years ago. The investing world is heavily skewed towards paper assets, as traditional education methods focus on these types of investment vehicles far more than others. However, investors looking to diversify away from equities and bonds can learn about hard assets such as gold and silver if they watch close enough.

On Friday, Rick Harrison from the hit television show Pawn Stars appeared on CNBC. He discussed his pawn shop business and how it performs in the current economy, but his view on profits were very interesting in regards to gold. When asked about what kind of margin he tries to receive, Rick explains, “It just depends on what the items are. If you bring me a piece of art that might sit on the wall for two or three years, I’m going to give you maybe 50 percent of what I think I can get out of it. If you bring me a gold coin in the store that I can sell immediately right on the market, I’ll make one percent, I have no problem with that.”

Rick’s statement underlies a key characteristic of gold, which is liquidity. Gold is an asset that can easily be bought or sold in the market without causing a large movement in price or a loss of value. This characteristic helps allow gold to function as a medium of exchange around the world. It can be transported easily from one seller to the next buyer with little debate or confusion. While a painting may have value like gold, its price can be highly subjective and there is no telling when the right buyer will come along and purchase it. Furthermore, gold coins are more convenient to carry in your pocket than a painting. Even though gold as a percentage of held assets is very low, gold demand has been rising.

While Rick did not mention silver in the interview, a prior episode of Pawn Stars showed that the white precious metal is also appealing as a hard asset. In the episode, a young man named Jeff rolls into the Harrison’s family pawn store, located in Las Vegas, with a cart full of silver. In fact, he had 3,372 ounces of silver which he bought 12 years ago near a price of $5 an ounce. Similar to gold, Rick enjoys buying silver because its high liquidity makes it easy to resell. He explains, “I love to buy silver all day, everyday of the week, because there’s a set profit margin. I can sell it on the market immediately.”

The two agreed to a deal where Rick bought Jeff’s silver for about $33 an ounce. The purchase amount was relatively easy to calculate as both gold and silver are a unit of account. Their value is easily measured by weight and the prevailing market price per ounce. The transaction also showed the ability of precious metals to act as a store of value. Twelve years ago, Jeff’s stockpile of silver was worth around $17,000. However, he cashed out at the pawn store for $111,000. In the process, Rick even informs Jeff that silver has many industrial uses. Silver is the best conductor of electricity and nearly every cell phone, computer and television uses silver.

These two segments involving Pawn Stars provide examples of three key characteristics for gold and silver. The two precious metals are a medium of exchange, unit of account and a store of value. These are also requirements for traditional money. Currently, the U.S. dollar is the reserve currency of the world and is easily a medium of exchange and a unit of account. However, since governments and central banks have access to easily increase the money supply, the greenback’s store of value is being attacked by inflation. With more than 5,000 years of history behind them, gold and silver tend to hold their value over the long-term extremely well, as their worth is not eroded by a printing press.

Gold and silver lessons from Pawn Stars
Eric McWhinnie - Wall Street Cheat Sheet | July 30, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reason Gold Bugs Cheer for Democratic Presidents

Why Gold Bugs Should Cheer For Democrat Presidents
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2012 09:48 -0500

We already know that Ben Bernanke is a gold bug's best friend (here, here and here). And while technically Ben Bernanke is a republican, and was appointed to his post by a republican president, it is safe to say that when it comes to printing money political affiliation is irrelevant, especially since it was paradoxically a democrat Obama who was Bernanke's biggest backer during the last year for very obvious reasons - after all it was merely Bernanke's $2 trillion in excess reserves that pushed the stock market higher and gave the false impression that the economy is improving (even if a potential Romney administration would have hardly budged the status quo and likely replaced Bernanke with an even more pro-printing figurehead in the face of Bill Dudley). So a different question is: should gold bugs be more excited by a democrat or a republican president. The answer is self-evident: of the $4000 inflation-adjusted increase in gold price since gold was floated by Nixon, a solid $3000, or 75% of this rise, has taken place under Democratic administrations. So dear gold bugs: stock pile that physical and cheer on Obama and hopefully his democratic successors. At this rate, gold (and ostensibly all other precious metals) will outperform every single asset class known to man (sorry Buffett).

Again, I voted for Romney (what is really in the BEST interest of our country)...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Gold that Hit the Pan

Not much of it did.  But here's a little...  We barely scratched the surface.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dredging Nome Man's Land, The Book

This blog was originally created to chronicle our crews' days in Nome, as the paper journals I sent with them were rarely reporting anything other than the daily height of waves, wind direction and general temperature.  I wanted more.  I wanted the full picture; rather to live vicariously by their words to fully experience Nome, and all it's simple, yet unusual, glory.

The Discovery Channel's incredibly popular reality t.v. series, Bering Sea Gold, certainly helped to inspire my story, as it gave me a much better understanding of the 'rough and tumble' that Nome is, and is proud to be...  A great deal of research was necessary for this project, as I have been so far removed from it (geographically).  Not to mention... it is so far outside the average American experience.

My book, Dredging Nome Man's Land, is an honest attempt to tell our families' story about dredging for gold in the Bering Sea.  The t.v. series might not exactly make the business of gold mining look easy, but, I assure you, it is way more difficult than you can imagine!  There are so many unforeseen variables and challenges to gold dredging that I will explain in explicit detail (thanks to ongoing conversations with the crew and others in the industry) in my book. I sincerely hope to project an accurate feel for the reality of this endeavor.

Currently, finishing up the manuscript to send to my publisher.  Then on to copy editing, conceptual editing, design, publishing and distribution!!!  It's a lengthy process.  Hang tight!  I want all of you to get the details you so deserve!

Any ideas for the cover?

Also, if anyone has any pictures they would like to share for the book, I'm looking...

If you have any ideas for cover or pictures to send...please email to

Thanks so much!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Peace of Mind for KY Goldenrod Crew

The KY Goldenrod crew left Nome, Alaska for the season after the first week in October.  The weather had been relentless, and the visibility of the seafloor was poor.  This week Dad talked with his good friend, Harold (a dredger from Iowa he met this summer), and found out that the weather did finally clear for a day or two after our crew's departure, only to be followed by yet another very powerful storm; this time carrying waves all the way to Front Street in Nome!  After that storm the weather turned cold, fast!

                                                    Aerial view of Nome Harbor

As of October 17th, 2012, the Nome Harbor had iced over.  This week, port employees are going to pull the floating docks and the channel buoys out of the water.  The Summer 2012 season is officially a wrap for all small dredge operations there.  Our crew has a little more peace of mind about coming home a bit earlier than originally anticipated... Although, if they'd only stayed one extra day they could have witnessed the splendor of the aurora borealis (that occurred on the night of the day Mom and Dad returned from Kentucky).  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Conversation about Dredging

Random guy says:
hi, my wife and i are getting a huge settlement andhave decided to build a dredge, we see how rickidy some on the show are built and desided to go with bigger barge design on pontoons, equipped for 3 divers, is their a law reguarding only being able to have 1 suction hose, or are allowed 2??? our operation would be designed to withstand alot worse weather than everyone was getting scared of to potentially double our time on the water and with 2 suction divers potentially doubling the gold recovery. and 1 more thing if someone has one of those claims on the water that they started for the first time, can you negotiate with the owner of the claim to mine their??? or is it specifically for that owner only…
heres a laugh, with how flimsy those dredges look, wheres all the life jackets and life rafts???
JasonD says:
June 13, 2012 at 10:28 am
The limitation for the “open area”, is for pump-size/strength and hose diameter. (You can have as many hoses as you wish, running below the diameter, at the maximum engine-size. The losses will be greater with each hose added, as the power will be lost to pull-up material. However, silt-gold is the majority, and the rig should be designed for that.)
Pulling-up large rocks is only to de-mud them, and to move them from the hole. The mud on the rocks contains a majority of the “free-gold”, which is sea-placer gold.
Keep in mind, that sluice-boxes are the WORST design for gold capture. Well, the best of the worst. High-loss at any volume of flow. More loss when the gold is smaller than an eraser, and the fill is larger than a shooter-marble.
Every foot of sluice, pays for itself. The best you can hope for is about 35% capture. (Proven by the constant re-mining and higher yields from the same mined areas, year after year.) The good news is… Nome is one of the highest concentrations of free-gold, “placer-gold”, in the sea. So any properly worked area has a decent yield. Key-word: properly. (Most don’t mine proper, they just vacuumed the floor like maids at a hotel, leaving with pocket-change, not wallets of cash normally nested in the cracks of the couches or dressers.)
Good luck. Hope I can make it there this year, or next-year.
P.S. Don’t go crazy on top-dollar purchases. A $2.00 sluice produces the same as any $400.00 sluice. If you know how to operate it. If you don’t, the $400.00 sluice will yield nothing, as will the $2.00 sluice, but your losses will be greater

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Northern Lights in Nome

The Aurora Borealis is one of the greatest wonders of the natural universe.  Several volunteers from KNOM (the local bush radio station in Nome) got to experience it first hand on the night of Monday, October 8th.

"By 10:30 pm there were green lights dancing in the night sky.  Well, at first, we couldn’t see much. There was a long streak of silver silky clouds that could be green, maybe, from a certain angle. So we piled in the car and drove through the deserted, dark town and as we headed towards the mountains, the streak started to change. We were getting excited. The silvery cloud was becoming clearer, and moving, and when we finally made it to the top of an empty hill, it was fully green and beautiful.
Seeing the Aurora was beyond description. Green and pink streams were slowly falling and lifting like rivers of light and we were goofy with joy. We skipped and jumped and hopped, DayneƩ and I held hands and twirled in circles, and all five of us lay down on the cold permafrost and marvelled at the dancing Aurora. Josh said it was like seeing Narnia, if the magical wardrobe was a freezer",
by Eva DeLappe, October 9, 2012.

Tommy was home (in Kentucky) on the evening of October 6th.  And, Dad and Mom home in the wee hours of Monday, October 8th.  Our crew JUST missed it!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quits for Now

It came as a surprise that KY Goldenrod's dredging season came to an abrupt end this week.  Patience wore thin, and we were not successful in recruiting another diver to finish the season. The past week or so in Nome, the weather has been rough again.  Two nights ago the winds were howling at 55 mph, further stifling precious time left in the season.   According to the local miners, anytime between Oct 15th through October 31rst, the ice starts to form over the Bering Sea, halting the summer gold dredging season...

The good news is that our team had been making progress in determining what we may have (in the way of gold) on our offshore lots.  Armed with likely GPS coordinates, the crew was eagerly pursuing those points of interest.   Several times they tried, only to be disappointed in the underwater visibility factor related to the high winds 'murking up' the seafloor.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ancient Beach Lines

Nome forms the southern boundary of a 6 km wide coastal plain at the foot of glaciated hills.  A unique marine gold deposit is situated immediately offshore.   Gold was discovered in 1900 on the present day Nome Beach, which eventually led to a major onshore mining industry.  The total recorded onshore placer gold production from the immediate vicinity of Nome is over 5 million troy ounces thus far.  Evidence of glacial gold deposits extend on the seabed for nearly 5 km offshore in water depths of 20 meters and less.

Anvil Mountain and Newton Pike are situated within 7 to 12 km north of Nome.  They represent the original source of most of the placer gold in the Nome area.  As glaciers receded and the sea level rose, precious minerals were deposited.  Placer deposits are formed by natural stream concentrations of the metal after its liberation from host rocks by deep weathering and erosion. As the liberated gold moves downstream it eventually sifts through the loose stream bed to rest on bedrock.

The gold found offshore Nome is oriented parallel to the coast over an East-West distance of about 25 km.  The submerged beach lines have been identified up to 16 km offshore.

It has been the experience for the seasoned miners of Nome, Alaska to "follow the ancient beach lines" to find the best gold.  They have been (and continue to be) major sources of mined gold in the Nome area.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Tommy

Another Year Wiser...

Happy Birthday To YOU.  Happy Birthday to YOU..  Happy Birthday dear Tommy...  Happy Birthday to YOU!!!!  Cheers to hoping you find a great BIG gold nugget today. (:

With love from your sis,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Over the Hill

Gale force winds have been ripping through Nome the past couple of days and nights.  The KY Goldenrod crew awoke to find their outdoor 'facility' had been carried away by the strong wind; just lifted it up and tossed it into the nearby tundra.  The new plan is to send back the porta potty, and bury our own septic system.  Therefore all bathroom duties can be done inside the full bath at the end of container 1.

The winds have been wreaking havoc on gold divers, as the seafloor has been quite murky, making clear visibility impossible.  They hope that by Saturday the winds will have died down enough to dive for gold.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The ONLY Given In This Game

Many very valuable lessons are learned the hard way by doing things less than perfectly the first few attempts (especially when treading on new territory).  Successful people generally have enough personal drive to learn from mistakes and keep pushing forward even though there may be some pain and discomfort during the process.  Others may tend to collapse due to setbacks rather than staying focused on the achievement of the goal of success.  After a time, small setbacks can add up to a major failure, which may eventually result in the person giving up altogether on the endeavor. This is seen quite regularly in gold mining, when a person is in the prospecting phase and doesn’t find a pay-streak right away.

The business of dredging for gold in the Bering Sea has so many variables and unknowns that it can literally make your head spin!  That is the ONLY given in this game.  All the rest lies within the hands of happenstance (or so it seems), no matter what you've learned or not.  It is all a vicious cycle; hope the weather holds out, wait, wait, wait and chomp at the bit until it does, finally go out dredging, hope to select a good spot to prospect, wrestle with equipment, to sample or not to sample, move rocks and suck gold til you can't anymore or some system fails, wrestle with equipment AGAIN and head back to port, wander back home, finally fall into bed and crash into a deep sleep from complete exhaustion.  Of course, don't let me forget...REPAIRS and ongoing MAINTENANCE of the dredge and all of it's seemingly delicate parts.  More time is spent doing that than mining.  Ugh...  Did I mention clean outs?  (Always hoping the 'goes ins' far surpass the 'goes outs') It is what it is, and not everyone can do it;  plain and simple.


Great pic of Ian Foster, Captain of Sluicey 2 and cast member of Bering Sea Gold!  He is tired, but staying focused.  Or, I like to call tired.  Hang in there Ian!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Finale Hoorah

Bering Sea Gold Under the Ice season finale recap...

All of the episodes of Bering Sea Gold Under the Ice have ended with the following disclaimer:

Offshore dredging is not a get rich quick opportunity.  
It is expensive and DANGEROUS.
Most people who try fail.  Some have died.

Leads are huge cracks in the ice and an obvious sign from nature that the ice is melting.  The Lazy Gator crew has been ice diving closer in to shore from East Beach (public recreation area).  The ice is thinner there, and they all work as fast and as hard as possible (rotating divers every hour) to get gold while they still can. They're on the gold and are pushing it to the last second.

Finally, during individual dives, both Derek McClarty and Jacob Musich hear Mother Nature sending loud popping noises throughout the water (a sure sign the ice will soon give way).  They both exit the water as if they nearly escaped; clearly shaken.

"Hearing that ice shifting and popping is like a sign written on the wall.  It's the sign I need, and I can read.  It says GET OFF THE ICE!"  Derek McClarty

So, the Lazy Gator crew calls it a season, each fairly ecstatic with their unprecedented ice mining gold finds.

Shawn and the Shamrock crew are finally on a good streak of gold and are giving it all they've got up to the end.  Steve Pomrenke finally rides in and urges Shawn to call it quits until summer.  Without further ado, Shawn packs it up for the season, despite not meeting his goal of 100 ounces.

"It's an endless cycle.  You get more gold, put it back in, get more gold, put it back in...until one day you hope to find enough gold to quit."  Shawn Pomrenke

The Clark crews' expectations were far from realized this season.  However, on the positive side it was an incredible (yet, chaotic and painful) learning experience, and "that's a success and failure in itself", Steve Reidel...  Determined to break away from being broke, Zeke is the last ice dredging operation to budge from the ice.  Zeke is clearly very driven and has simply been unfortunate in choosing a good spot this time around.  There is no doubt, there's a bit of a gamble in this business.

"Gold on the bottom of the ocean is like an open cash register.  The uncertainty keeps me coming back."  Zeke Tenhoff

Seems gold really DOES make people do things they wouldn't do ordinarily...
Til next season guys (and gal).  Strong work!

Final Gold Tallys:

The Lazy Gator    
95.95 ounces 

68.45 ounces

The Clark
7.7 ounces

Friday, September 21, 2012

HELP NEEDED Experienced Bering Sea Gold Diver

If you are an experienced gold diver in Nome, Alaska (Bering Sea) and are looking for work, RESPOND. Honest and experienced inquiries ONLY. 
Thank You.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shifting Rhythm with Axis

It is 8:15 a.m. in Nome now as I write this from my desk at 12:15 p.m. in Kentucky.  The sun hasn't yet risen there.  My Father paused to yawn while on the phone with me a while ago.   Usually much earlier to rise, his circadian rhythm is quite obviously effected by the Earth's tilt in axis these days.  Just a reminder, when our team arrived in Nome (early in June), the days were exceptionally long (about two hours of darkness then).

 Circadian Rhythm

At the military and weather station located at 82°30′05″N and 62°20′20″W, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, Canada (about 450 nautical miles or 830 km from the North Pole), the sun begins to peek above the horizon for minutes per day at the end of February.  Each day it climbs higher and stays up longer.  By March 21rst, the sun is up for over 12 hours. On April 6th, the sun rises at 5:22 a.m. and remains above the horizon until it sets below the horizon again on September 21rst at 3:35 a.m.   By October 13th, the sun is above the horizon for only 1 hour 30 minutes and on October 14 it does not rise above the horizon at all. It remains below the horizon until it rises again on February 27th.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gorgeous Visions to Behold

The sun is setting in Nome now between 9-10:00 p.m. (7 minutes sooner every eve).
It snowed in Nome today.  Not much, just a dusting.  The past couple of days have not been good for mining, as the weather turned wet and windy again.  The Goldenrod crew has been busy making any necessary adjustments to the dredge during this unwelcomed time off.  Our crew will stay in Nome and dredge until the ice prevents them from going out (usually mid to late October).  

Nome is starting to see the first signs of 'Old Man Winter' as the mountains collect snow on their peaks.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fear and Dumb Luck Keep Divers Alive Under the Ice

Recapping Bering Sea Gold, Under the Ice from Friday, September 14...

The return of seagulls off Nome's coast, brings the beginning of the 5 ft thick ice meltdown. Although the ice does not completely melt until around the first week in June every summer, it begins to melt months sooner, slowly weakening the support for heavy ice diving equipment. The ominous sign of bubbles start to actively appear atop the ice of the underwater dive sites, indicating a near cease of operations for the season.

"The air bubbles we are making while diving are traveling 5 ft through this ice", as described by Jesse Strickling, a diver on The Lazy Gator.  Jesse and The Lazy Gator crew are running their dive operation around the clock, leaving them all exhausted.  This episode Jesse goes diving on 30 minutes of sleep over a two day span, and experiences the unexpected.  As the ice melts it also forms 'ice chandeliers' that are jagged ice crystals dangling downward from the ceiling.  Jesse's air hose becomes tangled around some of the crystals, taking him an extra five minutes to free himself from, delaying his rise to the surface.  His teammate inadvertently falls asleep on duty, and is of no help when Jesse calls for him from under the ice.

"The idea of going into subzero temperatures in a hole and it's the only way in or out..I just gotta be confident in my ability to do it."  Jesse Strickling, Diver on The Lazy Gator

The Shamrock crew is also operating long hours, and are feeling the drain.  Shawn Pomrenke gives one of his inexperienced crew mates, Phil Rode, a try at diving.  Frustrated when Phil isn't suctioning much of anything, Shawn dons his wetsuit and joins him on the seafloor.  Lucky for Phil, Shawn doesn't come up and purposely scare him from behind (it IS open ocean, and any number of large fish COULD be passing by looking for a quick meal).  Phil finally gets the hang of it and puts gold in the box.  "Ice diving is a bit like driving a car in Fairbanks," he says. (???) Perhaps he made that statement during a hypothermic state of mind... Shawn decides that Phil did his best and will allow him a couple of more dives while the 'getting of gold' is still good.

Zeke Tenhoff experiences a VERY close call after he goes under the ice and loses his weight belt.  The sudden loss of 100 lbs that he needs to keep him on the seafloor quickly becomes a problem causing him to rise to the surface and be pinned to the ice ceiling.  Anxious to find the hole to the outside, he desperately bangs at the ice hoping that Emily will hear his cries for help.  He finally finds the opening and realizes his brush with death.  "If I lost my air hose by chance down there, I would have drowned just then," he told Emily...  Knowing he needs weight to return to the seafloor, Steve and Emily Riedel devise a plan to get him there.  They place rocks that have been sucked into the sluice box into a bag that Zeke will use as weight.  This enables Zeke to descend to the bottom, retrieve his weight belt and resume dive operations.  He's 'on the gold' and there's no time to lose.

In the end, Zeke and Steve make amends, as Zeke realizes what a tremendous resource he has in the people he's chosen, and who WANT to work on The Clark.  They both get GOLD STARS this week.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Thoughts from the Deep

Fantastic dredging weather in Nome this week!  The Goldenrod crew has been out dredging the past several days.  Tommy has been diving, and finds it to be the easiest work he's done up to this point;  all alone underwater, hearing nothing but himself breathe and his unspoken voice uttering random thoughts from within. It's a little different from, but rather like being in the thick of a forest, enveloped instead by water than by woods...  He can also determine if the boat's engines are running smoothly, and the distant sounds coming from the Kubotas  aboard.  He says that the suction is really powerful coming from the hose, "I'll set the hose on the sand, and it sucks all the way down to the bedrock!" He can hear the sounds of pebbles and other matter being sucked into the hose, and says, "The hose will suck a 10 pound rock up like it's nothing."  I asked him if he saw any gold.  "I think I may have seen some, but it's really hard to tell.  We'll know for sure when we do a clean out."

His first dive was in just 6 feet of water.  Since he was so shallow the visibility was not as good.  Tommy moved rock and suctioned for over five hours before calling it a day.  He said that his lips got really cold, but his body stayed warm in his 7 mm thick wetsuit with warm water pumped through from the heat generated off the engines.  By the time they got back to harbor it was nearly midnight.  

The second dive was in 16-18 feet of water (deeper on lot 40).  Tommy described it as a much clearer dive down deeper, again moving rock and suctioning underneath. All went smoothly until the compressor belt bit the dust, forcing them to call it a day.  Fortunately, the new cog driven system has arrived, and will be installed promptly by our crew. 

This Goldenrod show is on the road!  Here's to your ongoing safety, keeping those 'deep' thoughts always positive, and to a successful clean out Brother! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Trust yourself, Trust your Team and Believe in the Gold," Steve Riedel.

Most of my observations from Episode 3 of Bering Sea Gold Under the Ice are related to The Clark crew...

Zeke Tenhoff has not been successful finding a good spot to mine under the ice, as evidenced by $0 in the box up til now.  Although Zeke has a great work ethic, his luck with picking a hot spot has failed him...Underslept and overworked, Zeke becomes angered when his overnight crew comes to inform him of the hole being over a sandbar.  Steve Riedel chimes in, "You didn't put the camera down there to check", which only further agitates Zeke.  'Told you so' remarks by Steve are taken as insults to Zeke's character.  Steve goes on to tell Zeke, "YOU are the monster.  YOU made the mistake.  YOU have driven this outfit to near bankruptcy!"  Instead of taking deep breaths and shrugging it off, Zeke reacts by requesting to Steve that he write a full page apology letter "in his best cursif"  about how wrong Steve was to call him out.  Zeke is hellbent on retaining his dignity as the boss of his crew.
                    "Trust yourself, trust your team and believe in the gold," Steve Riedel.

I agree with Zeke that Steve Riedel is quick to point out the mistakes of others.  However, Steve Riedel is no dumby.  He is older, wiser and less testosterone driven than Zeke, and should be respected (by Zeke) as his elder.  Relationships with others are what truly matter in life.  Zeke and Steve have known each other for many years, not to mention Steve is the Father of Emily (Zeke's lifelong friend and former love interest).  Steve really didn't insult Zeke's work ethic or intelligeince, he insulted his behavior by the way he reacted to the camera comment and poor choice of mine site. 

Later, Steve Pomrenke pays a visit to Zeke and recommends that he try his dowsing rods.  Shock and sketisiscm are written on Zeke's face, but he tries them as advised by Steve.  While walking over the ice with the dowsing rods, they eventually cross.  In amazement, Zeke decides to dig where X marked the spot from the dowsing rods.  What does he have to lose?  A lot of the older miners stay on the gold all of the time.   "I don't believe in magic, but I do believe there is some scientific phenomenon that is occurring.  The pull from the rods is impossible to deny."

                      "I feel like I have this new superpower", Zeke remarks. 

Gold Tally thus far...

Lazy Gator    
27.52 ounces worth $45, 174.08

6.5 ounces worth $10, 669.75

The Clark
0 ounces worth $0

Sunday, September 9, 2012

They Told Us So

Where to begin...I will start by reporting that Nome is now sunny after raining 27 days straight!  The gold dredgers are ecstatic to be able to work again, as the fierce waves have also subsided. 

Goldenrod was designed to be a dredge that doesn't require divers.  Instead, a mechanical arm (made from a backhoe arm and bucket) was mounted to the front of Goldenrod with two camera led suction hoses attached for vaccuming where the arm digs.

Our team was immediately informed by experienced dredgers in Nome that our system is too complex and would be fraught with problems. The Goldenrod crew simply needed to see and experience that for themselves, as a great deal of mental and physical effort had gone into the design and building of the mechanical arm (not to mention costs).  It was the primary dreamchild of our crew's Nome Project.  What a concept; not to have to actually get into the frigid water to mine for gold. 

After repairing the arm once agin recently, the Goldenrod crew went out dredging to discover that it is simply NOT going to work.  Although the arm is functioning beautifully, what has been occuring is that during the digging and rock moving process with the arm, the dredge shifts upwards of 15 feet away from where the suctioning needs to take place, despite the dredge being heavily anchored from both sides and from the back.  Our team isn't able to keep the boat from moving in the water during dredging.  Previous Nome dredgers have attempted the similiar mechanical arm operations, also to no avail. 

After serious thought, the crew's executive decision was made to get rid of the mechanical arm, and to redesign Goldenrod to be a hookah dive dredge.  Divers are better able to determine where to move rock, and where to suction for gold on the seafloor.  It is the PROVEN method of getting gold off the seafloor in Nome.  Every minute counts in Nome, and our crew made a huge sacrifice for the success of the operation. 

Therefore, Goldenrod no longer has an arm.  It has taken several days of much negotiations with local divers in Nome to locate available equipment for this about face operation.  In a matter of days our expeditious crew completely converted Goldenrod to a dive dredge.  She may no longer have an arm, but certainly stands a better chance in the Bering Sea now... 

My brother, Tommy, plans to suit up tomorrow for his first Bering Sea gold diving experience.  He is an experienced and certfied scuba diver, which will certainly help to improve his underwater comfort level.  He is uber excited to get down there, move a lot of rock and suction seafloor sand down to the depth of around 1-1.5 ft (to bedrock, where most of the gold is). 

This season Steve and Shawn Pomrenke's crew is on the gold with their best season ever.  One of our leases is in that same general area, so that's where our crew will be spending the next several weeks.  Here's wishing our crew luck and to Tommy for safety while diving! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Dip in Dowsing

We take pleasure in things that confound our senses, which is why conjuring tricks are delightful and science can seem a killjoy. The physicist Richard Feynman once said that "Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself". What he didn't say was just how much fun fooling yourself can be.

Dowsing is an ancient way to find different underground formations: various water formations, precious metals, oil or one of the many forms of earth energies.  Because of the somewhat mysterious way that dowsing works, its history has had numerous moments of rejection, ridicule and even strong accusations.

The classic dowsing rod is a simple forked stick cut from a tree branch which is held in both hands with the single and longer branch part or "pointer" facing outward. When gold is located, the pointer will drift downward until it is pointing directly at the ground, marking the spot to dig or search. Gold dowsing rods being sold these days are typically L-shaped brass rods that the user grasps lightly in both fists with the longer portions of the rods pointing outward. When gold, silver, or other treasure is detected, the 2 rods will cross over one another, with the center of the crossing point being the "X marks the spot".

Dowsers ‘believe’ they can dowse, thus making it more a matter of faith than science. While every dowser who has ever tried to prove his/her claims has failed completely, they invariably continue to believe in their abilities.

Skeptics of dowsing and many supporters of it believe dowsing tools have no special powers but simply amplify small but otherwise imperceptible movements of the hands.  The movements have long been established to be the 'ideomotor effect' (muscle movements caused by subconscious mental activity) and can make anything held in the hands move. It looks and feels as if the movements are involuntary. The same phenomenon has been shown to be behind movements of objects on a Ouija board.

There have been many investigations of the veracity of dowsing. The positive studies were mostly informal and did not meet scientific standards. These studies failed to exclude alternate explanations such as environmental clues in open terrain. A well-designed study would have blinded the dowser and the experimenter. Furthermore, any study must be carefully analyzed for statistical significance before conclusions can be drawn.

Shawn Pomrenke (from Bering Sea Gold) utilizes dowsing rods when searching for fresh ground to mine.  He and his crew commute to a spot they feel is 'hot', i.e. where the river flows into the Bering Sea.  "People may think I'm crazy for doing this, but it don't bother me one way or another, as long as I get some gold", says Shawn.  Each time Shawn feels the pull of the rods, he marks the location and returns with his dredge.  His dredge grossed over $1,300,000.00 in gold for the Summer of 2011.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I am going to preface this by saying, I am NOT a superstitious person.  However....what is up this year with the weather in Nome (aside from global warming aftermath)?   It is storming again; leaving the Bering Sea gold miners fit to be tied!  The summer season generally offers around 80-100 days of suitable weather for dredging.  And, that is if the operation is up and running smoothly from around June 1.  This summer has been one of the wettest on record.

Goldenrod was on the water Sunday.  The crew got within  a short distance to our furthest lot and both of the Suzuki engines started signaling 'low oil pressure' (almost simutaneously and they are seperate units).  The oil was immediately checked in both engines and determined to be fine, therefore deducing the issue to that of an electronic setting of sorts.  Then, the crew eased on out to the dredge zone on one engine, as a precaution....They dredged for a while and then lost pressure in one of the Kubota suction hose pumps (went to 25 psi down from 48).  As a result, the crew decided to only run one of the suction hoses.  It is not as if they are reliving some previous error they made.  They are expeditiously trouble shooting a new problem again and again!  Not one at a time, but five.

I may not always fully understand the mechanical problems that the Goldenrod crew is faced with time and again, (as I document this journey from a desk over 24 hours of modern travel time away from the likes of Nome).  But, their frustration is very near and dear to my heart.  Makes me want to curse Mother Nature and kick a tire for them! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Time is Money

Did you watch Bering Sea Gold Under the Ice on Friday?  This is a break down of what happened...

Shawn Pomrenke

With a 30 day window for ice dredging, The Shamrock crew has been attempting to run a round-the-clock operation on the ice.  Shawn Pomrenke's crew needs to be collecting around one ounce of gold per hour to be profitable (he ultimately needs 50 ounces to be break even).  Every mistake costs time and money, and Shawn knows that all too well after having been in this business for the past 16 years with his Father, Steve Pomrenke.   Shawn worries that his Father will show up and criticize his work.  I'll bet Steve isn't handing out constructive critiscim for kicks.  I have a feeling Steve keeps Shawn in check for a reason...While diving in the dark and under the ice, Vince ( a Shamrock crew diver) becomes severely choked up when an electrical fire suddenly ignites on the dredge sending smoke down through his air source.  After catching his breath and realizing just how close he may have come to death, Vince makes the comment, "Almost died and I'm still broke.  Maybe I should find a different job."... When one's most basic requirement is threatened, "Gold just don't matter."  

Visible panic on the face of Steve Riedel.

"It's a thousand times more dangerous than summertime dredging", Zeke Tenhoff.

The Clark crew, led by Zeke Tenhoff, has breathing issues of their own.  Both Steve and Emily Riedel suit up (in the same suit I might add) and separately take the plunge.  58 year old Steve is a veteran Bering Sea gold diver, but up to now has yet to dive beneath ice.  With the sea frozen over, the water is much darker and ominous.  When Steve reaches the seafloor he begins to panic, rushing to the surface for air.  Steve is immediately struck with the good sense not to return.  Then, his daughter, Emily goes diving. She experiences the inability to purge pressure from her mask, and cannot seem to get enough air.  By this point Zeke realizes that he may have made a huge mistake by convincing both Steve and Emily that they can go ice diving and that it is perfectly safe.   Fear and regret is written all over Zeke's face when he temporarily loses contact with Emily as she dashes to the surface for air.  Zeke has just come to the realization that he couldn't live with himself if any of his crew members were to get hurt or die.  Zeke states, "I didn't know how to plan for this.  I wish I could just do it all myself."  Truth is, ice diving requires concentration and focus by itself.  Coupling it with dredging, and inexperience simply spells disaster.

Lazy Gator Crew Leader

Lastly, the Lazy Gator crew, with the most primitive dredge in the fleet, continues to put gold in the box.   These guys are 7 miles away on East Beach, which is a public mining zone.  The divers are rewarded with any pickers they find while diving.  Pickers are gold nuggets, and they are finding them left and right (one worth at minimum 5K)!  The only real obstacles they encounter (this episode) are a decrease in visibility while diving shallow water (known as a halocline, where the fresh water and sea water merge), and getting the suction hose clogged with a large rock.  They could install a rock dam at the end of their hose that would take care of the latter. This crew is hardly 'getting rich', but have been most successful of the three expeditions thus far.

Gold Tallys
Lazy Gator  17.52 ounces worth $28,759.08
Shamrock    6.5 ounces worth $10,669.75
The Clark    0 ounces worth nothing

The weather and waves have finally cleared in Nome.  And, the dredging is full speed ahead.  Goldenrod was out for a full day yesterday!  All systems are alas a go.  Let's put some gold in the box!