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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top 10 Reasons NOT to be a Gold Dredger in Nome

A person CAN make money in Nome, but it isn’t easy.  Mining in general is a difficult business and is surprisingly more difficult than it looks.  It can be an emotional roller coaster.  When it is good it is really good, and when it is bad, it is terrible!

You shouldn’t be a Gold Dredger in Nome if...

1) You can’t take scratches, bruises, freezing half to death, mosquito bites, sunburn, seasickness and other physical abuses.

2) You can’t pick up 200 lbs without a problem.

3) You can’t move around in tight spaces and hold awkward and uncomfortable positions.

4) You are generally a jerk.

5) You can’t think clearly in a jam.

6) You are afraid of water and the ocean or cannot swim.

7) You lack patience and perseverance.

8) You dislike labor intensive jobs.

9) You cannot see clearly enough to see yellow against grey in low light and visibility.

10) You want or need a steady paycheck.

However, Nome is one of the top 100 gold placer fields in the world.  There are literally millions of ounces of gold all over the area and even under the town itself.  There definitely is money to be made for those who have the ability, patience and the bank roll.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Not the Taj Mahal, but Not too Bad

Raining in Nome again yesterday, as the non-Natives become more and more restless while waiting for a break in the weather. The Goldenrod crew has been working on their Nome home; making it more private for its' inhabitants.  Mom and Dad now have their own room in the second container that is connected side by side to the first.  And, Tommys room is located in container one opposite the full bath...The crew will be receiving the necessary part they need today to make the adjustment to the Kubotas on Goldenrod.  Weather clearing soon, and the dredging to really begin!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

8 ft Waves at Nome Beach

Hell hath no fury like Mother Nature scorned...and she's been letting er' rip in Nome as of late.  For days it has been raining, foggy and downright unpleasant there; causing tensions to rise amongst the anxious miners awaiting her pass.  In reality, weather conditions often get in the way, limiting the amount of time that miners can actively dredge for gold in the Bering Sea.  Some dredges are able to withstand a lot of bad weather. However, today the south wind created 8 ft waves and poor visibility, halting all small scale mining operations.

The Goldenrod crew spent the morning with their Shelbyville visitors (Rob and sons) before they left for Anchorage and then on to Denali.  Later, they worked on building the Master bedroom in the second container.  Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier...

Keep your spirits up.  Miss you all much and looking forward to an about-face in the weather!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fair Weathered Friends

The weather is still the pits in Nome today; upper 40s and raining.  Rain won't stop the crew from dredging with Goldenrod.  However, the winds blowing (more than 10mph) any direction but from the Northeast usually will keep most all of the small dredge operations at bay.  Which, for now, is fine with the Goldenrod crew, as they are awaiting a part for regearing the Kubota engines that run the suction hoses (currently not operating at the proper RPMs).  Instead of dredging, they have been busy cutting windows into the container (which makes the living arrangement more like an RV or mobile home rather than a cracker box).  Speaking of home, the crew was visited by a Shelbyville, KY native (Rob Purnell) and his sons this week!  Just so happens the weather has been the worst it has been since the crews' arrival this summer.
Photo of Dad setting Kubota engine inside Goldenrod (Tommy operating backhoe).  Each of the two suction hoses is powered by its' own Kubota.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board

July 24, 2012 The weather is a bust, and the pot is still devoid of that amber colored metal we all so love.  However, the team is constantly brainstorming any flaws in Goldenrod that they've detected while dredging.  And, August 1st is not yet upon us.  Rocks and other organic seafloor debris clogging suction hoses. First, the team needs to see what they are suctioning, then the suction hoses need to remain unclogged and able to deliver seafloor contents to sluice boxes.  Then, said sluice boxes have to agitate said seafloor contents just at the right elevation and with the correct vibration to discard lightweights and waste to collect the gold in the bottom.  Tommy is literally back to the drawing board and will have this thing licked! If at first you don't succeed, try again, again and again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Fine Day

July 22nd, 2012 The Bering Sea is now calm and the weather is beautiful in Nome today.  Needless to say, the sea has been teeming with dredge boats.  The Goldenrod crew has been out since around 5 a.m. this morning.  They were out the past couple of days too, but from where the weather had been bad previously, the visibility on the seafloor was poor.  Dad and Tommy are considering better lighting options for the camera (attached to near the end of the suction hoses).  Any ideas, please feel free to comment. By the way, visibility is terrific today, and is perfect for dredging!

Tommy's Office

Tommy and I chatted for a few minutes this morning as he was heading out to the Bering Sea.  He told me that the water was beautiful and that he was going to take a picture as he wanted me to see the view from his office.  :)

A few minutes later I got this picture. He's right, it's an absolutely gorgeous day out there.
Sending him and his Dad best wishes for a safe and prosperous day on the sea.....Jynn

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sea to Land Communication

The crew spent time yesterday (when the seas were too high to go out) installing a radio system to keep communication going between crew on land and crew at sea.  There is a 20 ft antenna on the intermodal living container now.   They also worked on patching the Zodiak (raft) in hopes of salvaging it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18th, Patience

My Dad's best original guess for the start of their dredging for gold was August 1st.  They have been in Nome since around June 8th, and have essentially established a home and rebuilt a boat since then.  Amazing!!!  The crew has been in constant motion to get this project up and going.  There have been many things that have gone quite well, and some things that have gotten in the way of progress (as anticipated).  One of the crews most recent discoveries was that the life raft (to be pulled behind the boat in case of emergency) had been chewed through by mice while in storage.  And, there has been some vibration of the boat when the speed is increased.  Therefore, there have been some mechanical adjustments to make.  Remember, Goldenrod is a first ever designed and built ocean dredge of its kind.  It is considered 40 ft long (with the engines and mechanical arm) and is 12 ft wide and weighs 15,000 lbs.  She is equipped with a sonar system that will determine seafloor density and such.  And, her two camera led suction hoses will be operated by the crew in the cab (as opposed to diver led).  No dredge divers necessary or allowed from Goldenrod.  She is complex, powerful and will certainly get the job done!  So far, we are ahead of schedule.  Actual dredging to begin in a day or two, after all equipment checks out and life raft replaced.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, Goldenrod Update

For those of you wanting to know how the crew is getting along with Goldenrod...she was launched two days ago.  However, the crew determined that the front end was a bit overloaded.  And, the front arm was not as stable as they would like.  So, the past day and a half has been spent on removing part of the front anchor system (starboard anchor still intact), and further stabilizing and reinforcing the front arm.  One thing my Dad is known for is reinforcing the foundation (it's the engineer in him).  More pics and information to come soon.  And, gold to be found!  

Sea Glass on Nome Beach

Mom told me that she has started collecting sea glass on Nome Beach.

Glass Becomes Sea Glass when:
A piece of glass has been tumbled by natural wave action to the point where there are no sharply-defined edges or corners. The natural action of elements in the water along with sunlight and tumbling action have produced a unique frosted or etched surface covering all sides of the glass.

During the period from 1900 – 1909, estimates of Nome's population reached as high as 20,000 due to the gold rush at that time.  Many people stayed in tents on the beach. Where do you think a lot of bottles ended up?

Yes, as sea glass on the beach, of course! Nome is a good place to find it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thumbs Up

Goldenrod is launching in the morning (July 14th)!  Pics to follow soon.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weird Alaskan Laws

While there are undisputedly some rather wacky sights and funny characters in Alaska, some of the laws there are no exception:

**Moose may not be viewed from an airplane.

**It is considered an offense to feed alcoholic beverages to a moose.
**It is considered an offense to push a live moose out of a moving airplane.

**While it is legal to shoot bears, waking a bear for the purpose of taking a photograph is prohibited.

**No one may tie their pet dog to the roof of a car.

**Persons may not live in a trailer as it is being hauled across the city.

**A person may only carry a concealed slingshot if that person has received the appropriate license.

**Employers of bars may not let their bartenders serve while they are drunk themselves.

**Owners of flamingos may not let their pet into barber shops.

**One may not roam the city of Nome with a bow and arrows.

**Persons may not allow "attractive nuisances" to exist.
**No child allowed to build a snowman taller than the child on school grounds.
**No Huskies allowed inside school buildings.
**No stealing snow from a neighbors yard to make a snowman. Using it for an igloo is acceptable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Goldenrod being moved onto Trailer

A pic of Goldenrod being loaded onto trailer for moving to be launched soon.  A few last things to be done onboard, including identification decals and numbering.  Mainly, the robotic arm needs to be attached once loaded onto trailer.  Another big thanks to John for his assistance!

Hookah Dredge Diving

Sorry to say Goldenrod is still a few days out from being ready to splash...Now it is looking like Friday or Saturday.  The crew is working very hard to make sure all systems are a go before they launch her. Although Goldenrod is not a hookah dive dredge, there are many operations in Nome that are run this way.  Divers go to the bottom and suction water, sand, gravel and gold through a hose via a gas powered pump.  This mix runs through a sluice box on the boat where the gold sinks to the bottom of and the water and such runs back out to the sea (gold is 19 times heavier than water).  In a typical day, a dredge miner may work over 10-100 sq feet of seafloor. 

Monday, July 9, 2012


The feeling of friendship and trust among a group of people can make or break an experience.  Fortunately, the crew has experienced a good deal of camaraderie in Nome; specifically where they have been working at the Harbor and at the place of their residence.  Everyone seems to pitch in to help, and the crew has likewise helped others in return.  Mom just told me that last night they feasted on Alaskan King Crab legs AGAIN...  Their neighbor's close friend owns a fishing boat that hauls them in locally.  In return, Dad and Mom share a variety of their homemade wines with them; blueberry, wildberry, blackberry and green apple reisling. Sounds like a deal!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sack Racing in Nome, for fun, this is what Nomanites do.  Or are they considered Nomans?  These people sure know how to have some fun!  While in Nome, do as the Nomans do...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bering Sea Fog

From unlimited visibility to zero, in five minutes. Welcome to the Bering Sea. The weather phenomenon known as sea fog forms when a pocket of warm air passes over the notoriously cold North Sea. Add an onshore component like a wind of 5-20 mph, and the cooling in the bottom of the warm pocket of air is spread upwards and generates a fog; sea fog.  Happens in Nome, and can turn a good dredging day into a bad one in a hurry!

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6th, The Wild Ranger and Goldenrod

The Goldenrod crew recently met and talked with Vernon Adkinson (first season Bering Sea Gold). He paid a visit while they were working on Goldenrod in the Harbor of Nome.  Vern has two dredge boats with crews this summer in Nome.  Last year Vernon spent $100,000 converting a 25-foot Stiletto sailing catamaran into the Wild Ranger, but the dredge and its suction assembly spend the first season malfunctioning horribly. The vessel is a lesson in the abject difficulty of gold dredging in Nome: what can seem like a perfectly sound design often comes up short in the cruel world of Bering Sea gold mining.

Steve Riedel (left), Vernon Adkinson (center), and Scott Meisterheim (right) round out the Wild Ranger team.

The Goldenrod crew has been working longer hours everyday; finishing multiple system wiring work in the cabin today.  The time is nearing for launching! Photos to come as I receive them. 

Nome is Remote

This is a pic of the world famous Gold Nugget Inn in Nome, Alaska (located at the finish line of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race).  Check out the signs and distances to various cities and such.  Siberia is closest at 164 miles away!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Season 1 of Bering Sea Gold, The Sluicey

Monday, July 2nd.  Windy and around 60 degrees on the Nome beach today; driving the mosquitoes away.  My Dad and brother are steadily working on the hydraulics for the dredge as I type this.  Mom is busy with laundry today.  Not much exciting to tell.  Still on target for July 11th!  No major problems up to this point.  Fingers crossed 'for will be done'.

Remember Ian Foster from Bering Sea Gold (the ex-Social Worker)?  His dredge was called The Sluicey and was geared more for a lake than the Bering Sea.  Ian is dredging again this summer (best of luck Ian)!  Dad and Tommy helped  him work on his dredge one day recently.  I am curious to see it.  Hope it is seaworthy.  And, what about 'bad boy' Scott Meisterheim?  He's back too.  With a dredge of his own this season.  Season Two of Bering Sea Gold should really be awesome!
more crew photos from Bering Sea Gold Season One