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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!


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