3rd Annual Bonne Terre Treasure Hunt Yields Plenty of Bounty
(DiverWire) – Scuba divers have often been compared to modern day pirates. Perhaps it is the lust for adventure. Or, maybe it is the desire to find the lost treasures that pepper the underwater world.
In the beginning of June every year, a band of adventurers and treasure hunters gather in the heartland of America; a small town that is a page out of a John Cougar Mellancamp song. Bonne Terre is a small town an hour southwest of St. Louis that to most people would never register on their places to visit. However, to divers, it is a mecca of underwater adventure. It is also the host of the annual Bonne Terre Treasure Hunt.
On June 5th, 2010, 150 divers of all skill levels did their giant stride off the sub-terranean boat dock into the depths of what was once the largest lead mine in America. Hidden in the crevices of the Bonne Terre Mines are bags of valuable chips. The intrepid waves of divers search and recover thousands of chips throughout the day. Like pirates in search of bounty, the divers scour every nook in the caverns. Each chip has a value that is later redeemed at the “Bank of Bonne Terre”. After four dives with visibility that can only be classified as outstanding and a terrain that is unlike any other in the dive world, most divers have accumulated chips that will enable them to buy everything from simple dive equipment to seven day all-expenses paid dive vacations.
This year was the largest turnout in the Bonne Terre Treasure Hunt’s three year history. Many of the divers heard about the event on ScubaBoard, the largest online community in the dive world and this year’s top sponsor. Treasure hunters traveled from Poland, Canada, New Hampshire, Florida, California and Arizona. All showed up looking for prizes, and all found fun and adventure. Many walked away with a piece of the $40,000 in prizes. Some of the prizes were donated by Mares, SeaLife, HotSuits by the Academy of Scuba, Rocio del Mar Liveaboards, APS Manta Ray Fins and many others. The Grand Prize was an all expense paid trip to Grand Cayman’s Sunset House. That prize was taken home by the top chip gatherer with over 9000 points.
During the surface intervals, divers would visit with the various representatives from the prize donors. This day was all about diving and the excitement didn’t stop with the treasure hunting in the mines. Reviewing the new products being presented at the sponsor vendors booths kept everyone in dive mode.
The afternoon was capped with an old fashioned barbecue (included with event admission) and the auction, where all the divers bid their chips found in the mine that day. Dozens of prizes with a combined value of over $40,000 seemed to fill the coffers of almost every diver there. No one left empty handed, as Rescue Tape and SSI donated prizes to everyone participating. Without doubt, the biggest prize was participating in the event itself. Well managed, extremely safe, and lots of fun means next year’s event looks to be even more promising and littered with more prizes and pirate booty! It’s on my calendar and it should be on yours. See you there.