Breakfast of Champions:
Brian was a little concerned the other day that he had a doctor's appointment at 8 in the morning. Probably the worst of this was the fact that he had to stop drinking at 8 the night before so they could perform some tests.
At 11am today I finally got out of bed, it being my day off, and ventured down to Vasco's for breakfast. Brian came over to show me the magazine that signifies the peak of his colourful career; a feature in a Dutch 'girly' magazine.
I said I assumed the test results had come back ok and he said "Of course! I've had two drinks already!"
I told Brian he must have a secret to finding so many wrecks throughout his illustrious career. He said it is partly a matter of luck, partly a matter of knowing your history. Brian has made a point of documenting where the ancient trading ports were; such as Manilla, Malacca and Puerto Galera; the location for his first wreck discovery. Determining the direction of prevailing winds in these locations as well as significant headlands and the depth and location of shallow reefs nearby, it is a relatively straightforward process of scanning the ocean within a 6-7km radius of these points for anything 'unusual.' By unusual he means shapes that are not created naturally; for instance a perfect circle or a straight line, an unnatural rise in the sea bed which could signify a buried pot or vase. Whatever the trick may be, it is true that Brian's expeditions have led to the discoveries of several valuable and historically significant maritime wreck sites, and the recovery of many marine artifacts.
"As always, the wonders of the underwater world encompassed me as soon as the waves were a few feet above my head.... I wasn't looking for anything in particular, when I spotted a circle in the golden sand of the sea bed... The excitement within me was now so intense I could hardly breathe into my regulator. Currents slowly cleared the water and there, shining golden a few centimeters in front of my face, was the curling, clawing be-fanged emblem of the Dragon Throne of Imperial China."
In the passage of Puerto Galera, off Mindoro, which here proves to be a 'Port of Galleons,' Brian first fell in love with, and began his life in the Philippines with his then-wife and business partner Alin at Captain Gregg's under the coconut palms of Sabang Beach. This is where he made his first in what was to become a career and lifelong obsession with wreck salvaging. The discovery was of a 15th Century 'Balanghai,' or Malay-edge dowelled sailing vessel, containing hundreds of pieces of blue and white Ming Dynasty pottery resting in the sands of the Philippine sea floor. The find has been conservatively estimated to have originated in 1500 AD. What has caused such insurmountable interest among experts here in the Philippines is not only the unique and historically priceless value of the cargo, but also the ship that carried it. Investigations have concluded that it was made of South East Asian black teak (found in areas of the Philippines but not China), indicating that big Chinese junks carried trade goods down to the Philippines and then cargoes were loaded on to local vessels for distribution. This would indicate a much more sophisticated trade pattern than previously imagined.
"But out there, somewhere amid the twisting channels and countless waterways, through the passages and lagoons that separate the Philippines Islands, I believe there is a lot more to discover that can bring us closer to an unrecorded past."
Homan, B. (2011), 'Looking For Lobster,' Active Boating and Watersports magazine, March, Vol. 11, Iss. 1
Some of the treasures from Brian's first discovery....
'Taking a Plunge Into History,' South China Post, June 9, 1984
Sinclair, K. (1984), 'Riches of the Incredible Hulks,' Sunday Telegraph, July 22, 1984
Lammoglia, Umberto (1988), 'Brian Homan is Capt'n Gregg,' Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday, July 17, 1988 (also my birthday woohoo!!!!)
Sinclair, Kevin (1984), 'Treasure Island,' Discovery magazine, September, Vol. 12, No. 9