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"Meant to Be"

Captain Dave and the Buried Treasure

When a man finds a woman with whom he wishes to spend the rest of his life, the manner in which he asks for her hand in marriage should be thoughtful and caring, and represent his undoubting love for her, a moment they will both cherish for many years to come. There’s no grander day for this to take place than on Valentine’s Day, and no better place than aboard a classic sailing yacht, the Black Watch, the largest wooden-masted sailing vessel offering charters in the Southwest.

Engagement Ring Story on the Black WatchOne hopeful suitor, Kristopher, had arranged a romantic sunset dinner sail for the momentous occasion, but he and his girlfriend Amy had no idea how this magical evening would unfold. Kristopher had been planning this event for more than two months. First, a romantic dinner for just the two of them aboard the beautiful antique sailing yacht, then, just at the perfect moment, he would ask for her hand in marriage. He had even thought ahead to ensure that the floral arrangement on the table was filled with her favorite flowers. The weather was lovely for this time of year, and the sunset was looking like it would do its part in the evening’s performance.

The Black Watch left the harbor at a leisurely pace and sailed into the sunset, the sound of a light cool breeze filling the sails above their heads, a gentle wake curling the water behind. Dinner was served with china and crystal, a chilled bottle of wine for a toast. Kristopher asked the Big Question on the foredeck as the sun melted into the water. And the answer…


The rest of the evening was expected to be a happy conclusion to this special moment, but it wasn’t quite what they had in mind.

After the sun had set, the Black Watch made her way back to the dock and was quickly secured. The crew congratulated the couple and gathered their belongings for departure. As the couple walked toward the stern of the boat, Amy reached out with her hand, newly adorned with its significant jewel, to balance herself on the deck. She wasn’t thinking about the fact that the new ring was slightly too large for her finger. It was at that moment that there was a "ting" sound on the deck, a "plop" in the water, and Amy’s cry of alarm and dismay. The ring had slipped off and was gone, sunk into the murky depths of Lake Grapevine.

After the shock of the ring’s disappearance, the reality of the situation – and Amy’s distress – hit home. Her words dissolved into muffled sobs, and tears left trails of mascara down her cheeks. Kristopher did his part to console her with loving, encouraging words: "It’s only a thing; our love is all that matters," he murmured. "Things can be replaced. It’s okay, my dear, I’ll bet we can find a much better one anyway." He was chivalrous. Kristopher behaved admirably, holding it together while trying to assure his disconsolate bride-to-be.

As captain of the Black Watch, I make it my mission to make my guests happy, and this situation required special attention. After spending the last twenty-five years teaching scuba at the instructor level, as well as living and working in the diving and marine industry all over the world, I’ve developed a great skill set to successfully search and recover items as small as a ring. I mentioned to the distraught couple that with the air and water temperature, depth, water visibility and bottom composition, attempting to recover the ring would be challenging… but not totally impossible. "Give me a day or so, and let me see what I can come up with," I suggested. With a slight glint of hope, they left the dock with more on their minds than either had anticipated.

The next day, I got a call about 8 a.m. asking if I had had any luck yet. Understanding Kristopher’s eagerness, I assured him that it would take a few hours just to assemble and prepare the equipment needed to perform the search. I told him I would contact him as soon as the search was complete.

To add to my chance of success, at the time of the incident I had asked Amy to stop crying just long enough to point out the exact spot where she saw the ring hit the water. My hopes were buoyed by the fact that the boat had been tied up at the dock when the ring fell. I very slowly lowered two brightly colored weights on a string until they gently touched down on the bottom, about a foot to either side of the spot that Amy had identified. Taking care so as to not drag the weights along the bottom, I carefully secured the other end of the string to the dock so I would have a surface reference, as well as a bottom reference, for the underwater search.

With the water temperature in the forties, a dry suit was a must, as were the appropriate hood and gloves. Poor visibility at four to six inches didn’t help the mission much, either. A shallow depth of only 26’ was a plus, but along with the low visibility, murkiness created another set of problems. Then there was the lake bottom to deal with: about six to twelve inches of fine, very soft silt into which the ring could sink. Once the equipment was together, in I went, with my father on the dock to monitor the search from above and to explain to passers-by what was going on. One observer commented, "Oh, yeah, right! Like he’s going to find a ring in that!"

Descending down another anchor line, only an arm’s reach away from the marker lines, I inverted to a head-down position in the hopes that I’d be able to see the bottom before bumping into it and disturbing the silt, which would bring the visibility down to zero. Nearing the bottom, my nose within inches of the silt, one of the brightly colored marker weights came into view. Using this as the starting point of my search, I began scanning the bottom. In an ideal world, with the light silt, I was looking for an impact mark where the ring would have disturbed the silt when it hit the bottom. However, with very limited light and visibility of only a few inches, looking for a micro-crater in the silt was proving to be a challenge.

Then, after only three very small search passes over the area, a glint of one lone diamond and a sliver of the white gold band magically appeared. There it was! The remainder of the ring had sunk below the surface of the silt, but fortunately, just enough was visible above. What luck! WOW! From the time I left the surface to the time I was back at the surface was just at three minutes. The ring was found!

When I surfaced, all those standing around watching were shocked as I handed my father the ring. Later that afternoon, I contacted Kristopher. He had already prepared himself for the worst and was sure that the search would turn up nothing. Then I gave him the good news and asked him where we could meet so I could return the ring. He was amazed. He said, "You have no idea how happy Amy will be to get her ring back!" Then he added, "I guess it was just meant to be."

Capt. Dave and Black Watch Sailing Charters wish Kristopher and Amy all the best in the world and pray that their lives together are as happy as the day after his proposal.