Aqua Quest River Wood

Our project is centered in Nicaragua within the RAAN where logging was a large part of the Country’s industry for many years. During the logging boom, a great number of the logs were lost in the waterways and have been resting in a preserved anaerobic state for centuries.

These logs are not only extremely rare, they cannot be duplicated today. These first growth trees grew much slower in diameter than our trees of today which resulted in much tighter, finer growth rings and produced a much finer grain resulting in an old growth piece of timber with increased strength and durability due to the density of the wood. Since the 1600’s, for several hundred years, the Honduran and Nicaraguan forests yielded the finest mahogany and tropical hardwoods in the world. Logs from these giant trees would be cut and dragged to nearby rivers and floated downstream many miles to awaiting sailing ships anchored off the entrance to the river; it is estimated that up to 50% of the logs never made it to the waiting ships and sunk to the bottom of the riverbeds where they have been resting peacefully for more than a century.

However, it is good for the logs to be submerged. Sunken logs have aged and the wood has completed all of its movement. This aged timber is far superior to a fresh cut tree. These logs were lost over many decades creating deep layers of stacked logs. Each year the heavy rains and raging waters will uncover the next layers of logs.

Aqua Quest has been issued the first and only exclusive renewable permits to recover the sunken logs in this region. We have purchased a sawmill in Lamlaya where our logs are brought after they are recovered from the river beds by our divers and recovery teams. Our wood is then processed for customers all over the world for multiple uses including flooring, furniture, doors, cabinetry, and other uses.

Aqua Quest is committed to humanitarian efforts to bring sustainable farming, clean drinking water, road and waterway improvements, creating jobs for the Miskito people, and creating an economy within the region with this incredible resource.

Aqua Quest International, Inc. incorporated Aqua Quest International, Inc. in Florida on May 10, 2012 to engage in salvaging, preserving and displaying historical and archaeologically significant shipwrecks worldwide. Its predecessor company was a sole proprietorship of Capt. Robert H. Mayne, Jr., operating in the salvage business for over 30 years. Captain Mayne’s adventures started at the very early age of 13 when he found his first treasure; his beloved “Bell”. It took Captain Mayne 2 years to recover his bell which sits quietly in his home.

The adventures continued and grew into businesses taking Captain Mayne throughout many Countries seeking treasures of various types. Along his path, Captain Mayne was introduced to Dr. Steve Foster whom has spent many years in Honduras doing missionary work and helping the people of Honduras. Dr. Foster shared with Captain Mayne information about the plight of Indigenous disabled former spiny lobster divers that are permanently confined to wheelchairs. Over the years, many hundreds of young men and boys have become disabled and confined to wheelchairs for life from decompression sickness also know as the “bends” This completely preventable with proper training and equipment. Our intent was to provide equipment and training and create a documentary film about this tragic situation. While on a site visit to the region to meet these disabled divers, salvaging an unknown treasure of sunken old growth hardwoods within the waters of Honduras was identified as a way to create jobs and opportunity for many and provide an alternative to lobster diving. Captain Mayne then turned his treasure hunting towards recovering sunken logs.

Captain Robert Mayne prepared the boat and crew for the potentially treacherous voyage to Honduras. Captain Mayne is all too familiar with encounters of pirates and what measures he would need to take to protect himself and his crew if needed along their 900 mile journey to Honduras so firearms for personal protection were onboard. On May 1st 2014, Captain Mayne left his home port of Tarpon Springs, FL guiding the Aqua Quest through the waters and embarking on an adventure that neither he nor his crew knew awaited them in the days to come. This salvage trip was different and unlike any other as they had just come off the Copper Ore Project recovering lost ore from a cargo ship that sank in a 1924 hurricane off North Carolina. Using equipment engineered specifically for the project called the “Orasaurous” and  keeping an eye on sharks, the crew salvaged about 50 tons of the ore. The work is hard and tedious and as our crewman Kelly Garrett said,” If it was easy, the Girl Scouts of America would be in the salvage business and we’d be selling cookies, right?”
Anyway, this new site was located in Central America and in a region that had become notorious for drug trafficking  Aqua Quest was focused on recovering mahogany and other old growth logs from the waterways and assisting in humanitarian efforts to the Miskito Indians. Captain Mayne negotiated and reached an agreement with the officials of the rural town Ahuas to extract these forgotten treasures that would employ local community members, provide community improvements, and involve the community in a profit share.

The rest of the story is more involved than can be said here on this page but to make a very long story short, upon arrival to Honduras, the crew was arrested and charged with phony weapons charges and spent 52 days in a ramshackle prison until they were declared innocent of all charges and released. This has temporarily halted our project in Honduras but as luck would have it, some Nicaraguan and Honduran Miskito Indians met in their travels in Honduras and the Nicaraguans told the Hondurans “tell the American to come and talk with us. We want to do the Project in Nicaragua”.

Without hesitation, Captain Mayne flew to the remote coastal town of Puerto Cabeza on the Miskito Coast and was greeted with open arms by the people of Nicaragua whom were excited and anxious to participate in the Captain’s project. Captain Mayne spent a few months going from town to town holding meetings with the locals explaining the project, and most importantly telling them how they will be involved through jobs that would create opportunity for many in an area in need of such. In unprecedented time, Captain Mayne obtained the first ever exclusive agreements to locate, recover, process, and ship these sunken treasure logs and struck a deal to lease with the option to purchase an idled sawmill located in the village of Lamlya. It wasn’t long before the sound of turning saw mill blades being operated by local employees began to transform the area. These Indigenous community members were now locating, recovering and processing these sunken historical logs at our new saw mill and providing for their families.

We also got back on track with what got us interested in the Miskito Coast in the first place and we are 90 percent construction complete of a woodworking school and workshop to train disabled and wheelchair bound former spiny lobster divers the art of woodworking. This facility will enable them to provide for themselves and their families and this is truly one of the best parts of our adventure.

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Environmental Impact

Aqua Quest International, Inc. has always made the environment a priority in every project we have been involved in. Our techniques and processes are completed in an environmental conscious way. We use advanced underwater locating devices and techniques to recover the old-growth logs from the bottom of the waterways throughout Nicaragua  to be transformed into valuable wood products.

Our underwater logging project only recovers previously cut timber and never does any type of deforestation. We believe there is an abundance of this reclaimed wood within the waterways of Nicaragua and will have a significant positive impact on deforestation and habitat-loss. Our project also aims to save greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding deforestation through salvaging submerged mahogany and other logs in the Nicaragua Rivers. Given their huge density and inefficient logging practices, many trees sunk in the rivers. Today, given the scarcity of some wood essence and the application of international convention on endangered species trading like CITIES, it is getting more and more difficult and expensive to manage precious wood business in Nicaragua and around the world. By salvaging these logs from the Rivers they are then transformed into consumer products (floor, furniture, etc) which delay the greenhouse gas emission of that logwood. Through this project we have access to millions of carbon credits which we will have available for companies that are in need of such credits. We are also growing thousands of Mahogany trees that will be planted in and around our community to help refurbish the forests that were severely depleted over the years.

 

                                            Old Growth Log

                                                                                   Old Growth River Reclaimed Log

Four main areas of focus for the Environmental Rehabilitation and Economic Development of the Autonomous Region North Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua 2016 project:

 1. Economic Development- Each project is set up to create economic stimulus to the municipalities of La Moskita. Aqua Quest International, Inc. plan includes creating jobs by hiring locals, teaching sustainable farming and agriculture to produce healthy food sources for the community, water purification systems, renewable energy, and the export and import of products. 

2. Riverbed Cleaning- Removal of wood obstructions will assist in opening clogged waterways and return the rivers to their natural state and help increase the fish count. Improvements to drainage of farm land will be incorporated into this phase of the project which should increase food production and sanitation for the community.

 3. Coastal Zone Management- In conjunction with an approved environmental scientist, Aqua Quest International, Inc. has initiated and provided an environmental impact study with documentation of the environmental benefits this project brings.

 4. Community Profit Share- Aqua Quest International, Inc. is committed to a long term business partnership and humanitarian efforts to benefit the La Moskita. Included in our business model and agreement is a generous profit share back to the local municipalities of La Moskita.

The Process of Underwater Logging

The process of underwater logging begins with the Side Scan Sonar search. Underwater logs have accumulated over many decades and are layered beneath the river bed. The top layer protrudes slightly above the sediment. We scan the river bottom marking the exact position with GPS. After locating the logs, we drop a buoy marker on the GPS coordinates. Our diver descends with a 10 foot long wire rope with a metal noose on each end. Using a curved threading rod, the diver hooks the cable and pulls it around the log, inserting one end through the noose. Now the diver attaches the pulling line to the wire noose. The diver makes two taps on the wire, using his digging tool to tell the tender above to put tension on the pulling line. At this point the diver turns the wire cable so that the cable cinches tight off center. This is crucial because we want the pulling force to cause the log to roll to break the powerful suction of the sediment. The diver exits the water at this time and the tension is increased on the pulling line. After a minute or two, bubbles appear and the log breaks loose. Using this technique a skilled team will recover an estimated 30 to 40 logs per day.

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