Let’s finish off the week with some solid gold sunset action from Natural Bridges. As I hit the beach in late afternoon on the first day of February the sun was shining on the cliffs with a Golden Globe color like I had never seen, and I’ve been to this spot more the Condy Rice has defended the Administration’s policies. It was such an amazing color that I had to feature it today on Golden State Friday. It only glowed this way from a certain angle, but it was just tremendously choreographically entertaining, like a routine on “Soul Train” by the Solid Gold Dancers.
These next shots are my tribute to Valentine’s Day. I try to keep people, animals and unidentified UFO’s out of my landscape shots but ever once in a while a throw something in to keep things edgy. As I hit the beach I saw this wet-suited couple taking in the view from the sand, but what really impressed me was the next couple emerging from the water. Did I mention they were buck naked? The young woman then proceeded to prance around in the waves-what a special way to end the daylight portion of this free love Friday. As far as her dreadlocked partner was concerned, all I could think of was George Costanza telling Jerry Seinfeld, “Shrinkage, Jerry, shrinkage.” Yeah, that water’s a little nippy. But as you can see from the last shot from West Cliff Drive, love was in the air and you know what a romantic I am.
Back to the golden coast. There’s a company in the Sunshine State that hasn’t won the gold but they’ve definitely taken the silver. The playground legal principle “Finders keepers, losers weepers” is being put to a test in an international dispute over what could be the richest sunken treasure ever found: 17 tons of silver coins brought up by a centuries-old shipwreck. A Florida treasure-hunting company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, found the wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and argues that the age-old law of the high seas entitles the finders to most or all of the booty, said to be worth around $500 million. That is one booty call I would be interested in. And coincidentally, we now have located the biggest wreck underwater and above water in the White House.
But the government of Spain suspects the ship is Spanish and says it has never expressly abandoned any of its vessels lost at sea. The kingdom has made it clear if the treasure does have some connections to Spain, it wants every last coin and bottle returned. The case is being watched closely because there could be more disputes like it, now that sonar, remote-control submersible robots and deep-sea video are enabling treasure hunters like Odyssey to find ships that went to the bottom centuries ago and were written off as unrecoverable because no one could imagine finding anything so far beneath the waves. The Spanish have also said that since Columbus discovered America, they would like to have the proceeds from all of Charo’s CD’s, the residuals from the song “Spanish Harlem” and the rights to Alex Rodriquez’s first switch-hitting child.
The question is, just because you’re the first one to get there, should you get to keep it, especially if it belongs to someone else? For now, the spoils, about 500,000 coins are in Odyssey’s possession, tucked away in a warehouse somewhere in Tampa. Odyssey created a worldwide sensation with the announcement of the find in May but has so far declined to identify the wreck, except to say it was in international waters. Soon after the discovery was announced, Spain’s attorney in Washington went to federal court in Tampa and slapped claims on three Atlantic wreck sites to which Odyssey had been granted exclusive rights under maritime law. When asked about this situation, Carly Simon said she hasn’t got time for the claim.
The ship is widely believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a Spanish galleon sunk by a British warship off Portugal in October 1804. This discovery was timely for Odyssey, whose first big strike was the discovery in 2003 of a Civil War-era steamer off the Georgia coast that yielded artifacts, 51,000 gold coins and a trunk full of Dr. Pepper valued at around $70 million.
The final word on this deal comes from an editorial in Spain’s biggest newspaper which read, “These new pirates of the 21st century continue to besiege our galleons despite the fact they have been laying at the bottom of the seas for centuries immersed in an eternal sleep. How is Spain to defend itself against such a violation of its archaeological and historic patrimony?” First Roger Clemens, now the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baseball is taking a beating. Next you’ll tell me that Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Carribean are somehow involved.
So that’s it for the week. With Valentine’s Day, the new Sports Illustrated lack of bathing suit issue hitting the stands and the Warriors beating the Suns in Oakland in a thriller on Wednesday night-I’m just emotionally exhausted. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be taking it strong right to the blog on Monday like a young Monte Ellis. So try and enjoy each day and savor those special moments and we’ll catch you next week for some more off the court central coast action. Aloha, sports fans.