Oak Island, Nova Scotia – 4,000,000 million people have watched as modern day lost history and treasure hunters have participated in the longest ongoing and most costly treasure hunt in the history of the world. One of the reasons for so many passionate viewers is a 91-year-old man who defies logic and defies the odds.
As a professional explorer and lost history hunter it was daunting the first time I was to come face to face with the 91-year-old Dan Blankenship. Not sure what my mind was expecting? Maybe my thoughts were: a tough old goat or someone totally unreasonable or too hardened to consider any other options? Who knows what was going to happen?
What I discovered on Oak Island was none of these, but something totally different and unexpected. Let me set this up properly: It is a well known published fact that Dan Blankenship and Fred Nolan can be mortal enemies at times. Sabotage, espionage and arbitrage all come to mind, when thinking of these two guys who have dedicated so much of their lives to solving the enigma, which is Oak Island and – at times- trying to one-up each other. They are locked in the ultimate personal competition.
So, needless to say, just minutes before being introduced to Dan Blankenship and shaking his hand, my palms were sweaty and my nerves were tingling with trepidation (and I consider myself a hardened tough guy). I was actually a little scared of the Blankenship.
Not in the way that some 91-year-old-treasure –hunter is going to wallop me, but in the way that a fellow doing this for 50 years might be so hardened in his thought that he would not consider any other new options. New options and theories was the exact reason I was standing there, before this legendary treasure hunter.
We should add one more bit of additional perspective to this backstory before we continue. Fifty-one years at one job is a monumental milestone in any profession. One where at the end you hope to get a huge retirement check and your proverbial gold watch, where there should be a payoff after working hard for ‘the man” and drawing that weekly paycheck while being at the whim of your “job” and “the bosses and executives”. Right?
Who does not want that huge retirement check, after the comfort of a weekly check for 50 years of loyal service? It is what most of us are used to when it comes to working jobs. Hell, isn’t that what most of our parents told us to go out and get? “A regular job with a good company, great benefits, a secure future and a solid retirement.”
But what about those dying breed of characters that don’t work jobs but work their passions? Call it obsession or just poor business judgment (depending on which side the scale you fall on to) but consider this about Dan Blankenship and his time on Oak Island:
No paycheck! No time clock! No Christmas bonus! No retirement check and no gold watch!
Now you can see from where this articles headline was derived- Obsession and Passion or Demons and Determination.
Don’t get me wrong, Dan Blankenship did have a few benefits from working on Oak Island, such as: (1) not losing his life, (2) working with his son and family, and (3) being able to work outdoors in a stunning setting. Wait – are those benefits?
So, after a long trip to Nova Scotia and knowing of “the man” for decades, my hand shot out and shook the hand of a living legend and the epitome of “never give up your dreams”.
Never give up your dreams! Now that is a worthy message to teach our children. A highly valuable message, but the message my family tended to promulgate was, “You can’t do that!” or “No you can’t!” or the latter day one I still hear at times “You are just wasting your time!”
As for me, I ignored such wise family advice and now I was standing here face to face with a man who ignored the same family advice. I was about to get an inside look – a behind the scenes look- at a living history and treasure hunting legend. NOTE TO SELF: GREAT THING I ignored my “family programming” or I never would have met this man, a man that would change my life a give me a needed breath of fresh air; a man that would give me an attitude adjustment as I rapidly approach 50 and at times think our world is headed to hell in a hand basket.
The World Health Organization and The United Nations list the ranking of the average life span of a male living in Canada at #11 and #12 respectively out of all countries. The number of years lived is 82.5 years and 80.5 years depending upon the source. Mr. Blankenship has zoomed a decade past that and shows no signs of slowing down.
Great thing Dan Blankenship moved from the USA to Canada or he would be at #34 at 79.8 years or #40 at 77.97 years.
At 91, Dan Blankenship still bears the frame and countenance of someone in his 70’s. However, HIS MIND is even more impressive. Talk about an unbelievable working computer! Dan Blankenship’s mind is one of the sharpest I have ever encountered.
Having a discussion with Mr. Blankenship is like talking to my buddy Scott Flansburg – you know – “The Human Calculator” you have seen on TV and most recently featured on “Stan Lee’s Superhumans”.
You have seen Scott run off numbers faster than you can hit the multiply key on your handy dandy calculator. Scott holds nothing over Dan Blankenship when it comes to remembering and recalling facts, figures, steps, estimates, techniques, measurements and the who, what, when and where of ALL the activities he had conducted or taken part on at the cursed place called Oak Island.
Mr. Blankenship’s mind is nothing short of a computing miracle and he is superhuman as well, but I will share that in a moment.
According to a recent health report, the health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors. While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your sphere of influence. The six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle are:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- An active social life
Several of these you can check off on Mr. Blankenship’s list as a by-product of being a treasure hunter involved in the longest ongoing treasure hunt ever, the one on Oak Island. But #4 and #5 seem at total odds with someone who has pursued an unreachable (to date) treasure, or at the very least, answer to what lay deep in the bowels of Oak Island.
The stories of his adventures often tell tales of sleepless nights “wondering and worrying” and on top of that imagine the crushing stress loads of knowing you are “right on top of a historic breakthrough” virtually every day you have worked at it! I would call that TONS OF STRESS, yet he has excelled and thrived and more importantly survived.
Speaking of survival, consider this: We have all heard of the infamous 10x. The 8-foot hole – 230-foot deep, leading into a reported “treasure chamber”. Past stories tell of dead bodies, severed hands, swords and treasure chests.
Now, consider these added statistical facts in relation to 10x and Oak Island.
10x is 230 feet, thus only 70 feet shy of a football field, goal line to goal line. 10x is 23 stories high, or in this case 23 stories straight down in a scary black hole.
Now combine those facts with the following:
10x, when originally bored was not an 8-foot round hole (NOTE: you can drive a car through 8 feet tunnel), it was a 6 inch drill hole that was widened to 27 inches later on. 19 inches is the size round of a large toilet bowl. For scale consider this, to get to into the 27-inch 10x bore hole, it needs to add just 4 inches of clearance on either side. That is tight squeeze for sure.
The real Dan Blankenship and what amazed and inspired me about this man, over and beyond his incredibly sharp mind?
Back when 10x was a 27-inch borehole in the ground (remember not much larger around that a conventional large toilet), he entered that pipe and the depths of Oak Island. As if going 230 feet straight down in a hole bored into the unknown is not bad enough, how about these little known facts?
The 230 foot drop was a straight pipe – metal pipe – no exit, no turn around and if Dan’s wet suit would have wrinkled or his life line kinked he would have not been able to of been pulled out. Just those mere fractions of an inch added to his tight space and dissent down would have jammed him in the 10x bore pipe, forever; with no hopes of return.
Yet, fearlessly Dan entered 10x to try to solve the mystery of Oak Island, for himself, for Canada, for the World and for you and me.
As if that was not enough danger and stress added to Dan, most do not know that at any time his air hose could of kinked and cut off his air supply, which could of ended his life. Need more?
When he finally did clear the pipe known as 10x and dropped down into the cavern below (where he reported seeing treasure chest and dead bodies), he was now suspended under a ledge of rock and the metal of the pipe itself. When he was ready to be pulled up, some on top sensed he was in trouble, and started pulling the extraction line harder and they almost tore off his suit and broke his shoulder pulling him up.
If they would of broke his shoulder he would have been wedged and died inside Oak Island.
There were other mishaps that day, and sometimes mishaps go with lost history and treasure hunting: just as the ones, which have occurred with Oak Island. There are many stories to tell, but for this one it felt right to highlight what a brave, fearless and tenacious soul Dan Blankenship is, such proves those are the traits, which enable one to pursue such a legend for 50 years of their lives.
Takes much these days to impress me, but that day and everyday since meeting the treasure hunting legend in person, I am in awe of Dan Blankenship. May we all find a passion that ignites us for 50 years and may it be so intense, fulfilling and interesting that it lengthens our lives and serves to inspire others.
In my opinion, Mr. Blankenship will live to see the Oak Island Mystery solved once and for all and when the final story is told; regardless of the treasure found and the possible history it rewrites, the follow up stories which will assuredly be written will tale the tale of a man, his dream and his “never give up attitude”.