Not every treasure hunt ends in success.
But Barrie resident Dieter Mueller says he's proud to say his search for the lost case of whisky didn’t leave him disappointed.
With the help of local dive experts Dave Davison and his pal Adam Blokzyl, Mueller set out on Otter Lake in the Parry Sound area last Thursday to see if they could locate the sunken treasure, which Mueller says sunk to the bottom of the lake in 1964 when a thirsty neighbour crashed his small boat into the dock late one night.
Mueller even tried to locate the bottles himself when he was a teenager, but was unsuccessful.
This time, he told BarrieToday, he did not leave empty-handed.
“I tried to dive for it and a skin diver can only go down 12 feet or so and the whisky bottles were at 20 feet. I was close, but not close enough,” he said of his attempt back in the '60s.
Last week’s discovery has left him feeling vindicated after all these years.
“It was unbelievable. I was ecstatic. There were so many naysayers and doubting Thomases and basically it was like I have achieved something people thought was impossible. … Josh (Gates) from Expedition Unknown, in your face! At least I found the treasures.”
The team of adventurers met up at the Otter Lake Marina the morning of July 15 to plot out their plan.
As they made their way out on the lake, the weather turned and the skies opened up and dumped “buckets of rain” down on them.
But that didn’t dampen their spirits or their sense of adventure. They persevered.
“That is all part of the adventure. I am an outdoorsman and am quite used to that kind of weather. The divers didn’t care, (because) they had dry suits on,” Mueller said.
Davison ultimately discovered three bottles as they were just about to finish the dive, noted Mueller. Although two of the vessels were ruined, the third bottle was sealed and full, the liquid inside totally clear.
“It was whisky! The labels (had) disintegrated, and the Gooderham & Worts company stopped making whisky like this in the early 1990s," Mueller said excitedly. "The case of whisky was lost in 1964… and whisky is usually aged 12 years before it’s sold. So this stuff could be 69 years old!”
In one of the videos provided to BarrieToday, Davison can be heard commenting that he believes there are more bottles located at the underwater site, but they were buried under debris.
“Diver Dave said there was more down there and (that he) was coming back,” said Mueller, adding Davison also found a toy boat down on the lake bottom. “We had just talked about if (Friehart’s) boat had sunk, and I couldn’t remember. Then he came up and said, 'Dieter, I found your boat!'”
While being proven right definitely felt good, Mueller says he was just happy to get out and be part of an adventure.
“Watching Dave come up with a brown bottle clenched to his chest (was the best part) and saying 'I found it.' I was vindicated. We were successful,” he said.
Making new friends and having an adventure were just as important, Mueller added.
“At my age, they don’t come too often, so this was a wonderful trip.”