CAPTAIN JOHN AYDELOTTE
Born in Denver, CO, Captain John M. Aydelotte, 64, spent his high school years in Germany, due to his father’s employment as a chief engineer at Boeing. After graduating high school in Munich, Germany, Captain John relocated to Washington, where he got a seasonal job fixing boats at the marina. In 1978, he founded his own boatyard, salvage and rescue boat operation, assisting the Coast Guard in helping out vessels in distress.
Now a Master Mariner with 35 years of experience, Captain John is a boat builder, salvage master, mechanic, diver and welder. His vessel assist water rescue program annually saves countless lives and boats from loss at sea. His team has received awards from the Boat US, WA State Patrol and the US Coast Guard, and has twice been bestowed the esteem of the Vessel Assist Woody Pollak Memorial Award.
Several years ago, Captain John caught the treasure fever, diving for treasure in the Caribbean and building equipment for underwater gold mining in Alaska. His role in this South African adventure is captain of the crew and to operate a diamond mining vessel. He is going to South Africa for the adventure and to strike it rich, but he also hopes to improve his turbulent relationship with his son, Jason, who will be working as a deck hand and 2nd officer. Finding diamonds will help support his family and his crew, hopefully allowing him to “keep on fishing until the money’s gone.”
Captain John currently resides in Cornet Bay, WA with his wife, Trish. In his spare time, he enjoys riding his Harley, hunting big game and restoring hot rods and antique cars.
Jason Aydelotte, 34, is Captain John’s son, and by all accounts a younger version of the Captain himself, which often leads to a clashing of too similar temperaments.
Raised in Cornet Bay, WA, Aydelotte grew up learning the family business from his father, who has been grooming him to eventually taking over. After graduating from Oak Harbor high school in ‘96, Aydelotte went into full training mode, becoming a licensed salvage and rescue diver and professional welder. He is currently on his way to becoming certified ship captain and frequently helps manage the salvage yard and work alongside his father in his vessel assist water rescue program.
Working together has always been a source of great tension between Aydelotte and his father, as their stubborn and hot head personalities are more alike than is beneficial for their relationship. Captain John hopes for his son include taking over the family business, but he is concerned his son is not disciplined enough, fighting him at every turn. Aydelotte, on the other hand, feels his father is controlling and doesn’t trust him enough to take charge. Though reluctant at first, Captain John has agreed to let his son come to South Africa to serve as a deckhand and able-bodied seaman. Aydelotte hopes for success in South Africa to prove himself to his father or get rich enough to get out of the family business.
Aydelotte currently resides in Anacortes, WA and spends his free time hiking, tinkering with machinery, riding motorcycles, fishing and lazing on the couch.
The crew is led by Captain John, a big-game hunting, Harley-Davidson riding, hardscrabble, financially-ambitious boat captain. The other crew members include Jason, the captain’s son and able-bodied seaman, whose hot headed temper is a constant source of tension and infighting with his similarly tempered father; J.R., the master mechanic and ex-Marine who can build anything and serves as the first mate; Marty, the high-energy, mohawked-expert diver who has problems with authority; Sam, Marty’s best friend and fellow expert diver; and Doc, the oldest and wildest member of the group, who will serve as ship medic and cook.
J.R. Allen, 50, was born in Springfield, OR, but spent most of his life on Whidbey Island, WA. After graduating from Oak Harbor high school in 1979, Allen joined the Marine Corps, where he studied diesel truck mechanics and graduated at the top of his class. From there, he spent the next several years working towards getting his Captain’s license, while doing machine work in the shop, fixing autos and boats.
10 years ago, Allen was involved in a serious accident, crashing his motorcycle into a motor home. His leg was shattered and he was told he would never walk again. Severe depression set in and he spent months unable and unmotivated to get off the couch, until Captain John came along and gave him a job restoring boats for him. To this day, Allen credits him for saving his life, acknowledging that if Captain John hadn’t come along; he wouldn’t be alive, much less walking. He is now one of the most respected boat mechanics in the entire Northwest.
On this journey, Allen serves as the first mate and is the “grease monkey” Master Mechanic in crew. He is a master welder who will work on fixing the machinery, the underwater pumps and any other mechanical problems with the boat. He’s heading to South Africa primarily because his captain asked him to, but he’s also looking forward to the adventure and the potential riches. With the money, he hopes to finally gain financial independence.
Allen still lives on Whidbey Island, WA and spends his free time hunting, fishing, camping, restoring antique cars and panning for gold.
Born and raised in Forks, WA, Marty House, 28, has always known he was going to become a commercial diver.
Growing up, House was shy kid up until he joined his high school football team, after which he became known for his boisterous voice and high energy. As a child, he watched a fascinating documentary on commercial diving, deciding right then and there he wanted to be a commercial diver. In order to start saving up for dive school, House began working in a restaurant while he was still in high school. After graduating from Forks High School, class of ’02, he began logging and continued this for nearly five years. During this stint, he lived briefly in Bellingham, WA, where he began working a higher paying job in hazardous tree removal. After several years of saving up, House finally reached his goal and enrolled himself in a Seattle, WA dive school, earning his certification in commercial diving and rescue diving. It was a journey that took him “from the top of the trees to the bottom of the seas.”
From there, House moved to Houston, TX, where more work in his field is located. His first year was a difficult one, as jobs were hard to come by. During this time, he worked inland, mostly on dams, marinas and lakes, fixing sailboats. Soon after, he landed a steady job working in the oil field offshore, where he spent 10 consecutive months at sea and excelled quickly.
House serves as one of the two principle divers on this South African adventure, the other being his best friend Sammy, whom he met in dive school. He is responsible for ensuring the underwater pumps are working properly at the bottom of the ocean and scouting diamond hot spots. He and Sammy are the young, fun, troublemakers of the crew, often rebelling against Captain John’s authority. House hopes to find diamonds so he can use the money to travel and provide for his mother, who is a single parent.
House currently lives in Houston, TX and enjoys hiking, hunting, fishing, sky diving, scuba diving, snowboarding, wake boarding and any other extreme sport in his spare time.
Sam Simpson, 34, has always had the sea in his blood, coming from a long line of fisherman. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Simpson grew up learning the family trade of commercial fishing alongside his four brothers. Even to this day, three of his siblings are still crab fishermen, including his brother Ryan, who crabbed on the Cornelia Maria on “Deadliest Catch.”
Simpson moved around quite a bit in his formative years, including a few years in Anacortes, WA. It was here Simpson learned how to folk dance at the age of 14, later traveling to Croatia to participate in a folk dancing troupe called the Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble. From Anacortes, he moved to Canby, OR, where he attended Canby High School, class of ’96. Realizing his natural abilities for dance, Simpson went on to study dance at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, one of the top performing arts colleges in the nation. After serving an apprenticeship with The Oregon Ballet Theater in Portland, OR and performing at Seattle’s well-known Can Can Cabaret, Simpson realized the financial strain of being a dancer would be too much to bear and decided to move on. After spending a few years working in construction, he decided to attend dive school. He’s now a certified commercial diver, welder and rescue diver. This new line of work took him to Houston, TX, where he has now lived for the past three years.
Simpson’s main role on this diamond diving adventure is diving, fixing pumps and looking for diamond hot spots. His welding and carpentry skills have also proven to be highly beneficial on the boat. He and Marty are the young, fun, troublemakers of the crew, oftentimes clashing with Captain John’s authority. Though he agreed to go to South Africa for the adventure, finding diamonds would mean some serious cash, and exactly what he needs to get out of debt.
Simpson currently lives with his girlfriend in Seabrook, TX. In his spare time he enjoys surfing, barbecuing and building.
WILLIAM “DOC” SLETTEVOLD
Doc, 67, is not only the oldest member of the Washington crew, but the wildest. Few things eclipse his love of adventure, and his “anything goes” attitude makes any journey an interesting one.
Born in Bremerton, WA, Doc grew up in Seattle, WA. He was raised in a family of construction workers and learned the ins and outs of building houses early on. His family also owned a boat, which prompted Doc to become an adept seaman, even spending some time as a skipper on a landing craft in the service. Though most of his career was spent in construction, he has also tried his hand in sales and trading; trading cars, boats and hot rods.
Doc first met Captain John years ago at a local fisherman’s bar. Though their first meeting almost ended in fisticuffs, they soon became fast friends and have been ever since. Now retired, Doc still helps Captain John here and there when he needs an extra pair of hands. On this South African adventure, he will serve as the ship’s cook, medic and deckhand. Doc is more interested in the adventure and facing down sharks then he is in getting rich, but if he were to hit it big, he would buy himself a resort in the Philippines.
After retiring, Doc bought an apple orchard in eastern Washington, where he spends much of his time. The rest of his time is split between Quartzsite, AZ and the Philippines. He enjoys traveling and working on hot rods and boats.