Community involvement and diving

Lees deze blog in het Nederlands

The very generous involvement of members of the international online community has been fundamental to the progress of the Closing in on the Fortuyn project. Thomas Creemers has sent information from the Netherlands that has fundamentally broadened the list of shipwrecks and the scope of team’s activities on Christmas Island.

Until recently the list of ships known and likely to have wrecked on and around Christmas Island consisted of the Fortuyn (1724), an unnamed Dutch shipwreck (prior to 1744), the Norwegian MV Eidsvold (1942), the Japanese Nissei Maru (1942), the Indonesian asylum boats SIEV X (2001) and SIEV 221 (2010) and the Panamanian registered MV Tycoon (2012).

Thomas has sent the team a wealth of information about two more Dutch ships. They are the 1100 ton Arinus Marinus and the 496 ton Vice Admiraal Rijk wrecked respectively near and on Christmas Island in 1821 and 1852. About the latter we have already written in our previous blogs, but not of the Arinus Marinus!

The Arinus Marinus

After the 1814 Treaty of Paris, Rotterdam merchants bought British ships and used them in the Dutch fleet to the Indies. The Arinus Marinus was one of these vessels, an English frigate, built in 1803 and named the Ceylon. It was purchased in 1815 by a Rotterdam shipping company. In this capacity the Arinus Marinus was taken to the Indies in 1816 for among others the trade in tea.

Photo 1

Photo 1: The Arinus Marinus as shown on a song sheet. This song is about the wrecking of the Arinus Marinus.

In 1821 the ship was loaded in Batavia for a return trip to Rotterdam. The winds took it close to Christmas Island with fatal consequences for the 200 on board, except for four of her crew. These four people floated on a piece of wood until they were found and rescued by the crew and captain of the Danish ship the Souvereign.

The Arinus Marinus had a very special cargo on board: a natural collection intended for the Museum van Naturalien in Leiden. This collection consisted of 15 boxes. Amongst these were:

  • 5 boxes that were full of stuffed animals,
  • two boxes had prepared hides and skins,
  • 4 boxes were full of skeletons,
  • 3 boxes were filled with minerals and rock samples.
  • Also on board were 36 different plants from Java for the botanical garden in Leiden.
  • a black tiger
  • and an elephant!

Photo 2 Photo 3: Loading all the gear for diving!

Diving!

We finished the survey on Thursday so on Friday and we started diving to identify magnetic anomalies! All the planning, survey, analysis and preparation now culminates in a few dives over the coming days when we hope to see something that nature does not produce :a straight line! Nature is glorious, but humans construct materials with straight lines, be it anchor stocks, cannons, or other artefacts. The appearance of a straight line in the coral is a wonderful tell-tale that some cultural material lies below. While nature does not necessarily make straight lines underwater, when it breaks up, coral can result in the appearance of straight lines. Large plate coral literally abounds in the area we are diving. This coral can form a short straight edge when broken, periodically enough to get your heart racing before hopes are dashed.

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Photo 3: Me proceeding down the shot line.

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Photo 4: We drop a shot line at the anomalies and from there we do circular searches up to 30 meter.

We also dived on the MV Eisvold and the Nissei Maru (both WWII shipwrecks) to take corrosion measurements.

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Photo 5: Drilling and taking the corrosion measurements at the Nissei Maru.

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Photo 6: The wreck of the MV Eisvold is a beautiful spot to dive!

 On Tuesday we will leave for Cocos Keeling Islands so hopefully we will be able to dive on all the locations the magnetometer gave us some abnormal reading!

Over Maritiem Programma

Het Maritiem Programma van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed houdt zich bezig met het onderzoek naar scheepswrakken, bruggen, havens en andere maritieme landschappen. Het doel is om kennis, onderzoek, beleid, samenwerking en educatie op het gebied van maritiem erfgoed in Nederland een stevige basis te geven. Het programma loopt van 2012 tot en met 2015.

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