Tagarchief: diving

And then it was the last day…

We have spent the couple of days approximately 20 hours underwater, with each time effectively 25 minutes dive time at 24 metres. We have covered a large area and managed to map the site reasonably well. We go back with measurements, film and photo footages, drawings and observations. Now we have to put this all together to create a good site plan and to answer our scientific questions. We have it all and will thus be able to come up with a recommendation for the future, and perhaps a future excavation proposal, depending on the further analysis of the results. It’s all very exciting!

One thing is sure, we had a great time working together with the different groups. I would like to thank all of them, not only for the diving but also for all the discussions we had, the exchange of knowledge and all the fun. In the end, a beautiful project like this should be enjoyed, and we did with a smile even while making days from 5 o’clock to 23h.

So thank you, the team in Ramsgate:  Mark James, Alex Hildred, Dan Pascoe, Johan Opdebeeck, Pete Magowan, Mark Hobbs, Graham Scott, Paolo Croce, Thijs Coenen and Kester Keighley

The lovely Dan (Poppy) and Ben of our ship The Predator (project savers)

Alison James, Angela Middleton and Mark Dunkley from Historic England

Peter Holt for being our telephone hotline for Side Recorder

Peter Hamer for equipment maintenance and delivery

Pidge the cook

Kai Dieho the camera man

Willemien van de Langemheen and Debbie Hickman for the wonderful job they did to communicate the project to the outside world and to maintain contact with the press

And last but by no means least: Ken Welling, the licensee of the Rooswijk shipwreck, for sharing the enormous amount of information he gathered about the site with us, as Rex Cowan did, thank you both.

It was a huge success and let’s do it again!

Martijn Manders

Photo above: The team! From left to right: Martijn Manders, Thijs Coenen, Ben, Dan (Poppy), Peter Magowan, Mark Hobbs, Paolo Croce, Kai Dieho, Johan Opdebeeck, Mark James, Alison James, Alex Hildred, Dan Pascoe, Kester Keighley (missing: Graham Scott who took the photo!)

 

 

The Rooswijk 1740, an update

Today we give you a short update about the work that the joint Dutch-English team of archaeologists is doing on the Rooswijk shipwreck.

The Rooswijk was a Dutch East Indian (VOC) ship that sank on an outbound journey on the Goodwin Sands in the UK, one day after it left the Texel Roads. All hands were lost and the wreck is now lying at approximately 24 metres depth.

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The dive team that worked on the site in 2005 gathered a  lot of information on site and lifted – amongst others – silver and gold coins and silver ingots. The information gathered at that time has not been published yet, but also lacks sufficient context with the ship construction.

Historic England designated the wreck site in 2007 under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/protected-wreck-sites/wreck/rooswijk).

Current information has shown that the site is under threat of erosion of the seabed. The Goodwin Sands is a very dynamic area with huge sandbanks moving constantly.  This also became evident by comparing sonar recordings of 2015 and July 2016.

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The team wants to investigate how much the site is threatened, but also where this extra information to connect objects to the wreck can be found. The current research could lead to an extensive excavation which may possibly be conducted in the next coming years.

Before such an undertaking can be executed more information should be gathered about the condition of wood, iron and other material, about the best place to start an excavation and how this research could be best executed.

The team consists of archaeologists from the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), Historic England, the former dive team working on the site in 2005, Wessex Archaeology (the contractor for Historic England) and MSDS Marine, the current dive contractor.  We are working on the dive support vessel Predator from Essex.

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We are now 5 days on our way. The sun is shining constantly and the first days the weather was very good on the site. The visibility as well (approx. 2 metres). However, wind has picked up from the wrong direction now and we have lost a few tides on Thursday and Friday.

The site has however been found, canons have been identified and we are now working on mapping the Rooswijk shipwreck in order to bring back as much information as possible to start planning method, cost and people needed for the much bigger research that we may execute again with a large international team. Other options will also be taken into account  like (temporary) in situ preservation.  This all depends on what we will find.

The diving will finish on the 15th of September. The project already generated a lot of publicity and general interest in the Netherlands as well as in the UK.

More about the Rooswijk project:

Historic England (press release)

Cultural Heritage Agency (in Dutch) (persbericht)

Follow the project on Twitter using #Rooswijk1740

Continuing the Van Bosse research on Tarama: agreeing on future activities

The past few days were devoted to exploring the possibilities to learn more about the wreck Van Bosse which sank in 1857 off the coast of Tarama. By conducting several interviews with residents, who have been narrated stories about the wreck by their ancestors, but also with information from local books and archives we are able to develop scenarios about how the ship must have sunk after being leak bumped on the reef. This again helps us with the search for the wreck itself.

We have found objects, like an anchor, a bottle of gin, a huge chest and shards of major Chinese jars that may also have been on board the ship. But parts of the ship itself are still not found. Dr. Ikeda and Mr. Sasaki will focus their attention on this in November. Using a metal detector they will search the impact site, where most objects are found and everything in between will be swum and explored.

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The beach of Tarama at the spot where the Van Bosse ship presumably sank

At the same time they will continue to conduct interviews with the people of Tarama who know the stories about the wreck. An information project with the elementary school will be launched. In November, the children on the island can meet archaeologists and interview them for the project. In the Netherlands and Germany we will do further research into the archives.

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Meeting with the head of the island

The Van Bosse project is alive! It’s interesting and amazing to see how excited everyone is. The administration of the island would like to do more with the story and the wreck site. It would indeed give the particularly beautiful diving at Tarama an additional cultural and historical dimension. Then it becomes even more worthwhile to travel over here and visit this island paradise, voted one of the most beautiful municipalities of Japan.

Martijn Manders, maritime archaeologist / Head Maritime Programme RCE

Photo at the top: the highest point of the island, about 30 m, with a 15 / 16th century lighthouse

 

Searching underwater for the Van Bosse ship (1857)

A team of underwater archaeologists consisting of two members of the Japanese National Committee for Research and the Examination of Underwater Cultural Heritage Dr. Ikeda and Dr. Kimura, as well as mr. Sasaki from the National Museum of Kyushu and mr. Manders from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands has arrived on Tarama island. This is one of the most Southwestern Islands of the Japanese archipelago, actually very close to Taiwan.

In November a Japanese team of professional archaeologists and sports divers associated with the only dive school on the island – Jaws 2 – will map and assess the site of the Van Bosse wreck and make it accessible for the sports divers who spend their holidays on the island. The visit now in August is mainly initiated as a start of the project about the Van Bosse shipwreck which includes also educational elements and archival research in several countries. The 22nd of August the team was welcomed by the department of education of the island that effectively is responsible for the management of this and other archaeological sites. They have assured us that all help in this is welcome. After this meeting we went to the dive shop to sort out our gears and then settled down in our condo which we share together.

The evening was used to discuss the possibilities to find elements of the wrecksite underwater and to pinpoint the exact place of wreckage, which is still not completely known. Dr. Kaneda wrote in 2001 an article ‘Historical Investigation concerning the Dutch Ship Van Bosse Wrecked Off the coast of the Tarama Islet’ and this article has also been discussed between the archaeologists in order to find out what the chances of finding wreckage are and what kind of research should be further conducted.

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The morning on the 23rd we were up early to go diving from the beach to the place where the ship according to accounts must have wrecked and where a fisherman has salvaged many pottery over the years. Indeed by walking on the beach we collected many pottery shards of different kinds. These are however mainly Chinese.

The coastal waters around the island Tarama are very shallow and abruptly become much deeper with here and there dangerous rocks ending just a few meters under the sea surface. For somebody who is not acquainted with these waters, it is a dangerous place. The underwater world, just at the edge of shallow and deep is however stunningly beautiful!

The second dive today was in deeper waters with the dive shop Jaws 2 and their ship. At 28 meters of depth, again on the edge of where the water gets very shallow and  near the place we had been diving in the morning, a considerable amount of pottery shards from large Chinese storage jars can be seen lying on the seabed. Were these used at the Van Bosse ship? It came from China…

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Also an enormous iron crate was discovered. Definitely something has happened here. The area however is large and the research in November should reveal the size of the site and maybe even also the location of impact: where the ship has hit the reef.

Tonight we will talk with an old fisherman. Let’s see if he can help us out.  Tomorrow, the 24th we are invited by the head of the island, similar to a mayor and in the afternoon we have a round up with the advisory board of the heritage of Tarama. Then up to Fukuoka for further talks at the Kyushu National Museum, our partner in shared heritage management.

Martijn Manders, maritime archaeologist/Head Maritime Programme RCE

Japanese – Dutch research on shipwreck Van Bosse about to begin

In August, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) is joining forces with the Kyushu National Museum to conduct an exploratory research on the Dutch shipwreck Van Bosse. The research focuses on exploring opportunities for mapping the Van Bosse and providing accessibility to the wreck for local sports divers. The project is a continuation of existing cooperation with Japan in the field of maritime archeology within the framework of Dutch Shared Cultural Heritage policy. The site of this Dutch wreck is already protected locally. The ship was built in Germany, but registered by the Dutch owner in Rotterdam.

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The ship Van Bosse was originally built in 1854 in Germany. The 665t big three master barque, which was employed by the Bonke & Co. Trading in Rotterdam was on its way from Shanghai to Singapore when it sank during a storm in 1857 at Tarama island, Okinawa prefecture. Luckily all 27 people on board survived, but before they could return to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies, people stayed several months in Okinawa and integrated into the local community.

The story of the sinking of the Van Bosse and the interaction of the people of Tarama with the crew of the ship are recorded in detail. It gives us a good insight into the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the relationship that it had with foreign powers at a time when the self-isolationism of Japan had just been lifted. It is striking that until few years ago nobody knew exactly what ship it was, although the story of the sinking of the ship was well known. We know it now, thanks to extensive research in Dutch archives.

The Van Bosse shipwreck is registered as a Village Historic Site (オ ラ ン ダ 船 遭難 の 地: Oranda-sen Sonan no Chi ~ Site of Dutch ship wreck). It lies on a reef at depths ranging from a few meters to about 30 meters. Over the years, an iron anchor was lifted, which is on display in a local museum, and several other finds such as a complete Lucas Bols gin bottle and some salvaged porcelain shards.

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However, there’s more to be found. Despite the protected status of the ship an archeological significance assessment of the wreck site has not yet been made. This will take place this autumn and is having its official start now in August, with a first joint visit to the site. Ultimately this will lead to a management plan for the site in which all interests should be taken into account. The Van Bosse wreck is already dived regularly by sport divers. A local dive shop has voluntarily undertaken protection of the site. The local authorities are working on an active promotion. The aim is to use the wreck to attract more recreational divers to the island. But what measures are necessary to facilitate an intensive visit of sports divers? How, for example, can the remains underwater be protected while still visible and accessible to visitors? And there is need for more information about the site to allow divers to fully experience the wreck and its history when they are underwater.

In August Dr. Ikeda from the University of Okinawa, Dr. Jun Kimura of the Tokai University in Tokyo (with students), Randy Sasaki of the Kyushu National Museum and Martijn Manders (RCE)  will officially start the project. In November, the Japanese partners will conduct follow-up research historical research in the Netherlands and Germany will be coordinated by the RCE.

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Late August the World Archaeological Congress (WAC http://wac8.org/) will be held in Kyoto, Japan. As part of the Japanese – Dutch cooperation Martijn Manders and Yoshihi Akashi will represent the Fukuoka prefecture and chair the session ‘Global Perspectives on Underwater Cultural Heritage Management’. The presentations will elaborate on universal values of the underwater cultural heritage management, what needs to be improved in management and the way countries can cooperate in the protection of underwater cultural heritage. This fits exactly with the way the research on the Van Bosse shipwreck is implemented: a collaboration between various parties in the country where the ship sank, Japan, and the country of origin, the Netherlands.

Martijn Manders, maritime archaeologist/Head Maritime Programme RCE

Studying maritime archaeology in Esbjerg: the second semester

Time flies, and the second semester of the Maritime Programme in Esbjerg is almost over! This second semester consisted of four courses:

  • Maritime Material Culture
  • IT & Remote Sensing
  • Preparation for the field school
  • Special Topics

Maritime Material Culture
During this course, we got introduced to different maritime material cultures from the Stone Age to the present day. We learned all about material such as pottery, cannons, anchors and many other objects. To learn more about ceramics from the Mediterranean our class went to Odense, where they have a big collection of Mediterranean artefacts. Also an important part of this course was ship construction from different centuries and areas. We went to the Roskilde Viking museum to learn more about Viking ship construction, and about experimental archaeology. We got a very interesting presentation on the famous ship burial Oseberg, which was found in Norway and dates to around 820 AD. After that we got a tour through the boat building wharf, and had a chance to look at the five Skuldelev ships inside the museum. In June we are going to sail on one of the reconstructed Viking ships!

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Nicole looking at some Egyptian ceramics.

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We got an explanation on experimental archaeology during the tour of the boat building wharf.

IT & Remote Sensing
This course is a continuation of the methods course in the first semester, and is more practical. During this course we learned how to work with the software QGIS and with Inkscape. We learned how to make logos and how to digitalize field drawings in Inkscape, and how to analyse data and make maps with QGIS. Part of the course was a visit to Schleswig, where we could see how a sub-bottom profiler works, and how to do a survey with such a device. With a sub-bottom profiler, it is possible to detect archaeological sites and wrecks partially or wholly embedded in the sea-floor sediments. Unfortunately, nothing was found during this expedition. While we were in Schleswig, we got time to check out the early 4th century Nydam boat, which is on display in the Gottorp castle. It was much more impressive in real-life than you would expect. The boat is well over 23 m long and there was place for 30 rowers. This boat is one of the earliest examples of clinker (overlapping planks) construction.

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The sub-bottom profiler in action, the data that is received can be seen on the monitor.
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The Nydam boat at the Gottorp castle.

Field school
The field school this year takes place in June in northern Germany. We are going to record a 16th century carvel-built ship. To prepare for this field school we made a plan which details how we are going to clean, dive and record the shipwreck. Next school year, after the field school is done, we have to make a report of the recording.

Special Topics
Special Topics is a course, which is focused on the field school. In order to better ‘understand’ the 16th century shipwreck, we have researched shipbuilding construction from around the same time period. The class has been divided into different groups for this, and each group is looking into shipwrecks from a specific region. The different groups are: British Isles, Baltic Sea, Dutch, Mediterranean and French. Guess what we did.. A database has been created in which the different construction elements of each of these shipwrecks have been saved, and a summary has been written for each shipwreck. Once the shipwreck has been recorded this database can be used to compare the construction elements to those from other shipwrecks.

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The Riberhus castle ruins.

Besides the courses, we are also part of the Maritime Archaeology Society Esbjerg (MASE), which is a student organization by students from the Maritime Programme. For MASE we are trying to organize as many things as possible for our program, mainly maritime related, which is hard because we are really busy with the courses and self-study. So far we organised a party, several film nights and a little excursion to the Ribe Viking museum, and we also visited the ruins of Riberhus castle. In May we are going to the International Viking market in Ribe, which will take place in the Ribe Viking Center. Reenactors recreate an authentic Viking market there. We are looking forward to that, and after the field school we will let you know how it was!

Robert & Nicole

Cocos Keeling islands: Searching for ivory as indicator to wrecks

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The Wreck Check team were conscious that the 7-day stay on Cocos Keeling Islands was a narrow window of survey opportunity, but luckily we were able to go out on the water everyday. North Keeling, the top survey priority, is 28 km due north from the main atoll and the gap between each island is subject to deep ocean swells. Operating out of the six-meter-long Park’s boat Pulu Bill the journey was bouncy at times as we punched into deep ocean swells.

We surveyed a lot of parts of the island with the magnetometer again and besides that we visited sites of known wrecks to document them using photogrammetry and by doing corrosion measurements. One of the highlights of this week was diving on the SMS Emden, see the previous blog.

Monday was the last day of fieldwork on Cocos Island and for this season. We have completed the survey around Turks Reef and Horsburgh Island. Except for our first day on the water, over the week on Cocos Island we have contended with 10-15 knot SE winds and swell 1-2 meters. This has definitely limited our opportunities to survey and dive in our target areas. To exacerbate the difficulties, targets in the 6 – 8 meter depth contour around the atoll are usually just out of the surf zone making safe access and exit enormously problematic in large swell. Besides Turks Reef and Horsburg Island we were able to survey the south and parts of the west side of West Island, the north and west side of Direction Island. These were the most important parts of the island to survey as ships would have passed here because of the shipping route at that time.

The Cocos-Keeling Islands.

As always we have worked hard to achieve what could be done within the parameters of weather. Work inside the lagoon is possible and several sites have been dived and surveyed when weather has driven us back into the lagoon. We dived a SIEV (Suspected Illegal Entry Vehicle) that was found last year, a working barge, an unidentified wreck that we think is the Robert Portner. and we also snorkeled at the Phaeton wreck site. At all these sites we took pictures and video for photogrammetry and where possible with the current and swell we also did corrosion measurements.

While information collected from the Emden continues to be worked up our primary quest to search for the Fortuyn has been heavily impacted. Progress was made on following up on a report to the Queensland Museum in the 1980’s of a discovery of an elephant tusk at the southern end of the runway on West Island. This is relevant because another VoC shipwreck the Aagtekerke is reported as carrying elephant tusks. The team were able to walk the beach area and surveyed directly off shore with the magnetometer.

On the last day we were are all packing, backing up data and getting ready to fly home. Still, in the time left in the morning Graeme and Andy managed to squeeze in talking to four classes ranging from Kindergarten to grades 3-4 on Home Island. Some great questions and lots of good engagement from the students.

Team member Andrew Viduka talking to the school kids on Home Island.
Team member Andrew Viduka talking to the school kids on Home Island.

While the next steps for the team are to process collected data over the coming months from the magnetometer surveys, the photogrammetry and the corrosion measurements, we would now like to recognize the wonderful support of our partner, sponsors and supporters who enabled this fieldwork to be undertaken. Our research partner the Maritime Programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Culture, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia, Silent World Foundation, Parks Australia and the Australian Government Department of the Environment. We would also like to recognize the excellent contribution to this years fieldwork by Shinatria Adhityatama (ARKENAS, Indonesia) and Robert de Hoop (University of Southern Denmark). Without the significant support of the Maritime Programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Culture their attendance would not have been possible. Special thanks to Rob Muller, Ishmael MacRae and Trish Flores of Parks Australia for the assistance.

More insight in the thirty shipwrecks around Christmas Island

We are now reasonably confident that the 1724 Fortuyn does not lie between 0-30 meters in the water off Christmas Island. We have re-run the priority areas on the south-west side of the island with a more sensitive magnetometer (for detecting magnetic iron objects such as anchors and cannon) than we employed in 2015. Divers have visually inspected all of the promising anomalies without seeing cultural material. Some of the anomalies have been discounted because they appear to have been affected by the magnetic basalt rock forming the core of the island.

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We did some more photogrammetry in the last couple

We did some more photogrammetry in the last couple of days to hone our skills. This time we tried to do an object underwater and chose a mooring anchor. The computer is still crunching the data so we’ll show you the result in the next blog!

Christmas Island is fringed with a thick underwater coral platform. Its width varies and most of it slopes gently before curving steeply downward into the depths. During the last two weeks we have been following up on stories from the Dutch Facebook followers and the Christmas Island community about other shipwrecks here or nearby, in particular the Dutch ships, the 1100 ton Arinus Marinus wrecked in 1821 and the 500 ton Vice Admiraal Rijk wrecked in 1852, but also a lot of others.

The Dutch ship named the Vice Admiraal Rijk was lost on the south-west side of the island in 1852. Three men survived, managing to scale the cliffs and living ashore on raw seabirds for 57 days before being rescued by another passing ship. One of the three men left a detailed account of the wreck and his experience on the island. Around midnight the ship crashed onto the cliffs on the north side of the south-west point, breaking a large hole in the bow before turning out from the cliffs and immediately sinking entirely below the waves, with all sails still set.

We regard the Vice Admiraal Rijk as a useful model for assessing what would have happened to the Fortuyn if it struck the south-west coast. So we placed a major focus on inspecting the north side of the south-west point, carrying out a visual inspection of the anomalies and then swimming abreast along the coral platform. We saw no wreckage.

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We inspected all the anomalies on the north side of the south-west point using divers and then swam abreast along the coral platform

The coral covering on the Eisvold, a 1942 shipwreck elsewhere on the island, is up to 0.5 meters thick, and coral would be expected to conceal smaller cultural objects on a wreck on south-west point. However, if the Vice Admiraal Rijk had broken up on the platform we should have seen objects such as large anchors protruding above the coral. Much of the platform there is only around 50 meters wide, with a vertical drop off into some 90 meters water depth. The Vice Admiraal Rijk must have slipped over the precipice without first breaking up.

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Much of the platform is only around 50 meters wide, with a vertical drop off into some 90 meters water depth

Our theorizing, about whether a vessel striking the cliffs would break up against the cliffs or bounce back from the cliffs and slide off the platform into deep water, was based on accounts of the sinking in 2010, near Flying Fish Cove, of the asylum boat SIEV 221. Residents saw that that vessel was trapped between the swells and the backwash, in a ‘washing machine’ effect.

At the south-west point we saw a lot of small pieces of plastic bags suspended in the water column –  plastic brought from Indonesia on southerly water currents, then trapped close to the cliffs in the same washing machine effect. It appears then, that this would trap small items such as plastic bags, and even a medium sized object such as the SIEV 221 (a light wooden fishing vessel probably under 20 metres). However, probably not such a large object as the 35-metre hull of the Vice Admiraal Rijk. If this wreck has not been trapped by the violent pushing of the waves and swells, then probably the larger, 800 ton and 44-metre long Fortuyn wouldn’t either and may have slipped well beyond the 30-metres depth limit of our search.

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At the south-west point we saw a lot of small pieces of plastic bags suspended in the water column – plastic brought from Indonesia on southerly water currents, then trapped close to the cliffs in the washing machine effect

Will we ever know? There is a slight chance of finding the wreck at Cocos Keeling. We will find out in the next coming week! The diving on Christmas Island gave us lot of new insights on other – some of them also Dutch – wrecks and a list of 30 shipwrecks that may have been foundered close to Christmas Island. School children have been taught about their past and the students on the project, me and Shinatria, have had a great time so far, learning enormously about the search for shipwreck. But we are not ready yet!

Cocos Keeling, here we come!

 

 

 

Remote sensing process & the big blue

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Remote sensing

A crucial element in the project is the remote sensing process. The aim is to acquire, process, analyze and interpret the data and to let this follow by diving on targeted locations.

We have acquired the data with a seaborne magnetometer. This device measures distortions in the natural earth’s magnetic field through the presence of iron (or ferrous) material on or under the seabed. The magnetometer is towed on a cable behind the survey vessel, sending readings up the cable to a tablet, which logs the data and provides positioning through a GPS.

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Photo 1: The results of magnetic testing over know iron wreck site, Eidsvold, at Christmas Island. The image on the left clearly show distortions in the earth’s magnetic field, caused by the presence of the wreck. The three lines show the track of the survey vessel. The image on the right show a profile of a transect line across the sight with the clear characteristic ‘dipole’.

The tablet also helps the skipper to navigate along per-positioned lines called transects. These lines have been carefully arranged in mapping software to be straight, and parallel. Narrow line spacing is required to allow sufficient coverage.

Once the data is brought back ashore, it is reviewed on laptops with specialized software. This process allows for the earth’s magnetic field to be displayed and any distortions detected. Interpretation happens next.

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Photo 2: A magnetic anomaly discovered in the post-processing phase of the remote sensing component in the search. The anomaly is clearly seen in the paler contour lines, along with depth contour lines. This anomaly is approximately 85 by 160 meters.

A list of potential sites is produced, and the most promising analyzed more closely. Mapping software allows for the precise positioning for the deployment of divers. Circular shapes are created and placed within the mapping software, which gives a very accurate indication of depths, and can thus inform the dive plan. In this case planning for circular dive searches.

This positioning information is then fed into the tablet, enabling precise navigation to each target.

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Photo 3: Mapping and other specialized software enable the blending of magnetic isometric lines (black) and magnetic anomalies (blue and yellow), with bathymetric contour lines (white) and planned circular dive searches (red).

The entire work flow, carried out by Alex Moss and James Parkinson enables the team to react to information gathered in the field, a sort of ‘reflexive methodology’.

Penultimate day of diving on Christmas Island

Waterlogged is the best way to describe the way we all feel after the last few days. Whether diving or on the boat we have been wet. Some rain showers were so strong it was a drier feeling in the water than out of it! Sadly, our time on Christmas Island is coming to a close and we have not discovered any archaeological material that would bring us closer to the Fortuyn. While we have not yet managed to dive all the identified magnetic anomalies our time is running out. But let’s keep our fingers crossed.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR3506.Photo 4: Me descending down the shotline.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR3534.Photo 5: Alex Moss doing a 30 meter circular search. The other diver holds the line at 15 meter and makes sure the line doesn’t get caught.

Today we dived sites off the West coast and because of the very calm conditions were able to swim survey from Egeria Point northwards to Winifred Beach. The difficulty of finding a site in the 30 meter depth range available to us as divers was made very evident during that transect, as several times we encountered a vertical drop off to far greater depths not more than 50 meters from the coastline. A very small shelf for a shipwreck or shipwreck debris to stay attached to!

DCIM100GOPROPhoto 6: Graeme and Shinatria after their circular search.

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Photo 7: The MV Eisvold shipwreck is a beautiful place to dive!

Our next blog will be the last from Christmas Island, before we go to Cocos Keeling. Stay tuned!

Community involvement and diving

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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.

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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!