Friday, August 3, 2007

Boats, squid, reef and wreckage

I got a whole shopping list of stuff I want to have shipped to Massachusetts in the next couple weeks, where I will pick it up and carry it back on the plane with me. I need a Clarion Amp, some kind of tower speakers for the T-top, an adapter so I can play the Ipod the amp, something to stick in the rod holders to spread our trolling rods out, some kind of horn for the boat...I am trying to find one supplier that has everything, so I can order it all from one vendor, but prices are all over the place.

Ain't even left the islands yet, and already I want to come back home!!

It can get frustrating sometimes when I can't just bop on down to the mall and buy what I want....but then I remind myself that shopping plazas and malls and fast food and red lights and traffic jams and all that stuff I left behind.....well....its not all that bad. Its a trade-off. Convenience for quality of life, I think.

Here's some folks off Ft. George Cay:

One of Big Blue's boats, out of Leeward. They do diving, including tech diving, and eco tours on kayaks. Cats are pretty popular here, of course.

And its always five o'clock....somewhere..

Here's a photo, flying right seat into Pine Cay:

Sorry for the fade,but the plastic windshield has seen better days.

Squid Squad:

The closer I got, the darker THEY got..

Ok, now this is kinda strange. I was just now flipping thru some of my underwater pix looking for stuff to post here, like the squid. I took a quick look at this one, and was about to move on when I noticed something. I was trying to get the pic of the fish hiding under the staghorn coral, and obviously my flash was off. So, I basically haven't even looked at it much until today. Surprised I didn't delete it, cause I delete about half of what I take. But then I noticed the thing in the lower right corner of the frame.

This is in an area about 1000 yards long where we have found ballast stones, pieces of 1700's bottles, firebricks, and a heavy gudgeon (posted earlier) that all points to a sizeable European wreck broken up across the reef sometimes in the early half of the 1700's. Its a little over a mile offshore. Anyhow, the thing in the lower right corner doesn't look like coral, or anything modern to me. This is the first time I noticed it, because I was chasing fish that day. Not treasure hunting.

Dang it, this is just the kinda thing that will drive me nuts until I go back out there and find it and see if its natural or part of that ancient wreck.

It's not that simple. I have GPS on some parts of the site, and I know generally where we were that day, but we were not in "wreck-hunting" mode.... If I had spotted this while we were diving, I would have taken a fix on it.....but I hadn't noticed it until I looked at that photo today. I will have to try to find it again....

Here's a photo of some of the stuff we have brought up. The first stone on the wall is a ballast stone, blue slate, which means the Azores, probably a Spanish wreck. Some of the bottles I posted earlier, dated 1700-1720, roughly. Behind the ballast stone are a row of bricks, some red-clay, and the lighter ones are fire bricks. So this was a European boat from the 1700s big enough to have a brick stove on board. I also have some photos of a gudgeon pintle set from it. Its heavy enough that I can barely lift it off the bottom. I leave iron stuff in place now, and just mark them with GPS.

This is a piece of encrusted stuff I brought up, its was about 18" long.

But it got dropped, and broke open across the middle. You can see exposed wood, and also a round, iron pipe of some kind. I don't know what else is encrusted with it.

It looks like a pistol, as possibly the lock, trigger, and part of the barrel of some smoothbore. It's got a wider piece at one end, maybe part of a stock? If you look at the photo of the two ends where it broke, that wood piece and the smooth steel "barrel" shaped piece line up. They don't line up in the photo because the half on the right is sitting on something that could well be a trigger guard. actually, it would make more sense if it was a hammer on top, with a wooden stock underneath.

We have thousands of photos, and am taking more all the time. Unfortunately, in the past month my underwater housing broke for one camera, and another camera just crapped out, as well. Its about time for me to get a new, better camera, anyhow.

This is one of the bottle bottoms. We picked up about a dozen, all in the area where the brick oven obviously crashed through the hull:

I think it's pretty cool that the last hand to touch these before mine was three hundred years ago. What a tale they could tell, huh?

Another encrusted iron fragment. They are very hard to spot with the naked eye lying on the bottom. I need to cultivate a friendship with the people who run the x-ray machine at the airport here. Would be a good way to see whats inside these pieces. This one, to me, looks like a hinge, or some other piece of hardware encrusted to the top of one of the ballast stone fragments:

This is from the bale of an early 1800's anchor we brought up. Its not from the same wreck as the other stuff. you can see the tarred hemp twine still wrapped around it as chafing gear.

I have realized that I have posted several photos more than once. Sorry about that. I didn't realize I would end up putting so many photos up on the forum thread, so I really didn't keep any kind of log. I'll try to just post fresh stuff from now on.

I quit messing with this piece because its so fragile. I don't have the tank and stuff to do a proper job on it, yet. I am now leaving any metal pieces in place and just marking them with GPS. The water is so clear, if the GPS gets me within 50 ft. (which is easy) I can see it as soon as I hop overboard. But its tough to make out, with the encrustation and a covering of fine silt. It makes it all look like the surrounding seafloor.

For example, this is one of the gudgeon/pintles from the site. Its pretty heavy, and there should be at least one, if not two or three more in the same area. Its about three feet across. So, this is where the stern of the boat was breaking apart; (meaning it's near where some of the good stuff from the Captains quarters and any paying customers would have been!!)

We look for odd shapes, or straight lines, or circles....anything you wouldn't expect to see in the normal irregular jumble. Of course, an u/w metal detector would make it really interesting. We can get about four hours diving in this shallow water with a half gallon of gas in our hookah setup. No decomp time to worry about on the reef, although I do keep track of time and depth.

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