This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we’ll be bringing you each week.
When we returned to the site on Thursday, the majority of our equipment was buried under about 2 feet of sediment! The morning was spent digging out the grid frames and getting ourselves back to where we were the week before. By the afternoon when low tide came upon us it was time to recover the artifacts from unit 228. Some of the worst visibility can be experienced at low tide and this time was no different. In situations such as these it is best to have a minimum number of people in the hole just for safety as you have to navigate with a lift basket around hoses, lines and the main ballast pile with artifacts proud of the seafloor. This crew is very experienced in dark water diving, so by the end of the day the majority of the artifacts, mainly ballast stones, were removed from unit 228. The crew worked an extra-long day seeing how three days during the week were missed, the first ever 7 a.m.-7 p.m. shift was put in on the QAR site! The crew celebrated with dinner at No Name Pizza, a time-honored tradition with this project.
The long hours the crew put in on the previous day really paid off on Friday. High tide was at the perfect time during the day to have great visibility for the recovery of artifacts. The simple fact that one can see makes working underwater so much more efficient. When the visibility is good we usually have four people working on the recovery of a unit. One diver is mapping, one diver is digging, one diver is tagging artifacts and handing them to the diver manning the lift basket, which makes working through units so much faster. By the end of the day we completed two units (228 & 229) with the majority of 230 recovered. The site was closed up for the weekend as we secured our dredges and grid frames.
Some additions to the crew this week were Shanna Daniel, QAR Conservator and Dave “Framis” Wertheimer of Nautilus Productions. Shanna came out from the lab to help with artifact recovery and post processing. Dave shot video of the topside activities that go on but managed to find himself put to work on the sluice box from time to time. We enjoyed having them out but only wish the weather was better for their visit.
The weather looks great for today, so it will hopefully be another productive week.