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Posts Tagged ‘Updates from the Field’

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. 

Strong winds and rain kept us from getting out onsite the first three days of week five.  We were able to keep busy processing ballast stones and panning sediment from exterior units to make sure we didn’t need to extend our excavation limits.  After two days of looking at micro artifacts, the crew was very excited to get a “behind the scenes” tour of the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium from Ethan Simmons on Wednesday.  Thursday and Friday the weather was great, so we finished out the week strong working two very long days on site.

Jonathan Bird of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World was a guest with our project this week.  Originally we planned to have his crew out on site for two days to get some artifact excavation and recovery, and one day in the lab to get the other side of the story.  Weather dictated otherwise, but we were able to get his crew to the lab, to the museum and on site during the course of the week.  Since Thursday was our first day on site in six days, we were not at a point where we could excavate and recover but we did manage to get him on site helping out with some in situ monitoring of anchors and cannon.  We enjoyed having Jonathan and his crew on board and look forward to seeing his show about the QAR.

Thursday was spent digging out part of the pile, exposing large artifacts for corrosion monitoring.  A2 was tested and a new anode was installed to continue cathodic protection.  C7, C6, C11 and C8 were all tested, C6 was the only other cannon that was not so heavily concreted it could accept an anode.  There are three more cannon at the pile to test, so this will be done in the coming week.  Before the end of the season, all artifacts that have had an anode installed will be tested again.

Friday was busy but the crew was able to knock out two more units that were laden with ballast stones and a few large concretions.  By the time we made it back to the dockside it was getting dark so we stored the artifacts in tanks and will complete the dockside documentation in the coming week.  This was a major feat to complete these two units in one day and it wouldn’t have happened without such a great crew!

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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. 

Week four was a very productive week with beautiful weather on our side and by Friday, (09/28) 14 units were complete.  Out of the past four weeks we have actually had 12 working days on site with 145 dives that has covered 350 sq. ft.  The crew is working at a good pace, when we can get out there.  The first three days of week five have been spent on shore due to inclement weather.  There is certainly no shortage of things to do when we are not on site, but most of us would rather be diving!  Ballast stones recovered this year were processed; approximately 775 stones totaling 1,405 lbs (637.3 Kg) have been picked up so far.

The Gird Units Worked This Fall

The great crew we do have working out here is really making the difference because they all put in 110% when it’s needed.  Some are veterans and some are relatively new to the team. Our Captain is Gerry Compeau from UNCW.  The core divers from the UAB offices are Wendy Welsh, Julep Gillman-Bryan, Nathan Henry and Chris Southerly. Our new boss, Billy Ray Morris, has only just joined our team and we hope to get him out on the site soon.  David Moore from the N.C. Maritime Museum at Beaufort is always part of the crew as is underwater videographer Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions LLC. You can learn more about this motley crew on our website.

We’d like to give a special shout out to this year’s archaeological technicians we have. All seasoned divers on the QAR site.

Lisa Briggs received her M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in 2007 and came to the project as a volunteer only a few months later. She returned as a contract employee in 2008 and 2010, and we’re happy to have her back this year. Lisa has surveyed and excavated wrecks in the Caribbean, Greece, Cyprus, the Pacific and the Atlantic, ranging from a Middle Minoan wreck (c.a. 2000 BCE) in Crete to a mid-18th century sloop in the British Virgin Islands. A professional scuba instructor and technical diver, Lisa has explored the reefs and searched for wrecks all over the world but claims QAR is her favorite underwater excavation.

Joshua Marano is a graduate student with East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies as well as a member of the United States Coast Guard Reserve.  Josh is a life-long North Carolina resident and previously volunteered with the QAR project in 2005, 2007 and 2011.  While working on his M.A. thesis on the role of risk in the United States Life-Saving Service along the North Carolina coast, Josh was awarded the highly sought after National Park Service internship with Biscayne National Park. Once QAR fieldwork is over for the season Josh will be spending the next year gaining more invaluable experience in Florida.

Laurel Seaborn is also a graduate student with East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies as well. She worked on the project last year as an intern, getting the opportunity to dive and assist in the lab.  Seaborn has worked  as a captain on sailing ships of all sizes and as a sailing instructor on several seas around the world. Her time aboard tall ships inspired an interest in maritime history and motivated her to return to university to study for a second career in the field of underwater archaeology. Seaborn feels the study of this eighteenth-century pirate shipwreck has been a highlight!

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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.

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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. 

In April, the QAR project was awarded a mini-grant from Sea Grant to develop an on-site  corrosion model using corrosion potential monitoring of the large iron artifacts, i.e. cannon and anchors.  We refer to this process as ‘in situ monitoring.’ The goal is to get all the cannon and anchors on site tested and as many that are attainable, hooked up to sacrificial anodes, referred to as cathodic protection.  There are four cannon (C12, C14, C17 & C20) staged at the south and we were able to obtain readings and hook up all guns with anodes with the exception C17 which will be left with no cathodic protection as a control.  Katrina Twing, an ECU Ph.D. student in biology, completed a water quality analysis and sediment sampling around the cannon–this will feed into this corrosion model.  We have more in situ monitoring to do at the main ballast pile but we are awaiting some supplies so we will continue this study later in the fieldwork and will keep you posted.

All the in situ monitoring at the south was completed by Wednesday so we changed gears and prepared the boat for artifact recovery.  The crew spent most of the day removing the 3 feet of overburden sediment with 6 inch dredges that discharge off site.  Once we made it down to the cultural layer we started using the 3 inch dredges that flow to the top of the deck and all sediment passes through the sluice boxes for small finds recovery.

We only had one sluice box working so we did what we could to start the process of recovery.  We were able to remove the first layer of ballast stones and a few concretions.   Much more work will be needed on this unit and once we get back out there we will get right on it.  The few artifacts recovered were taken back to the Cultural Resources QAR Conservation Lab at ECU in Greenville.

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