Another beautiful day on site

Wednesday 18 April

After a delayed start due to some ordinary weather, today was another cracker day, with smooth seas but average water visibility due to an ebb tide. Mike and Brad installed more star pickets along the starboard hull, which were then labeled with plastic tags.  Although a strong current made this work challenging, over sixty measurements were taken between all 11 star pickets, along with depth readings for the top of each pole.  This data will be used to form a control point network around the site from which all other survey measurements will be taken to map out the rest of the wreck. 

Brad Duncan
Jack-up barge JUPB1 in the early morning light (photo by Andy Viduka)

We were not alone onsite.  The wreck is home to over a hundred baby triggerfish, several puffer fish and a small squid, who kept me company whilst Mike swam around with the tapes.  During this time, I had time to examine more closely some of the many smaller artefacts on site, including lead sheathing, copper bolts, and stubbies (beer bottles) discarded by local fishermen.  The possible remains of one of the shipwreck’s unlucky victims was evident in what may be 162 year old sheep fat! We were joined later on in the dive by Matt and Deb, who exercised their muscles carrying sandbags to build a sandbag buttress wall to reinforce the port side of the hull.  The sandbags will help to protect the wreck from erosion, and provide support for the reburial of the site after the excavation has finished. 

The topside crew of Amer, Georgia, Mark and Peter V under the control of James Parkinson (the diving supervisor) did a great job of managing the surface lines, which provide the divers with topside communication via a radio link cable. Managing these cable presents challenges to avoid making spaghetti!  We’re hoping for good weather tomorrow so we can get an earlier start, and continue establishing the survey grid. 

by Dr, Brad Duncan
Maritime Archaeologist
NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage