Sunday, May 23, 2010

Maritime Field School Week 1

Week 1 (May 17, 2010 to May 21, 2010)
By Thomas Kirkland

The first week of fieldwork started on Monday with a combined orientation for the Arcadia, Molino, and Nautical students, supervisors, and field directors. 

We began to work on the barge on Tuesday.  My group took a tour of the EP1 (Emanuel Point 1) ballast pile, while other groups took a tor of the EPII (Emanuel Point II) site.  

On Wednesday, dredging operations began to remove the “fluff” or overburden from the stern unit. This was my first time using the dredge equipment, which includes a dredge head and two hoses.  I found it to be an interesting process.  In the unit we felt the gudgeon, which is a construction component associated with the stern portion of vessels.  I just wish I could have seen it. While the visibility was good above the bottom for Pensacola Bay, once we hit the bottom it clouded up quickly. 

On Thursday, we split into groups and one group went to the B-Street Schooner site and removed old units and baseline, while the other group stayed on the barge above EPII and did the same for the first part of the morning. Aleks and I worked in the amidships unit on the third rotation with the dredge and began to feel lead sheathing and wood.  Lead sheathing was used on the outside of sailing vessels to prevent damage from teredo or ship worms on voyages. 

On Friday, we practiced rescue scenarios lead by one of the graduate supervisors, Whitney Anderson.  She first instructed us where the life vests and fire extinguishers were located on all of our vessels.  Then, she taught us the proper procedure for 'Mayday' calls, in case of an emergency.  Finally, we went through three different rescue scenarios: an unconscious, breathing diver; a breathing, conscious individual: a snorkeler, who had gone into anaphylactic shock after being stung by a jellyfish; and finally an unconscious, non-breathing diver. 

This is a whole new environment underwater for most of us, but I think we are all adapting quickly and enjoying ourselves. As one of my class mates said “This is what we do all these classes for, sometimes we forget that we are studying something so interesting all the times we sit in class.”

Scientific Diver Training Week

Scientific Diver Training Program (May 10, 2010 to May 14, 2010)
By Bob Rutledge

The class of approximately twenty students, twelve graduate student
managers, and the instructors met for an initial orientation and introduction session at Bldg. 13, Room 230, at UWF. Dr. John Bratten, as the program director gave a lecture on the history and construction techniques employed in the Spanish Colonial period as a means of illustrating the objects we may encounter in our excavations in Pensacola Bay.

On Wednesday, the entire class boarded seven vans to transport all of our diving gear to Vortex Springs where diving and swimming skills were practiced under the direction of master divers from MBT. Confined water swimming tests were conducted on the surface, as well as underwater to insure that all of the program participants were capable of performing the required skills. Distance swimming, and standard underwater skills were completed by all of the staff and students.

On Thursday, the class was transported to Pensacola Beach where all of the same skills were tested in open water. This exercise was complicated by fairly steady cross currents at the surface which made it difficult to maintain divers on their stations. However, all members of the class completed the assigned drills. Returning to MSC (our Marine Services Center), the class cleaned and serviced all of the gear and completed a debriefing session.

On Friday, we had our first 'rain day' of the semester, which gave us time to take care of personal business before the official field school season started.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We have a great group of students this summer. You can follow their weekly trials and tribulations right here. We have 21 students in all: 10 students in the first session and 11 students in the second session. Since our program and our field school is growing (which we think is amazing!) we have made it mandatory for all underwater students to take the combined maritime/terrestrial field school. This gives them a chance to experience two different genres of archaeology. Our underwater students will also be working at our UWF terrestrial sites, which include Arcadia Mill, a 19th-century mill site and our Molino site, "Colonial Frontiers," in search of an 18th-century Spanish mission, San Joseph de Escambe.

Our maritime students will be primarily working on two sites this summer-Emanuel Point II, the second vessel of Luna's 1559 fleet and the B-St Schooner. In addition to these two sites, we will be teaching students how to use our survey equipment-our side scan sonar and magnetometer-to find potential new shipwrecks in the bay. The students will also get a chance to find a third vessel in Luna's fleet because we will be taking them on target dives of previously discovered sonar or magnetometer hits. The fourth element of our underwater field school provides the students a chance to look at the artifacts they have uncovered throughout the summer in the conservation lab.