Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week 9: July 12- July 16th: By Allen Wilson and Heather Puhl

This week the maritime field school focused mainly on survey. By now, almost every student has toured and worked on every wreck available. Instead of rotating through the different sites, our teams have been consistently returning to the same wrecks each day. This allows the students to become more familiar and comfortable with the specific wreck they are working on, making work go faster as we gain experience. The archaeological skills we are practicing include taking measurements of important parts of the wreck from an established baseline and learning to translate those measurements into scale drawings of the sites.

Monday: One group went out to what we refer to as the Swing Bridge site because of its proximity to the railroad swing bridge near downtown Milton. The students did some basic orientation and then set out a baseline. They completed a rough sketch of the first two meters of the ship and measured the breadth of the wreck. A second group went to the Centerboard schooner, where they also set up a baseline, and mapped some of the bow, stern, and centerboard itself. The third group went out to the B-Street schooner to test the sub-bottom sonar. We made thirteen full passes at various angles to the wreck, gathering data. The data gathered presented an anomaly at the wreck's location.

Tuesday: With no more sign of oil in the bay, several of us volunteered to return to the B-Street schooner to assist with mapping the areas previously exposed by dredging. We were greeted with warm water, good visibility, plenty of marine life, and most of the starboard side of the bow still exposed. We mapped and measured the exposed timbers. We later used our rough underwater sketches and measurements to draw respectable plan view drawings of the bow. The remaining students and supervisors went to the swing bridge site and centerboard schooner site in the Blackwater River. Baselines were laid on both sites. Teams then used the baselines and an additional tape to measure the locations of various sections of the sites using the baseline and offset of the item being recorded. They also used their measurements and sketches to begin drawing various sections of the wrecks.

Wednesday: Crews returned to both the Centerboard and Swing Bridge sites. On the Swing Bridge, teams mapped the capstan area, although during lunch the capstan fell over, necessitating further drawing and mapping. Different teams worked at mapping different areas of the ship, such as the bow stem, rudder and sternpost on the Centerboard site. A piece of a ceramic plate was found and plotted in also. A third group took the side scan sonar and navigated further up the Blackwater river to search for potential wreck targets to dive on. Unfortunately, there was a malfunction in the computer that kept us from reviewing the data that day, precluding any diving.

Thursday: Today was a busy day for the UWF maritime archaeology crew. Several supervisors went to the barge with the Marine Services Center crew to perform maintenance and some repairs. Two other supervisors accompanied Dr. Bratten while performing remote sensing and introducing a news crew from the Pensacola News Journal to the world of maritime archaeology. The remaining students and supervisors returned to the swing bridge site and centerboard schooner site to continue mapping and measuring the remains of the vessels. With more practice, the teams are becoming more efficient at both mapping and measuring the hulls. The crew on the centerboard even recovered some artifacts that can hopefully be used to determine the age and perhaps the function of the vessel.

Friday: A few students went back out to the Seminole wreck while the rest remained at MSC to learn how to create a full site map to scale from the measurements that we had been taking all week. Several features of both the Swing bridge and Centerboard sites were plotted onto large sheets of graph paper. Next week we will continue to collect data to fill out these site plans.

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