RV Roper, the steel workhorse of the Institute of Marine History (IMH), spent three weeks on the hard for annual maintenance. Major work included removing, tweaking, installing and re-aligning the engine, rebuilding the dry exhaust stack, professionally sandblasting the underwater hull, applying four coats of epoxy and two of non-ablative bottom paint, painting her topsides, fixing the on-board computer system, and installing a new Humminbird 1199 sidescan sonar.
Captain Brendan Burke, an underwater archaeologist from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum in Florida, came to Tall Timbers for two weeks of sandblasting, welding, grinding, sanding, painting, wrenching, cursing, boat yoga, and the other joys of yotting. Eighteen other volunteers gallantly joined the effort. They included IMH members Dawn Cheshaek, Isabel Mack, John Dowdle, Sam Glover, Bill Isbell, Dan Lynberg, Kirk Pierce, Jim Sanborn, Ted Sargent, and Dave Howe; friends Kathleen Lowe, Kirk Esco, Mike Gates, Kathleen’s fiancé Brian, Hugh McKeever, and Hunter McNee; and Florida crew Tom Arnold and Brian McNamara.
On Saturday morning, 17 May, Brendan, Tom, and Brian McNamara started Roper south for Florida. She passed through Great Bridge Lock at midnight, averaging 7 knots on her new, hard, clean bottom. She will spend June working a shipwreck from 1782 as part of the Lighthouse’s annual field school in underwater archaeology, and July and August searching for French shipwrecks dating from 1565. She will come home to Tall Timbers in September, spend six weeks mapping a dozen World War One wrecks near Aquia and two Civil War wrecks near Quantico, and retrieve the U-1105 mooring buoy on 1-2 November.