During the fall and winter of 2014 and spring of 2015 we will resume our search for any remains of Lord Dunmore’s “Floating City” from 1776. See attached summary.
Chesapeake and Delaware reconnaisance, autumn 2012
During September and October 2012, IMH plans to continue an underwater reconnaissance in the Delaware River for several American warships and one British warship that were sunk in 1777. Our work will support the efforts of Andrew Doria – The First Salute, Inc., to build a replica of the brigantine Andrew Doria, one of the vessels lost. She was one of the first four vessels purchased by Congress for the Continental Navy in 1775. The project will be coordinated with the State of New Jersey and the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.
On our way to the Delaware and back we will also reconnoiter 88 possible shipwrecks in the Chesapeake Bay for the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). Five of the sites are in the Potomac, and 83 are in the Bay. We have scanned many of them in prior transits, but have only dived a few. Many of them may never have been dived. The sites lie along 147 miles of transit from Tall Timbers MD to the C&D Canal. Site data will be reported to MHT and nobody else.
Scanning will employ IMH’s hard-mounted sidescan sonar. When conditions and manpower allow, we will also use a Marine Sonic Technologies “Splash Proof PC” sonar on loan from the National Park Service. The Marine Magnetics “Explorer” magnetometer that was used in the first part of the project in April and May 2012 is not currently operational, but we will use it if it is repaired in time. Participants can gain as much “scope time” as they want.
Targets selected by MHT will be dived by IMH volunteers, manually mapped, and scanned with metal detectors. To maximize volunteer participation, those dives would be conducted on weekends and clustered geographically to meet divers. The transit schedule would be adjusted to suit. The project depends on IMH receiving funds to work in the Delaware River. The Chesapeake work could then be performed along the way at minimal cost to participants.
Participation requires the usual diving waivers plus your agreement not to disturb sites, not to move or remove anything, and not to tell anyone outside the project where we went or what we found. “No take, no talk.“
The tentative schedule is to depart Tall Timbers on 17 September, scan the Chesapeake sites 17-21 September, work the Revolutionary War sites 22-30 September, scan some Delaware Bay sites 1-6 October, show the IMH flag at Coast Day at Lewes on 7 October, work with the University of. Delaware for a few days to map a large shipwreck at Cape Henlopen, and dive the Chesapeake sites from (say) 10 October until Hallowe’en.
St. Mary’s River project update
Scott Tucker is investigating this site as part of his doctoral work at the University of Southampton, England. Scott has summarized the project and posted photographs on his blog at www.smrarchaeology.wordpress.com.
The site is a possible 17th century wreck that was explored before by the Maryland Historical Trust but was not surveyed in detail. This year’s work included a Phase I reconnaissance to confirm the location and map visible features. IMH members Dawn Cheshaek, Bob Speir, and Bob Jimenez dived. Life member Jim Sanborn loaned us a 10-foot Zodiac that served as the primary workboat. We also used an 11-foot aluminum skiff to carry dive and survey gear. Water temperature was in the low 70s, the jellyfish were not too bad, and visibility was excellent for the river.
The site is heavily encrusted with dead oyster. We laid a baseline, staked out what appeared to be the perimeter of the site, mapped features with a Total Station loaned by Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC), and recovered three pieces of small red brick that appear to be Dutch, and three pieces of rock that might be ballast. They seem to be consistent with the estimated age of the site. They will be conserved by HSMC. On the last day of the project we removed all marker buoys and mushroom anchors but left the baseline staked in situ for next year’s field season. If funding and permits are in hand, next year’s work may include test excavations to determine if any surviving structure lies under the oysters.
Autumn 2011 plans
We are contemplating a massive reconnaissance project to run from18 August to 10 November 2011, to investigate a long list of targets (372 at current count) in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays and off Cape Henlopen. A draft project plan is attached as a .pdf file.
The idea is to start when Roper returns from her summer soujourn at St. Augustine, and to finish in time to pull the U-1105 buoy on 12-13 November for the winter. “We are ready now … as soon as we refuel.”
Anyone interested in participating as a diver, tender, boat-driver or researcher would be very welcome, subject to our rule against disturbing sites or disclosing them to others who might: “no take, no talk.” Some of the diving will be easy, and some challenging. All of it will be low-viz or no-viz. Most targets are in 40 feet or less, but some are as deep as 90 feet.
If you would like to sign up or get more information please use the “contact” link or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new-to-us skiff is operational and legal. She will work in shallow waters and decent weather, and can handle four divers with gear — maybe six at most. 26 feet, 20+ knots, 1970 Pacemaker “Alglas” hull, 1996 Chevy 350 engine (straight inboard), center console, extra fuel tanks, all USCG-required gear, VHF, WAAS DGPS, &c.
She needs a name. Suggestions?