Kenn Reefs expedition, day four (continued) and day five

Silentworld Foundation CEO and project team leader John Mullen uses a metal detector to search for artefacts in shallows off Observatory Cay, while Jacqui Mullen (background) documents a find. Image: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation.

Silentworld Foundation CEO and project team leader John Mullen uses a metal detector to search for artefacts in shallows off Observatory Cay, while Jacqui Mullen (background) documents a find. Image: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation.

While the magnetometer crew conducted its initial search west of Observatory Cay, a second team embarked upon a metal detector survey of the cay itself and searched for evidence of survivor camps associated with the wrecked vessels Bona Vista and Jenny Lind.

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Kenn Reefs expedition, days one through four

Observatory Cay and part of the ‘foot and ankle’ are visible from the bow of Silentworld shortly after its arrival at Kenn Reefs. Image: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation.

Observatory Cay and part of the ‘foot and ankle’ are visible from the bow of Silentworld shortly after its arrival at Kenn Reefs. Image: Julia Sumerling/Silentworld Foundation.

The Australian National Maritime Museum and Silentworld Foundation recently led an expedition to the Australian Coral Sea Territory to conduct an archaeological survey of historic shipwrecks lost at Kenn Reefs during the nineteenth century. The Kenn Reefs expedition is a continuation of an ongoing collaborative project between the museum and Silentworld Foundation that commenced in 2009 and led to the discovery that same year of the wreck of the colonial government schooner Mermaid (lost in 1829 on what is now known as Flora Reef). No less than eight vessels are known to have wrecked at Kenn Reefs between 1828 and 1884, and most grounded in relatively close proximity to one another on the largest of the southernmost reefs in the chain, as it was located within an oft-travelled shipping route, but poorly charted until the mid-nineteenth century.

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Ferguson Reef archaeology expedition – 26 and 27 March

Tuesday 26 March

This morning the weather conditions appeared to be improving on yesterday’s so we sent off four teams to work on the Ferguson site.

Team One consisting of Frits and John dove on a series of magnetic anomalies off the south western side of Ferguson Reef, Gil and Greg in Team Two measured up an anchor at the northern part of the site, Peter and Jacqui in Team Three measured a ‘flat’ anchor and Grant and Andrew in Team Four measured an anchor in the surf zone. Whilst all this was going on Xanthe took photographs of the work in progress and I monitored the work from the surface whilst taking part in an open classroom discussion via telephone through the DART virtual excursion program of the NSW Department of Education.

As the teams returned from the wrecksite the whole area was struck by a series of rain squalls drenching everyone – well at least it saved us the job of washing the dive gear.

After lunch, sea conditions appeared to have quietened down once again and in almost perfect conditions we set off to dive on the site. Gil, Greg and I went to measure the length of a stud link anchor chain that was attached to a ‘picked in’ anchor. Peter and Jacqui jumped in to measure up the various iron knees, assisted by Andrew, John and Frits armed with metal detectors they commenced a non-disturbance metal detector survey of the site to find out ‘what lies beneath’. Continue reading

Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 17

Fri, 20 Jan 2012
Hope Islet

Wayne with his catch, a huge fishKanimbla is moving to Hope Islet today to spend our last day of the survey.  We pulled up anchor at 8 am, it only takes half an hour to get there.  Wayne our technician from James Cook University is a mad keen fisherman.  He threw a hook in as we left and within 10 minutes he had a fish. Tonight’s dinner looks like this!  Wahoo!

We arrived at Hope Cay at 9.30 am and by 10 am the mag team was away in their boat. We also had a team on the cay to survey and metal detect there.  There was nothing of historical significance, but much more evidence of modern visitation than at West Islet.  There were iron star pickets driven into the cay and the shallows in the reef.  There also appears to be the remains of an engine block.  Possibly these were anchorage points left by fishermen who visit the area.

Metal detecting on shoreThe mag teams came back with a few anomalies buoyed for investigation.  Two teams of divers went out for what is likely to be our last dives.  They will be back by lunchtime and we will make a decision to either stay anchored here for the afternoon or start our trip back to Gladstone.  We hear that there are gale warnings out for the Queensland coast, so that may slow us down the closer we get.

Anyway, once we start to move we won’t be able to connect to our satellite to send back any further information.  So this is it, our last  update from the field.  We will give you a final wrap-up once we are back in the office.  Hope you have enjoyed our reports on the progress we made.  It has been a tremendously busy and productive time.

Exploring the sand cay 

Cheers
Paul and the rest of the team

P.S As Xanthe stayed on Silentworld she wasn’t here to provide our usual quality images.  And just so you don’t think Xanthe is a figment of our imagination… Here is one of the rare photographs of our photographer!

Xanthe the photographer