Notes from the Field: Weeks 3 and 4

By Kimberly Kenyon, QAR Conservator 

Some of the highlights from the second part of August include the discovery of a previously unknown cannon under a large concretion and the raising and transport of several large concretions. Here’s an overview:

Week 3: August 19-23

Divers surfaced on Monday with the exciting news of a previously unknown cannon lying within the immense concretion that makes up the pile. This new cannon, which is estimated to be a two-pounder based on its size, brings the cannon grand total to 28! This cannon is also the eighth located in this particular pile. Our numbers seem to be edging closer and closer to the 40 cannon purportedly on the QAR at the time of grounding. Will we find all 40? We certainly hope so!

Tuesday, we were able to raise two large concretions using the davit (think of a small crane, like one used to raise and lower lifeboats off the sides of ships). One contained two lead sounding weights and a deadeye strop;  the other  had two massive deadeye strops. It’s always exciting to find pieces of the ship’s rigging!

Wednesday, we moved the dredges to units 244, 245, 247 and 248, where cannon C-26 and C-27 were found. After removing the sandbags and overburden, the smaller dredges were employed so that sediment could then be collected in the sluices on deck.  Unfortunately, the winds turned again, so we spent Thursday and Friday on shore. At least it allowed time for Kim, Jeremy, and Greg to count and weigh all the ballast stones raised so far and put them in storage. It cleared up some much-needed space on the dock at Fort Macon.

The visibility has been improving, and with all this close-up time with the pile, we have been spotting a certain curious octopus lurking. Julep has even gotten some video of him. Unfortunately, he is going to have to be evicted from his home on the pile so we can get to work!

Week 4: August 26-30

Various small finds are finally coming to light during the fourth week of work on site. Greg identified a brick fragment just underneath cannon C-7 in unit 246, and he also very carefully lifted and recovered a fragment o12f pine sacrificial hull planking in unit 270!  We hope this is a good indicator of what may still be buried in nearby units.

We have been lucky this week in observing a number of local wildlife species. Kim spotted a sting ray just west of anchor A2, Julep managed to get some more video footage of the octopus still lurking around the pile, Danny was very excited by a dolphin escort one morning while we were headed out, and flounder are beginning to appear around the site.

Finally, a large batch of artifacts raised over the course of the previous three weeks was delivered to the QAR lab in Greenville on Friday.  Since so many of the concretions were oversized and too heavy for us to physically load them onto our trailer, we made use once again of the U.S. Coast Guard’s team of crane operators to assist us. Two cask hoop concretions, the lead sounding weight concretion, a deadeye strop concretion and a nail concretion were all loaded quickly and efficiently, and all the boxes of smaller finds were loaded up and transported to the lab.

We lost Greg and Jeremy with the end of the week – they were a tremendous help on site and will be sorely missed!

Stay tuned! We’ll be bringing you updates from September’s field work soon.

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