Well, it’s been a few days…. so I’ll try to catch up with what has happened.
10 December, Thur.
Today we were working on the Mahiaca again… trying to finish off the measured drawings and photomosaic. The only problem is the more time we spend looking at the site, the more things we are finding!
After lunch a manta board search was organized for the northeastern corner of the reef. There were a couple of magnetic anomalies found on Wed. during the magnetometer survey.
11 December, Fri.
John and the crew from Nimrod had an early morning dive today. Working with his metal detector, John found a new magnetic anomaly higher up at the back of the Cato gully. Kieran rearranged the morning tasks and send a dive team out to follow up on the find as well as complete the metal detector survey of the gully.
The Mahaica crew went off for the last time, armed with tape measures and cameras. They finished the site by lunchtime.
At lunch we received word from Canberra that we had permission to raise the bronze gudgeon from the Cato. Also, the decision was made to move the boats to Bird Island and spend the last two days working on the sites there.
After lunch a boat went out to recover the gudgeon. It was a bit of a tussle, as there was a very insistent sea snake that didn’t want us to remove their favourite artefact! With the gudgeon safely onboard Nimrod we hauled the anchor up and headed for Bird Island. It was a quick run… only about an hour, so we were well and truly at a safe anchorage by dinner time.
12 December, Sat.
It was a beautiful morning with the sun rising over the Bird Island. We are anchored out of earshot of the island, but we can see thousands of birds both on the island and in the air. Also, there are some of the LARGEST sea snakes we have seen so far on the project swimming around the Nimrod!
Kieran assigned tasks and the crews headed off to their assigned duties… Team 1 went around to the outside of the reef to have a search for the anchor of the Harp, which wrecked on Bird Island in 1861. Team 2 went to look for the Annie, wrecked in 1887 inside the lagoon while loading guano. Kieran took a team onto Bird Island to map the perimeter with a GPS and have a look for any evidence of the guano mining activities.
Everyone came back for lunch and went out again with the same tasks in the afternoon. After the teams had finished for the afternoon, everyone went across to the island to watch the sunset. Then it was back to Nimrod and dinner.
13 December, Sun.
This morning we have our last dives at Bird Island. One team is going back to the outside reef still trying to locate the anchor from the Harp. The other team is searching for the outer anchorage. Both teams were back by 10:30 without much luck.
Now the crew from Nimrod and SilentWorldII get to go for their last dive and a few people who didn’t get to the island yesterday will go for a look around before lunch.
Well, this is it! Lunchtime now and we have we have just pulled up the ‘Red Rocket’ zodiac. People are breaking down and washing their dive gear so it will dry before we need to pack it up.
We up anchor about 4:30 this afternoon for the 30 hour trip back to Gladstone. We should arrive about 4:00 am on Tuesday 15 Dec. It will be a busy morning as we need to off load the equipment from Nimrod and get it to the transport company for shipping down to Sydney. The ANMM team is due to fly out at 11:00 to Brisbane and then on to Sydney. We should be in about 4:00pm Tues. afternoon. Then it’s back to the office on Wed. and probably wading through a stack of email which would have piled up over the last two weeks.
Contributed by Paul Hundley, Curator – Australian National Maritime Museum