Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 12

Sun, 15 Jan 2012
Saumarez Reef

View of reef underwater

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

The wind has picked up again this morning.  It’s blowing about 25 knots out of the east and swell is up on the outside of the reef.

It is still too high to get out on the reef face and the forecast is sustained winds for the next 24 to 36 hours.

We have decided that we have done all we can on the Woodlark.  A snorkel team is going to collect the measuring tapes that were left on the site around the basin yesterday.  They will also see if they can swim between the surf and the rock outcrop to identify the windlass, an apparatus used to raise an anchor.  In 1991, Ron Coleman recorded that this windlass was a hybrid mechanism that seemed to be able to raise both hemp cable and anchor chain.  The Woodlark was sailing at a time when ships were transitioning from thick hemp rope on the anchor to the more modern (and stronger) anchor chain. Certainly from what we have seen on site, the Woodlark did have anchor chain.  Whether they also used hemp cable it is impossible to say, as no evidence of this would survive.

Scuba diver at reef and detail of artefact

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

It was impossible to swim against today’s strong current (about 4 knots) running from the east to the west, so we drifted over the reef looking for any other features.  We ended up back in the basin and climbed into the boat to wait for the scuba divers to finish clearing off the tapes.

There wasn’t a lot that we could do after lunch.  We have caught up with our paperwork and logbooks.  We checked our email and sent out a few messages.  Now we are waiting for the re-supply boat to arrive. It eventually came into the reef about 5 pm.  We transferred 12 days of accumulated rubbish out to Knight Passage. They transferred fresh milk and food to us, along with our replacement equipment and four new team members.  Both boats got together for a joint dinner tonight, the first time in two days.

We will have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

Paul Hundley  (Sr. Curator and archaeologist)

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