Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 13

Mon, 16 Jan 2012
Saumarez Reef

The wind has shifted to the north overnight and is blowing about 25 knots.  Our current anchorage is not a good one in these conditions! We start moving to the north looking for a calm spot to wait this out.

A couple hours later we are anchored further north in a calmer location, and take a moment to check out the equipment that arrived with the re-supply vessel.  We now have working magnetometers again which we’ll need for either the Noumea or any other wrecks we will search for now.

Saumarez Reef

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

After lunch we raised anchor again and started moving north towards Northeast Cay where the survivors of the Noumea took refuge.  The cay was surrounded by heavy breaking surf on all sides.  There also appears to be a strong current running from north to south on both the inside and outside of the cay and reef, which means we can’t dive today. It would also be difficult to get a small boat through the breaking waves to land a group on the cay to see if there was any evidence of the survivor’s camp.

It is clear that the successive construction of a number of beacons and lights on the cay have been subject to some degree of disturbance.  Whether this would have had a negative impact on any archaeological deposits is a question that a survey of the island may answer.  It is doubtful whether we will be able to accomplish a survey on this trip. 

We went back south to anchor for the night.  The Kanimbla is still rocking a far bit even in a relatively protected part of the reef.  The swell will prevent the people onboard Silentworld from joining us for dinner tonight.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings in terms of changing weather and plans for the last days of the project for this year.  We will have to leave for Gladstone by Friday night to get back by Sunday, especially if the wind and waves are up.  We have heard from Knight Passage, our re-supply vessel, that they are still making their way to Gladstone and encountering 40 knot winds and huge seas.  Not a pleasant crossing at all!

Paul Hundley  (Sr. Curator and archaeologist)

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