My Writings. My Thoughts.
Offshore Industry and Archaeology: A creative relationship
Esbjerg, 14th - 15th March 2013
Links to conference material:
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21/2 long weeks of diving are over. We made the best of the weather and finished recording what we had planned yesterday. When the last sandbags were lowered over the site, the wind started to blow up and shortly after diving had become impossible.
The afternoon and the morning were used for cleaning, repairing and data processing, and now we are ready to leave. We had a great time in Bagenkop with a lot of local support and interest, so we’re hoping to present some of our results in the village in October.
First of all we’re very grateful to Øhavsmuseet for making this project possible at all and to Christian Thomsen for accompanying and supporting us throughout the fieldschool. We’d also like to thank the “Action Efterskole” for providing us with accommodation and facilities. Many many thanks go to Søren and the local divers for helping out, fixing pumps and providing us with a lot of support!
And last but not least, many thanks to all fieldschool participants for their hard work and efficiency!!! Excellent job!
If there is one thing a fieldschool does, it is increase the endurance, stamina, strength and most of all patience of the participants. The hauling of cylinders and heavy equipment transformed the divers into beings of utmost perfection. One might say it makes the inner primate in some of us surface.
For another day the brave divers faced a merciless ocean, but once again, without any hesitation or cowardice, they all jumped into the deeps of the Baltic. There they fought off waves of charging crabs in order to record every single detail of what by now has become the single thought on our minds: the Ågabet wreck.
The divers are working against the clock as a storm is brewing on the horizon. As for now however the prospects are good, progress is being made and it looks like we will manage to record the wreck both in top view as in cross-sections up to the ten meter line before the storm is unleashed upon us.
In tight formation the divers engage in close-quarter recording, steadily advancing into the crabs’ ranks. Plank by plank, timber by timber, advancing towards the stern. The wreck will soon be claimed for the peoples candle revolution!
The Sun was shining while Bagenkop was waking up this morning, and the daily routine was exactly the same as any typical summer day. Birds singing, bees buzzing, monkeys jumping from one tree to another… With such a morning start nothing could go wrong, and nothing went wrong, something not very usual in our days here in Bagenkop. The dredging went on without a single pump breaking, the drawing of the wreck continued nicely and the timber recording was executed perfectly, by a Maltese determined to prove wrong all the ridiculous stereotypes that accompany Mediterranean people.
In the afternoon shift everything was running smoothly as well, until the dark clouds started surrounding us. For the safety of everyone we judged it was better to go back to the harbour. The big storm we expected turned out to be a light 10 minutes rain, but by then it was quite late to go back to the site. The bottom line however, is that even though we lost a dive, we are still going to manage and finish everything on time!
After having the site covered over by the storm on Saturday, drawing the timbers began at full speed. Most of the wreck on the port side, towards the bow has been drawn out and recorded. Being in the water for over two hours gets you a bit cranky, cold and hungry. In addition, drawing in the waves does not help, especially when the meter ruler sways from side to side whilst you are trying to read off the baseline. However, it is a satisfying feeling to know that the different areas drawn match when traced over and laid next to each other on the large permatrace.
Although 4 sessions of dives were planned the last session only lasted half an hour due to the down pours and strong winds that suddenly came blowing in from the south. Hopefully the weather will be clear tomorrow so that more of the wreck can be recorded.
What can one do but accomplish as much as one can in terms of dredging sediments to allow the following divers to draw the respectable remains of this old gal lying on the bottom of the Baltic? Each exposed timber is subsequently recorded on a timber sheet and then drawn in plan view. All of us thus work in unison to lay the foundations for a proper understanding of this exciting wreck.
We work against mischievous winds who let loose drawing- and recording-unfriendly waves. Moreover, not even the total station can be operated to allow an alternate recording method given that the waves in the afternoon proved to be quite the bastards. So, we do what we can as we face uncertain, no, make it unreliable weather forecasts.
Due to southwesterly winds, we were not able to go out diving on the 31st of July. The waves were simply to big to get divers safely in and out of the water, or to get any work done on the bottom. Therefore we had a little practice in offset drawing and total station on land, on the lawn of Sydlangelands Maritime Efterskole, which is our home for the time that we are staying in Bagenkop. As a subject for our drawing endeavours, we used a piece of wreckage from a fairly recent wooden ship, which we had found washed up on the beach.
The following day, the winds had gone down and we went out confident that we would find our wreck as we had left it, as this had been the case after the previous storm. Unfortunately, nothing was farther from the truth. The wreck had been almost completely covered with sand again. Of the rudder, only 5 centimetres of the top still stuck out of the sediment. So we were back where we started and spend a large part of the day uncovering our ship again. Nonetheless, we had a good and quiet (as far as the weather goes, that is) dive day and were eventually able to continue recording the timbers and start drawing the site plan.
As site supervisor I woke up early to be ahead of the game, it was all sunshine and clear skies. The sky was such a liar. The team made good time to the boat, loaded with new equipment for the starting of the offset drawing. The first team of divers jumped in full of energy and enthusiasm to set up for the day. Baseline was set, two dredgers were placed and timber recordings were began. On the surface the sky was clear but there was a storm visible to the south, moving to the west, a good sign. The second team went down with just as much enthusiasm as the first. Offset drawing was started at the bow, because when possible it is good to start at the beginning and go on to the end (not to the rudder, but to the end of our stay). timber recording has come to the frames, which look large and solid, but as everything on this ship its not that simple. The frames are several components, nearly seamlessly fused together. The dredgers were busy clearing in the frame pockets, down to an in situ level, exciting to see what these areas turn up. The storm then turned towards us and those in the water quickly noticed as they began to sway back and forth as far as meter, hard to write on a paper when your hand sways whole meters. The rest of the day of diving was cancelled, and again we get to update the paperwork, but this also leads to good conversations on construction of the ship.
“A very excting wreck, completely different from what we expected!” - Jens Auer