The original concept of an underwater survey of Pensacola Bay was expressed by the late G. Norman Simons, former curator of the Pensacola Historical (Society) Museum. For years, Simons carefully collected and collated records of ship losses, old charts and maps, reports of wreck sites, oral histories, and artifacts recovered by divers, to form a body of data which has served as a departure point for many researchers interested in the bay’s maritime history. Designation of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1971 led to an archaeological survey conducted by Florida State University of the Florida portions of the new park, primarily at the Naval Live Oaks Reservation, Santa Rosa Island, and the area around Ft. Barrancas. With local assistance of Simons and others, eight ship-related sites were recorded in shallow water and on land (Tesar 1973). Meanwhile, a brief offshore reconnaissance by the National Park Service was conducted with a magnetometer near Santa Rosa Island; however, upon underwater investigation divers encountered no cultural materials (Lenihan 1974).
Over a decade later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a remote sensing survey of the Pensacola harbor channel and turning basin in front of the Navy Yard for the Navy Strategic Homeporting Project. The two-week survey in 1986 located 173 magnetic targets, of which 56 were associated with side-scan sonar images (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1986). Twelve were selected for additional investigation prior to dredging the port. The following year, a private firm, Tidewater Atlantic Research, was contracted to investigate the targets, but none were found to be significant. An unrelated shipwreck Convoy, previously thought by a local diver to be the Judah, was recorded (Tidewater Atlantic Research 1987).
In 1988, a local Milton resident, Warren Weeks, guided the state underwater archaeologist, Roger C. Smith, to the site of a well-preserved, two-masted coastal schooner abandoned in a back bayou of the Blackwater River. Almost a hundred feet in length, the submerged early 19th-century vessel was found to be intact from rails to the keel, with her pump and windlass still in place. In May of that year, Smith and Simons organized Pensacola’s first Conference on Maritime History and Marine Archaeology. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, the Pensacola Historical Society, the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board, and the University of West Florida. The conference brought together, for the first time, a network of amateur historians and archaeologists, recreational divers, commercial fishermen, and university and state employees, who began to focus on local maritime history and the potential for marine archaeology in Pensacola Bay. Concurrent with the conference was the opening of an exhibit of shipwreck artifacts from the Convoy at the Historical Museum.
As one of the sponsors of the conference, the University of West Florida acknowledged an interest in the potential significance of the area’s submerged cultural resources, but admittedly lacked the knowledge and expertise to pursue research and training in marine archaeology as it had with terrestrial archaeology. However, within months of the conference UWF archaeologists conducting a survey of Deadman’s Island for the City of Gulf Breeze encountered the remains of a small colonial ship eroding from the beach in shallow water. Dr. Judy Bense contacted Smith in Tallahassee to help conduct a preliminary investigation of the site with students and volunteers (Bense 1988). Smith was invited to join the university’s adjunct faculty, and together with Bense organized a class in marine archaeology, which was taught in the spring of 1989. The class included field investigations of a fishing smack buried under the sand at Perdido Key (Williamson 1991).
A university field school was organized in the summer of 1989 to excavate the Deadman’s Wreck with the co-sponsorship of the City of Gulf Breeze under the direc-tion of Smith, Robert Finegold and Marianne Franklin. Ten undergraduate students from several universities received classroom and field training at the shallow-water site. They discovered that the small British vessel had been in the process of careening, when she was found to be unseaworthy and was apparently abandoned (Smith 1990; Finegold 1990). A permanent exhibit with artifacts and interpretive materials was installed in the South Santa Rosa County Recreation Center at Gulf Breeze. Concurrent with the field school, a team of volunteers under the direction of David Baumer thoroughly documented the Blackwater schooner, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C. the following year (Baumer 1990).
In the fall of 1989, a brief magnetometer survey and underwater investigation took place at the site of a proposed pier at the confluence of the Blackwater River and Pond Creek, near the site of the old Bagdad Saw Mill. Conducted by a private firm, Underwater Archaeological Consortium, in accordance with permit compliance requirements for the proposed construction, the investigation determined that no significant resources would be impacted by the new pier (James 1989). Early in the following year, during dredging operations to deepen the entrance channel to Pensacola Bay for the Strategic Homeporting Project, a bronze artillery piece became lodged in the pump of the dredge Carolina. A concerned crew member released the news to local media, prompting temporary relocation of dredging activities. A visit to the dredge by Corps of Engineers archaeologist, Dorothy Gibbens, and state underwater archaeologist Smith concluded that the piece was an eighteenth-century howitzer, and that additional materials, such as a broken anchor and several broken ship’s timbers, had also been impacted by the dredge. The State Historic Preservation Office requested that the area be resurveyed to locate the source of the materials, which appeared to represent a shipwreck. A brief visual and magnetic search, under Corps supervision at the location provided by the dredging contractor, failed to locate any historic materials (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1990).
Additional dredging of the bay in 1990 during the construction of a new pier to accommodate a larger aircraft carrier at the Navy Yard encountered a massive submerged object. The dredge operator, after pulling up several copper-sheathed timbers, personally dived on the site, and with the assistance of navy divers determined that it was over 120 ft in length and 50 ft in width. Again, the State Historic Preservation Office requested that dredging cease until an archaeological determination of the object’s identity and significance was obtained. Panamerican Consultants, Inc., was contracted to assess the submerged structure, which was partially excavated to reveal a large wooden container filled with stone, clay, and sand. Concurrent archival research in government records revealed details of a large caisson constructed and intentionally sunk by the Navy in the early 1830s. It was agreed that, after sufficient documentation and additional historical research, the structure could be removed, which occurred early in 1991. The project was completed after extensive recording of the caisson remains, collection and conservation of artifacts, and the construction of a scale model of the structure for public exhibit (Mistovich et al.1991).
Pensacola Shipwreck Survey
In 1990, the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research received the first of a series of federal grants through the Florida Coastal Management Program to begin a pilot study of Pensacola Bay shipwrecks and to prepare a regional model for their management and protection. The Pensacola Shipwreck Survey was formed under the direction of Smith, with staff members Marianne Franklin and John Morris working with local volunteers. The project was housed in the city’s waterfront historical district in conjunction with the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board. During the first phase of the survey thirty-three sites of wrecked or abandoned vessels, ranging from colonial to modern in age, were located, recorded, and assessed. A survey report with classifications of sites and recommendations was published by the Bureau (Franklin et al. 1992). Included in the recommendations for future work were additional remote sensing surveys, and a formal survey of the USS Massachusetts, which had been nominated by local diver Larry Broussard to become Florida’s fourth Underwater Archaeological Preserve (Smith 1991).
The second phase of the Pensacola Shipwreck Survey began in 1992 with an expanded staff consisting of James Spirek, Della Scott, Michael Williamson, and Charles Hughson. Systematic mapping of the USS Massachusetts produced site plans with which to compare 1910 refit construction drawings of the ship. These archaeological data, combined with historical and archival materials, helped survey staff to produce a formal proposal for the new preserve, which was delivered to the public during a Second Conference on Maritime History and Archaeology in May 1992. The preserve officially opened the following year.
The primary goal of the second phase was to conduct remote sensing operations in the bay, with the intention of locating and recording additional colonial vessels. During planning of electronic survey operations, emphasis was placed on identifying areas of the bay associated with colonial maritime activities in Pensacola, especially those relating to the First and Second Spanish periods. Discussions as to the possibility of locating remains of the lost ships of the Tristán de Luna expedition prompted staff to design a survey strategy toward that end. Historical, geographical, and local knowledge were gathered to determine which areas of the bay should be prioritized for electronic scrutiny that might turn up sites dating to the targeted time periods. Areas selected were the northwest and southwest shores of Pensacola Bay near its entrance, the northwest and southwest extremities of the Gulf Breeze peninsula, and Emanuel Point near the mouth of Bayou Texar (Spirek et al. 1993).
Remote sensing operations began in early June 1992 and continued to September, followed by ground-truthing of accumulated targets through October. The magnetic survey package consisted of an EG&G Geometrics G-866 Proton Precession Recording Magnetometer with towed array, a SI-Tex LORAN-C position finder, and a Marine Tech fathometer. Side-scan sonar operations were conducted using a Klein Model 590 sonar with dual track recorder, and a Trimble Geographic Positioning System (GPS). The sonar equipment and its technical support were provided under contract by Alan Druin of A&A Research. To transport the electronic sensing equipment, a 21-foot survey boat with a crew of three persons was employed. Another 22-foot boat was used as a diving platform from which to investigate targets.
Casting a wide survey net over selected portions of the bay yielded many targets, both natural and manmade. However, the vast majority of targets that could be verified were revealed to be modern, ranging from metal cables to pizza ovens, from car bodies to construction debris, as well as dumped military and commercial trash. Many of these objects represented artificial reefs, intentionally deposited by fishermen to attract fish. Despite the preponderance of these byproducts of industrial Pensacola, the bay also contains the remains of its maritime past. Both electronic tools—the magnetometer and side-scan sonar—detected early shipwrecks.
Following remote-sensing operations at several survey tracts in Pensacola Bay, operations shifted in August to the shallow waters off Emanuel Point, which is one of the suspected Luna landfall locations in the bay. The search centered on a submerged sandbar extending from the bluff into the bay. The survey required two days to complete, the 27th and 30th of August 1992. Magnetometry covered a survey tract slightly under one 1.6 km2, and survey transects totaled over 15.5 linear km. Sampling interval for the magnetometer was set at two seconds and boat speed varied between 4 and 6 knots. LORAN, along with marker buoys, was used as positioning controls for the survey. Transects ran east to west and were spaced from 9 m to 12 m to ensure maximum coverage of the area under investigation. Moving from deeper water to the shallow sandbar, water depths in the survey area ranged from 1.5 m to 7.3 m. Approximately 55 magnetic anomalies were detected, of which slightly under 20 percent represented probable multiple encounters of the same object. Ground-truthing of the anomalies did not occur until a month later following side-scan sonar operations at the lower end of the bay in September. Unfortunately, bad weather combined with the shallow depths off Emanuel Point, rebuffed sonar attempts to obtain acoustical data on several promising magnetic anomalies. In October, divers visually inspected three primary anomalies in the survey area and discovered a tubular-steel tower for shrimp net rigging at one. Another magnetic target initially proved to be elusive, however later scrutiny determined that metal cable was the anomaly’s source. Investigation of the third anomaly revealed a low mound of ballast stones that appeared promising. Efforts immediately focused on assessing the ballast mound’s archaeological potential and the source of the 400-gamma magnetic beacon that had initially signaled its presence.
Shipwreck Sites Recorded
by the Pensacola Shipwreck Survey
- First Spanish Period 1513-1763
Emanuel Point Wreck (8ES1980)
- British Period 1763-1783
Deadman’s Wreck (8SR782) Town Point Wreck (8SR983)
- Second Spanish Period 1783-1821
Santa Rosa Island Wreck (8ES1905)
- Early American Period 1821-1861
Pickens Wreck (8ES1901)
- Civil War 1861-1865
Judah (8ES1904), Convoy (8ES1371)
- Maritime Industrial Expansion 1865-1906
Early 20th-Century Period 1906-1945
- Blackwater River Sites
Cedar Wreck (8SR1007), Snapper Wreck (8SR1001), Shield’s Point #1 (8SR997), Shield’s Point #2 (8SR998), Shield’s Point #3 (8SR1011), Shield’s Point #4 (8SR1012), Milton RR Swingbridge Hull (8SR1008), City of Tampa (8SR1010), Barge of Sanborn’s (8SR1013), Barge(s) off Dutchman’s Cut (8SR1002), Barge at #38 Marker (8SR1003), Barge south of Dutchman’s Cut (8SR1004), Marquis Basin Barge (8SR1005), Quinn Basin Barge (8SR1006), Baypoint Barge (8SR1009)
- Bayou Chico
Vessel at Runyan’s Shipyard (8ES1896), T137 Barge (removed), Barge off Clopton’s (8ES1905), West Leg Barge (8ES1902)
- Old Navy Cove
Deadman’s Punt (8SR1014), Centerboard Schooner (8SR996), Composite Hull (8SR1000), Cabradroca (8SR995), Marine Railway Debris (8SR999), Old Navy Cove Barge (8SR1249)
- Pensacola Bay and Offshore
Rhoda (8ES1899), Sport (8ES99), Windlass Site (8ES994), Drydock (8ES1903), USS Massachusetts (8ES1898), B Street Schooner (8ES1903), B Street Barge (8ES1904), Hamilton’s Wreck (8ES2245)
Discovery of the Emanuel Point Ship
The ballast mound is situated ca. 0.8 km south of the bluff that extends westward from Emanuel Point. Its longitudinal axis runs southeast to northwest, from the outer edge of the sandbar in 4 m of turbid water shoreward to a depth of 3 m at the center of the mound. Exposed ballast stones consist of small to medium-sized river cobbles and some quarried rock, all overgrown with large oysters. A preliminary visual inspection of the site revealed no obvious cultural material. Similar but smaller deposits of ballast stones had been encountered during the survey at known anchorages in the bay; they represent ballast that was discharged by ships preparing to take on cargo. However, this consolidated pile of stones was found in shallow water, on a sand bar that provides poor holding ground and a unprotected anchorage for ships of any size. It was obvious that the stones had become incorporated into the bottom over a long period, providing a substratum for succeeding generations of shellfish to find a home.
Fig. 4. Emanuel Point Ship location map.
Removal of several stones at the northeastern edge of the ballast pile uncovered an eroded wooden timber that appeared to be a ship’s ceiling plank. To control further testing of the site, a baseline was laid along the longitudinal axis of the mound, which measures 16 m in length and 8 m in breadth. Three test units were opened into the ballast stones to determine if additional wooden ship elements, or artifacts, were present. The first revealed bones, ceramics, and wooden ship structure. Timbers included a ceiling plank, footwale, and frames buried under a meter of overburden. The second test unit produced more bone, shoe leather, ceramics, and a footwale. A third unit exposed the ship’s keelson, where the main mast had been stepped, along with additional ceramics, bone, and leather. The presence of a well-preserved shipwreck had been confirmed; attention then centered on finding a source for the magnetic anomaly by conducting a systematic metal detector survey.
Protruding slightly above the sand, a concreted knob marked the tip of an anchor fluke at the shoreward extremity of the site. Removal of sediments revealed a large wrought-iron anchor, buried fluke down in the sand. The shank of the anchor was found to be twisted and broken off, just below the lugs that would have held its wooden stock in place. The broken portion of the shank with its hawser ring was not encountered; however, a squared timber, possibly representing a bow cant frame, was found lying next to the anchor crown. The metal detector survey, which extended 6m on either side of the ballast mound, confirmed the anchor as the major source of the 400-gamma anomaly. Although no additional large metal items were encountered, many smaller targets were detected in and around the periphery of the mound, suggesting that the spatial extent of the site’s contents was confined in a concentration associated with the stones. Removal of overburden at one of the smaller metal targets revealed a trail of concreted ship’s fasteners, as well as additional pieces of wood.
These initial glimpses of the Emanuel Point Ship’s hull structure, hardware, and associated artifacts offered a tentative time period and cultural affiliation for the shipwreck. Features of the central architecture (keelson, mast step, and footwales) closely resemble examples recorded on sixteenth‑century shipwreck sites at Highborn Cay, Bahamas (Oertling 1989a), Western Ledge, Bermuda (Watts 1993), and Red Bay, Labrador (Grenier 1988). The anchor is similar in shape and construction to others found at the sites of Spanish ships wrecked off Padre Island, Texas, in 1554 (Arnold 1976). Ceramic sherds provided additional diagnostic clues; at first, sediment stains masked their characteristics. Early assessments of the ceramics suggested a temporal range in the 1700s, a time-frame rather incongruous with the ship’s construction pattern. However, after application of hydrogen peroxide to remove stains, a darkened glazeware, incorrectly identified as a black lead-glaze type common to the 18th century, proved instead to be tin-enameled majolica, of a type more consistent with earlier usage. A preponderance of coarse unglazed earthenware sherds were also recognized as fragments of early colonial Spanish olive jars.
The site’s compact and discreet stratigraphy accounts for its astonishing degree of preservation. The modern surface of the sandbar consists of loose coarse sand and fine silt, which migrates along the bottom depending on seasonal tides and occasional storms. The top of the ballast mound protrudes above this surface, serving as a substratum for oyster growth and a haven for stone crabs and fish. Below the sand is a second stratum, consisting of a dense matrix of oyster, clam, and mussel shells bound in compacted silt. This layer is the result of gradual accumulation of generations of marine organisms that thrived and died on the artificial reef created by the remains of the ship. The dense stratum of shell has effectively capped the upper portion of the site, protecting it over the years from erosion by waves and currents. Below the shell cap is a complex layer of loose silt and shell which represents the original deposition of marine sediments that entered the hull as it wrecked and disintegrated. Artifacts and other remains associated with the wrecking and subsequent slow collapse of the ship are found within this layer, while those that accumulated in the bottom of the vessel during its sailing career are trapped in a dense but soft organic deposit between the ship’s frames and in its bilge. This deposit has produced a surprising array of floral and faunal remains, as well as other organic debris. Below the ship’s hull are sediments of clean, gray sand with occasional remnants of ancient shells and worms, that represent the original sand bar upon which the ship came to rest.
Results of these preliminary investigations at the Emanuel Point Ship, carried out between October 1992 and February 1993, led to several conclusions. The well-preserved shipwreck is one of the earliest found in Florida’s waters. Dating from the First Spanish Period (1513-1763), the site could be associated with the first European attempts to colonize Florida, perhaps even the remains of a vessel lost during the Luna expedition of 1559. Located near shore, in a region of the state noted for its historical attractions, the shipwreck site and its contents should be developed and interpreted in a cooperative effort for the public benefit. Opportunities for research and publication, in conjunction with a long-term project, would attract scholars and students from a number of academic disciplines.
With these initial considerations in mind, a research strategy for additional investigation of the site was developed. The plan called for further test excavations at specific locations of the site to determine the extent and document features of the ship’s hull, and to determine the cause of the vessel’s wrecking and the mechanics of its subsequent disintegration. Aside from the remains of the ship, its contents would be studied to determine where it came from, what its career had been, and why it came to be in Pensacola. Cultural clues to the people who lived and worked aboard the ship, from the time it first set sail, would be analyzed to learn more about early maritime customs that were adapted from Europe to the Americas.
Research strategy also called for a highly public investigation to involve university students and private volunteers in both field and laboratory procedures. A university field school and graduate student intern program were organized, and a system of volunteer registration and orientation was devised. A conservation laboratory, dedicated to the shipwreck, would be established in Pensacola to analyze and treat artifacts and to prepare them for local exhibition. Project activities were to be accompanied by public lectures and presentations, workshops, and laboratory tours. Media was to be given access to the project’s operations to help to share the progress of the investigation with the public. Periodic public and professional publications were scheduled, and a major exhibition of shipwreck materials was planned.
During the 1993 field season, a comprehensive metal detector survey focused on obtaining more information about metal objects associated with the site, which had been divided into quadrants by a grid system. A detailed metal detector survey of each quadrant located a number of targets which were plotted on the site map for future reference. Hand fanning of sand revealed that some of the targets were intrusive metal cable and chain links, while those buried below in the shell hash were left undisturbed and plotted on the site plan. Over the course of July to October 1993, seven one-meter test units exposed central features of the hull and a wide variety of artifacts and floral and faunal specimens (Smith 1994). The first five units revealed the main mast step assembly, pump sump, and port hull components. Forward, beyond visible ballast, removal of overburden from a one-meter unit exposed a metal pitcher and a starboard section of the lower hull. Hand fanning slightly forward and to port of the pitcher revealed a large copper cauldron that was recorded but left in situ. Aft of the ballast mound, work at another test unit exposed some concretions and a fragment of wood. Hand fanning of another metal detector target in the same region uncovered a concretion determined to be a gudgeon strap and the upper remnants of the stern post. Measuring between the gudgeon strap and amidships at the master couple frame revealed a length of 12 m between the two points, and a starting point from which to gauge the extant remains of the vessel. At the end of the season all exposed units were lined with plastic and backfilled to protect the wooden features.
The next season’s excavation strategy called for uncovering the stern section of the wreck to determine if it was continuous with the midship structure, and to record architectural features that might help to explain the ship’s wrecking process. However, before continuing excavation, more magnetometry was conducted in the months of May and June 1994 around the site. Results of the survey were mixed, in that no associated sixteenth-century material was found, but a number of other relics were, such as a car body surrounded by beer cans, metal cable and wire, among other items. One artifact of a maritime nature was located, an iron fisherman’s anchor with an iron stock.
From June until August, 1994, specialized equipment was under construction to facilitate the dredging activities, among other preparatory tasks before excavation could begin. Incessant thunderstorms for the better part of June also hindered the pace of work. From mid-August until early December, four 2 m units in the stern were opened. These units revealed the lower stern structure, loose gudgeon straps, artillery shot, disarticulated timbers and concretions, as well as many other artifacts. After completing these four units in late February 1995, an additional seven 2 m units were opened. Two noteworthy finds from these units are the remains of the rudder and a concreted breastplate. All excavation at the site was halted in June. The hull was backfilled with sand, while the outer area around the hull was lined with plastic before backfilling to distinguish the limits of the excavation. The grid system was dismantled, but metal datums were left in place for future reference.
Grid Coordinate System
In order to record intra-site spatial relationships a fixed series of datums was established at the site. The metal detector survey had determined that targets ceased to be acquired approximately 10 m beyond the ballast mound. Therefore, to allow for undetected features, a 30 m by 40 m grid was superimposed over the wreck site. The grid system also was conceived to readily accept the possibility of additional discoveries of associated material in the Emanuel Point vicinity. To this end, an arbitrary point in deeper water to the south and west of the ballast pile was chosen for a zero northing and zero easting datum from which to superimpose a grid system over the main area of the site and surrounding area. The 30m by 40m grid was aligned with the axis of the ship’s keelson was determined to lie along a bearing of 270 degrees magnetic north. The rectangular control grid was delineated around the site by placing eight primary datum rods into the sand bar. Aligned with the keelson, and the main mast mortise as the midpoint, the grid was laid out by triangulation.
The grid was further subdivided into four equal quadrants. Subdatums were placed in the center of each of the four quadrants for the purpose of acquiring triangulation points in close proximity to features throughout the site. Polypropylene line was then laid to connect the eight primary datums. In conditions of poor underwater visibility, this line functioned as a pathway to the datums, and as a boundary line to contain errant divers. Each datum corresponded to an arbitrary northing and easting value, although the grid was aligned to the ship’s hull remains, rather than a magnetic direction. For example, the southwestern corner of the grid was numbered 100 N and 100 E. Moving northward along the grid, the Northing number increased until reaching the northwestern corner, which was numbered 130 N and 100 E, while the Easting number increased, moving eastward to the southeastern corner, which was 100 N and 140 E. Individual excavation units were numbered according to their position in the grid and were identified by their southwestern corner number, for example, 114 N/131 E.
Logistics and Equipment
Located in Pensacola’s Historic District on the shore of the bay, the project headquarters occupied a two-story house adjacent to the Pensacola Historical Museum. The conservation laboratory was housed in the basement of nearby T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum. Access to and from the shipwreck site was a short commute by boat from Pitt Slip marina, or the Marine Patrol dock at the mouth of Bayou Texar. Close proximity to the city also enabled the team to quickly assemble parts and supplies for malfunctioning equipment. Due to the lack of a suitable work platform to store gear, all equipment was hauled on and off the site daily. Moving gear, setting-up and breaking-down, accounted for at least a quarter of an eight-hour work day. A typical day (7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday) involved conducting a morning briefing, loading gear into the vehicles, transshipping it to the boat, off loading excavation equipment onto the work platform, dropping the first set of divers in the water, eating lunch, dropping second set of divers in the water, breaking down the equipment from work platform to boat to vehicle to headquarters, recording the artifacts, debriefing of the day’s progress, and planning the events for the next day.
Personnel for the majority of the project consisted of the project director, in charge of the overall management of the project; the field director, responsible for the daily activity at the site; a conservator, who managed the acquisition, analysis, and conservation of artifacts; a field supervisor/dive safety officer, whose duties included logistical control and diving operations; and a field technician, charged with vehicle and equipment maintenance. Each of these members were employed by the Bureau of Archaeological Research. Over the course of the project six graduate student interns and a number of volunteers assisted in the field and in the lab. Constraints imposed by the size of the available watercraft and excavation strategy limited the crew size to never more than ten team members, and usually no more than six, on the site at any given time.
At the onset of investigations the survey team used a 21-foot research boat from which to deploy divers. As the project developed, additional watercraft included a 22-foot research boat, a 12 by 30 foot wooden barge, a dredge pontoon, and a floating dredge screen. The latter two craft were adapted from a pontoon boat and Hobie catamaran by the team to provide sturdy and rugged platforms for the dredge screens. For the most part, SCUBA was the primary air supply, but was also complemented by two Brownie Third Lung hookah systems that could each accommodate three divers supplemented with Spare Airs in the event of an emergency ascent. Working during the summer in the 80-degree-plus water required some form of body protection from oysters and sea nettles, while working comfortably in the winter in waters ranging in the low 60s was accomplished with dry suits.
Work on the site was conducted using relatively simple and time-tested underwater archaeological digging and recording tools. Removal of sediments and ballast stones to open the initial test pits was accomplished by hand. Later, an 8 hp Briggs and Stratten engine harnessed to a Gold Divers circle jet pump, and a 5 hp Honda trash pump, each forced water to a Gold Divers couple jet to create two independent water induction dredge systems to remove overburden from the site. Sediments removed from the site were deposited onto a floating screen with 1/4-inch mesh and then hand-sorted to retrieve small objects missed by the excavator down below. When working in the sediments between the ship’s frames, the mesh was covered with a 1/16-inch screen to further aid in recovering small objects from the dredge’s outflow. Other tools included trowels, paintbrushes, metric tapes and folding-rules, various types of levels (line, bubble, carpenter’s, including a goniometer—an electronic carpenter’s level encased in a waterproof housing), slates faced with mylar sheets, PVC grids, plumb bobs, and calipers.
Recording the site in plan view was accomplished by triangulation. Depths of the hull and elevations of artifacts were recorded in relation to the anchor’s upper fluke tip. This was accomplished by stretching a bubble-level from the anchor tip to the desired object. Once a point on the stern knee had been entered, elevations of artifacts and disarticulated timbers in the stern area were taken from this point. In addition to recording articulated remains, samples of sediments and odd-looking deposits from inside the hull structure and ballast mound were retrieved using both plastic bags and bottles.
Fig. 5. Timbers of the Emanuel Point Ship were recorded with the help of a digital carpenter’s level in an underwater housing.