July 14 2008 – Monday – Mystery Wreck at Drum Point

By Jason Burns

On East Caicos we have relied on a number of high tech and low tech methods to find sites. We started in 2002 with helicopter over-flights. In 2004 we utilized tow-boarders behind boats. In 2006, we employed tow-boarders and remote sensing utilizing a marine magnetometer, differential GPS and Hypack navigations software.

In 2008, we are once again utilizing marine remote sensing, but we have added the element of oral history. As archaeologists we seek to answer the questions of the past through multiple avenues and utilizing local knowledge is one of those avenues Levardo Talbot, our local DECR representative spoke with his cousins on South Caicos. The cousins are fishermen who know the waters of East Caicos better than anybody. They pointed out an area near Drum Point as holding the remains of two wooden hulled shipwrecks.

In our quest to locate wrecks, we ran a marine remote sensing survey in the area they detailed and wouldn’t you know it, we found a wooden hulled shipwreck! The ship, not the Trouvadore, is about 100 feet in length, is of composite construction (both wood and iron components) probably dating from the late 19th century.

What is really interesting about this site, it that you can actually see the wreck event as it happened. It appears that the ship struck the reef and turned around, stern to the shore. The crew then deployed the bow anchors to hold on for dear life. The bow of the vessel, along with the anchors, is located on the reef flat. The vessel then settled behind the reef with its bow torn off.

Donkey Boiler

The wreck site contains at least three anchors, machinery, a donkey boiler (small boiler to run the deck machinery) and the hull itself. It is clear that the vessel is not the Trouvadore, but we have identified another wreck on East Caicos, and helped narrow the possible identification of the Black Rock Wreck.



Hull Skeleton

On to the next wooden hulled wreck, stay tuned for more…