July 16, 2008 – Wednesday – 20 Square Inches

By Robert Krieble

For the next three hours my entire world is condensed into the size of a dinner plate. Twenty square inches is the size of the lens on my mask and with my face 6 inches away from the worksite it is also the extent of my vision. A 4″ dredge head, my fingertips and the circular outline of a grey object are all I see. Silt, sand, wood particles, and organic material have reduced visibility to six inches from the constant digging. My hands are clumsy and wooden as the constant abrasion of the sand against my waterlogged fingers has removed all sensation. Sounds have been reduced to the distant hum of the generator and the rhythmic release of bubbles. The hard pull against my regulator let’s me know I’m almost out of air. Warmth and food await 10 feet above me, but I don’t want to go up yet. I stretch my last breath of air as long as I can and regretfully make my way to the surface.

Robert Dredging

Today was my first chance to finally dive on and excavate the Black Rock Wreck. Yesterday the first group of divers uncovered the wreck to the same extent they had in the 2006 expedition; exposing a 10 foot wide section of one side of the ship from the keel all the way up to the knees where the deck would be attached to the hull. My assignment was to assist Toni and Peggy in the continued excavation of the main trench. We started by removing the layer of loose weeds and turtle grass that filled in the depression created around the timbers from previous dredging. Working as a team we would feed sand into the dredge after filtering it through our fingers to make sure not to miss any small artifacts. Removing the sand is a tedious process as the loose sand at the edges of the hole constantly avalanche into the freshly cleared area. Time passed…it seemed like hours that we didn’t find anything, but then we started uncovering a familiar looking lumpy piece of metal and my small world changed. I knew instantly what it was…a large “dead eye” that was part of the standing rigging and would be part of the hardware supporting one of the two masts. I looked at Toni, pointed to my own eye, and she confirmed my guess with a nod and a thumbs-up!

Ship’s Deadeye

After six hours underwater I’m cold and tired, but our day was productive and exciting, and can’t wait to see what we find tomorrow.