July 5, 2008 – Saturday – Aboard the Turks & Caicos Explorer II

by Donald Keith
Project Director

We are finally all together, having collected our crew members flying in from the Cayman Islands, Florida, Canada, Texas, Arizona, and even Australia. An expedition like this requires that you assemble three things in the same place at the same time: the people, the boat, and the equipment. We have two out of the three, and now we have to steam 100 miles to Grand Turk to pick up the equipment, but even that isn’t going to be as easy as we thought. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, but when things don’t go according to plan you change the plan and keep going. That’s why they call it an “expedition” instead of a walk in the park. Expect the unexpected and all that. I have been in the Islands for more than 2 weeks already, preparing things. Months before that I was preparing expedition equipment in the US, shipping it to the TCNM, and making logistical arrangements to have it loaded into a container and shipped from the Museum to the Caicos Marina and Shipyard, where it could then be loaded directly onto the ship.

The live-aboard dive boat Turks and Caicos Explorer II (TCX-II) will serve as our “Mother Ship” for the next three weeks. It has all the essential things we need: air compressors, communications, generators, work space, water-makers, laundry, galley, accommodations, etc.

Turks & Caicos Explorer II

To that we add our own specialized search and excavation equipment such as diver tow boards, a magnetometer, GPS equipment, computers, photo gear, induction dredges, hoses, and pumps, diver propulsion vehicles, hundreds of meters of rope and line of different types, special slates for drawing and recording underwater, and plastic drums for storing 300 gallons of gas for the outboard engines. The actual work will be conducted from our fleet of small boats including two 14 ft inflatable boats, two RIB’s (rigid inflatable boats), Robert Krieble’s 26 ft Boston Whaler, and Levardo Talbot’s 33 ft motor catamaran work boat.

Each day we will divide the group up into individual teams with specific missions. On East Caicos there will be one or two teams excavating the Black Rock Wreck, a team towing the magnetometer, and at least one team checking the “anomalies” that the magnetometer team finds.

Brief bios of the “science team” members may be found on the website at 2008 Who’s Who, but we will also introduce the Captain and crew of the TCEx-II. Each of us will participate in keeping this log. We promise not to pull any punches. The purpose of this log is not to serve as a public relations rag in which everything we do and see is wonderful, but to share our personal impressions of the highs and lows and what it’s really like to be on an underwater archaeology expedition. We want to give you an opportunity to experience it vicariously, at least to the extent allowable by our literary abilities.

We have a lot that we will try to accomplish over the next three weeks, so stay tuned and—let the adventure begin.