July 7, 2008 – Monday – Ready-Set-Go!

By Peggy Leshikar-Denton

I came to Provo from the Cayman Islands, but via Ireland – and the World Archaeology Congress. So, when landing here on Saturday 5 July I delivered good wishes and positive energy from many of our colleagues around the world for a successful expedition. And when I left Ireland, a lady in airport security handed me a small stray Irish coin – which I took for good luck – passing it on to our leader, Don.

My first job on Tuesday 6 July was a great one – I was tasked with creating the “boat team” bios, so I interviewed and photographed the T&C Explorer II crew. It was a perfect way to meet these skilled and interesting people, and ended up being a bonding link between the “science team” and the “boat team”. Things just feel right with all of the people here, and believe me, that is a good thing for the close quarters of living on a boat and depending upon each other for three weeks!

Captain JF Chabot








Chrissy Miller, Purser








Dave Tunnicliff, Chef and dive instructor

Don plotted our course. Toni flew to Grand Turk to gather essential survey and mapping supplies, Randy gave a medical overview course to the boat crew, while others readied the inflatable boats. We towed the catamaran – our intended diving platform for East Caicos – to Leeward Cut, to have engines repaired – usual start-up expedition stuff.

Today, Monday 7 July, we had GPS training – so that the four GPS units would all be set up and used in the most efficient manner for recording. And we sailed from the marina on the southeast end of Provo, up to Northwest Point. When we arrived, many of us jumped in the water for a pleasure dive to shake-down our equipment and get ready for the days ahead.

Meanwhile, the mag team had found no promising targets yesterday in False Cut off Northwest Point, so today they headed east to survey the north side of Northwest Point Reef and the western side of Wheeland Cut – but still no terrific targets in the depths they could reach in their boat. So, it seems that Chippewa and Onkahye just might be spread across the shallowest reef crests. This is entirely possible – I have witnessed similar wreck patterns on the windward reefs of Grand Cayman – that is, little outside the reef where ships first struck, but wreckage spread across and inside the reef, where the vessel broke apart and scattered.

And Bertha – reports from Dennis, back in Cayman, suggest that Bertha is a tight Category 3 hurricane with a developed eye, but still likely to pass north of us – the worst we expect is possible ocean swells…

So, we have all been studying the briefing books about Chippewa and Onkahye – theorizing and plotting our course for Northwest Point – we are ready and set to go!