On April 21 – 22, 2007 approximately 50 divers from Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Canada came together to learn about nautical archaeology (figure 1). The event was put on by the Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center (PLESRC) of the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermilion Ohio, along with assistance from the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST), and was made possible through a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management.
The goal of the workshop was to give divers skills to help document Ohio’s underwater cultural resources, otherwise known as shipwrecks. By creating final products such as site maps, reports and dive slates they can educate the general and diving public about the multitude (between 1000-8000
) of wrecks that are in our “backyard”. Of those,
four (Adventure, W.R. Hanna, F.H. Prince, The Craftsman
and the Dundee
) have been surveyed and recorded as archaeological sites, all by MAST divers working with PLESRC
Topics for the weekend included historical researc
h, Ohio, Federal and International shipwreck laws, report writing, diving/boat safety, survey logistics and equipment, trilateration
, drawing techniques
, among many others. Of special note was Dr. Kevin Crisman
as A & M University who spoke on how each site was different and how flexibility and ingenuity
are key for a successful project.
The Saturday seminars were broken into sections. First time students learned basic survey techniques. Second year students learned more advanced techniques and mentored first time students. And third year students were given a small budget and taught additional skills that would need to plan and run their own shipwreck survey in 2007.
On Sunday, the second year students were responsible
for running the survey of the S.S. Vermilion (picture 2), a simulated shipwreck conveniently located just outside the classroom on the shore of Lake Erie. The ship was divided into survey sections and
the first year students were assigned tasks (figure 3). On the first “dive” the surveyors could talk to each other and ask questions of the second year students. On subsequent dives they were to remain silent (there is no talking under water after all
) and were to communicate using signals, tugs and by writing notes to their dive buddy. After the assigned measurements
were taken, the divers went inside to plot their data (figure 4). Upon finishing that task, they “re-entered the water” and took additional
measurements until their section was completed. After all the sections were finished they were collected and put together so the students could see how the whole site plan looked after just a few hours of work (figures 5 & 6).
The next step for these divers will be to do a practice survey in White Star Quarry in Fremont, OH on May 19-20. This will be the first time they will use their newly acquired skills underwater. Upon completing this portion of the workshop, the students will be official MAST members and can then participate in the many projects coming this year.
Thanks to Mark Pansing for providing the photos for this blog.