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2010 ECU Nearshore Expedition
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Blog: June 4, 2010

Dan Brown
East Carolina University

Today I joined the dive crew returning for the fourth day to the shipwreck, Strathairly. I teamed up with my friend John. Our job today was to run an additional tape from the original baseline. A baseline is a line stretched between two known points from which underwater archaeologists measure and record shipwrecks. By extending the baseline, we would increase the recordable area of Strathairly.

Divers recording the Strathairly site (Program in Maritime Studies)
Divers recording the Strathairly site (Program in Maritime Studies)
We were only diving in 30 feet of water, but the fluctuating currents of the Outer Banks can make water temperatures unpredictable. Today it was 55 degrees, and because our bodies lose heat in water 20 times faster than in air, 55 is cold! Fortunately there wasn't much water movement.

On our first dive, we attached a 300-foot tape to the first baseline and swam it out to the edge of the wreckage. John drew what is called a "mudmap" of the site, which is a simple unscaled sketch of a large area. Then we ascended the anchor line and changed tanks.

On our second dive, we descended to our new baseline and worked together using tape measure, mechanical pencils, graph paper, Mylar, duct tape, and heavy PVC slates to record our data. This was not easy to do, as it was cold enough that John was shivering by the end of the dive.

After recording our data, we ascended, having doubled the research area of Strathairly in just two dives. The original baseline stretched 70 feet, whereas we had increased the research area by 82 additional feet. This will allow for even more detailed recording of data that will tell us a lot about how this ship was built, what it was used for, and the people connected to the ship.

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