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2010 ECU Nearshore Expedition
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Blog: June 14, 2010

Stephen Dilk
East Carolina University

This week, those students rotating onto the beach site would participate in the excavation and mapping of another beach wreck. Located approximately eighty yards from the bathhouse at Coquina beach, the Laura A. Barnes was a four-masted fore-and-aft rigged schooner, built in Camden, ME in 1918. Invested in the coasting trade, the vessel was run aground in a dense fog in 1921. It remained in the tide line, periodically becoming exposed by extreme weather until 1974, when the National Park Service decided to move it to its present location.

Students record the timbers of Laura A. Barnes (Program in Maritime Studies)
Students record the timbers of Laura A. Barnes (Program in Maritime Studies)
Nat Howe, Katie Cooper, Jon Brown, and Saxon Bisbee, accompanied by Dr. Brad Rodgers and myself, crowded into a van and drove to the site. You might be asking yourself, what would motivate a crew to work a mere hop- skip and jump from the ocean on a busy beach, during a hot and sunny day in the summer? The answer of course was the promise of subsurface information awaiting the application of shovel to sand!

As this is a field school, it is meant to be a learning experience for the students. Consequently, before we set to digging, Dr. Rodgers asked the crew to evaluate the site and to use the observations to pick appropriate places to dig. Since most of the wreck lies under a dune, the crew decided to dig a 5 ft by 5 ft cross- section from the keelson to frame ends.

This small swath was chosen because it could yield a disproportionately large amount of information for the time and labor put into excavating the section. We also decided to dig out the only exposed end of the wreck to determine if it is the bow or stern.

After a long day of digging (and frequent ocean swim cool downs), the crew had measured and drawn much of the remaining portions of the wreck. Tomorrow's work will consist of taking site photos and more digging around the end of the wreck.

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