Nikumaroro, 1700 Local Time, 28 July 2007
The sea has kicked up in a major way. Transferring from Nai’a to
the skiff and back has become hazardous, with the skiff hovering many feet
above the dive deck, then plunging below. It’s easier to jump down
than climb up, and it’s a good
thing that the crew is strong and skilled, with many hands to catch and hold
those who become airborne.
The total station is working at the Seven Site, and data are being collected
at a great rate. It took several telephone calls to the distributor, and
a thorough reading of the manual, but perseverance is all.
The Seven Site team spent most of the day digging metal detector hits and
continuing with established units. A Springfield .303 cartridge was found
at an 18cm depth (about 7 inches, very deep for this area). This is a British-made
round which must have been left by the New Zealand survey. So questions arise:
If they were at this site, why didn’t they see the bones? or if the castaway
was still alive, why didn’t s/he pelt out of the bushes demanding rescue?
A Springfield is not a pop gun and should have been audible a good ways.
Also found: part of a small pocket knife, and shards of a rectangular mirror.
In the Village, more hits being dug, more items being found. No details
yet, as that group wasn’t back aboard when Ric called.
During the day the kite was flown over the Seven Site. It was not an unqualified
success, primarily because it was immediately surrounded by swarms of boobies
and frigate birds. “What is it? Look at the crazy colors! Is it good to eat?
Is it a new kind of bird?” Perhaps they’ll get used to it and allow the team
to get some photographs eventually.
A frigate bird – wing span about two meters. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Nikumaroro, 1700 Local Time, 27 July 2007
The arrowhead team did serious scaevola hacking
and found … nothing much. The position where the arrowhead used to be was
on the ocean edge of the buka forest. They found dead buka, and no big scaevola
roots, but now it’s solid scaevola with no openings. There was nothing on
the ground, no man-made materials, no explanation on the ground for the feature
seen in the 1938 photograph.
Ric and Josh did some work with the 1939 photograph that shows the arrowhead.
In 1995, analysis by Photek seemed to indicate that there was some man-made
material in the area. They will make an effort to pinpoint the spots and
see what may be there, as 1939 is obviously too early for materials from
the village to have made their way to the area.
The skull hole is fully shored up and excavation continues. John Clauss
has the U.V. scanner operating. It’s very hot out of the breeze, inside the
walls of scaevola. Metal detecting and digging of hits continues in the village.
|Dateline: Nikumaroro, 1630 Local Time, 26 July 2007
It was a good day in the village yesterday. Very
hard work, of course, especially given that everyone slept poorly. The boat
dragged its anchor in the night and had to steam off and drift to avoid a
sudden impact with the reef. There was a certain zombie-ish air to the entire
team as a result.
But the unit at the Carpenter’s Shop has begun to reward the effort
with metal artifacts. There are things that correspond to known substructures
on the Lockheed 10, and some of them have part numbers on them. There are
bolts, bushings, nuts, fittings, all sorts of things. There are assemblies
that offer the possibility of certain identification, and items which are
quite unique; high quality machine parts, all found in the same general area
as was the elusive Wheel of Fortune.
So spirits are high and work is to proceed with cataloguing and collecting,
as well as continuing excavation.
At the Seven Site additional burn features with bird bones have been found.
This is also promising, as it speaks of a fairly long-term campsite rather
than a quick one-time lunch.
The pig experiment has been fast-forwarded to the bone stage. The primary
question to be answered is “Do the crabs go off with bones, and if so, where
do they take them?” So Kar has disarticulated the bones
and left them lying loose, rather than waiting for time, sun, and crabs to
separate them from each other.
Kite flying has been put off until the wind drops some, as the whole rig
was threatening to take a nose-dive into the ocean.
Today the Arrowhead Team was set to survey that area and see what might
|Dateline: Nikumaroro, 1530 Local Time, 25 July 2007
A relatively slow day, with little organized activity.
Some people slept, others pursued lines of investigation of interest to them.
Ric, Tom King, Gary, Kar, and Robin visited each area of interest to discuss
the progress and plan the next segment. Mark was along to film the High Level
Meeting, which turned out to be a Good Thing: they were all sitting on a
coconut log talking and the log collapsed, dumping them in the dirt – Caught
on Camera. Perhaps we’ll stream it here when they get back.
Andrew and Walt took over-lay maps and metal detectors to the Nutiran side
of the lagoon shore. That shore line has changed so much that it seemed to
them to be worth checking for newly exposed (or newly buried) metal items
that might be of interest. Barb, Lonnie, and John assembled the kites and
took them off down the beach for testing. Today will be the day they try
to get photographs of the Seven Site with the rigs.
Ric will take John, Bill, Andrew, and Josh into the bush to find the arrowhead.
This cleared area appears in the 1938 photograph, just up the ocean side
of the island from the Seven Site. Ric is interested in knowing if it can
still be discerned on the ground, and if there is any chance it was man-made.
Getting there will require careful navigation and serious cutting of scaevola.
On the evening of the 24th, the whole gang had a birthday party for Amelia.
She was 110 years old, a good age. The crew was well prepared, and baked
a cake on which her name was scribed. They even had a figurine with a leather
flying jacket and helment, and a map. The only difficulty: who blows out
the candles? So they opened one of the salon windows and called out, “Happy
Birthday, Amelia!” and just then, a puff of wind came through … candles out.
An impromptu ceilidh* developed after dinner, with singing, poetry recitals,
and kava, and a good time was had by all. A nice break in the grind, and
it’s hard at it again today.
*a Celtic word meaning a participatory party with all performing, each according
to his or her talents.
Nikumaroro, 1600 Local Time, 24 July 2007
It was 113° at the Seven Site out in the open.
In the Skull Hole they don’t know how hot it was. The thermometer only goes
to 125° and
the mercury was sitting on that mark all day.
Detail take from the new Grid Map set. 2007 satellite photo provided
courtesy Digital Globe.
has continued at the Seven Site with the area greatly extended from the 2001
perimeter (the map at right gives some indication; it isn’t accurate because
it relies on verbal description). They are finding more artifacts as they
expand the edges. Some of it is readily explainable, such as shot-to-pieces
bottles, obviously the remnants of recreational shooting by the Coasties.
More units will be established and work will continue on the units from 2001.
There have been metal detector “hits” and additional bird bones and the like
The “G” feature has been obliterated by vegetation growth, although the
remains can just be identified. One interesting find was a large sheet (or
rather, its remains) of heavy iron corrugated sheeting like that found up
around tank. There is no trail of pieces between the two, so apparently
more was brought to the area than was needed.
In the village, more small pieces of metal, and a pulley. This caused some
excitement until some of those on the team with aircraft experience looked
at it: clearly too large and heavy to be from the aircraft, which had electric
gear and flaps.
Today the team members had the option of standing down and resting, or spending
time on shore investigating things of interest to them. Halfway through the
time on the island people are too tired to be using power tools and need
a day off. Tom King, Ric, and Gary planned to tour each of the important
areas and plan for upcoming excavation and documentation.
|Dateline: Nikumaroro, 1600 Local Time, 23 July 2007
People are acclimated pretty well now, learning
to pace themselves, learning what to do and what to carry to stay comfortable
and healthy in a challenging environment. The work is hard and the heat is
harder, but you do get used to it.
The village site is still being cleared and metal detected. Two more small
pieces of aluminum and a radio control knob have surfaced. The knob looks
like it comes from the village, but has been collected for firm identification.
The Carpenter’s Shop is on the agenda for today.
Ric was at the Seven Site yesterday and reports that the clearing operation
has been incredible.
|They have taken this:
||And turned it into this:
Full Seven Site Scaevola
Seven Site cleared in 2001.
Three of the members of Nai’a’s crew have done heroic duty cutting
and hauling brush. The team has relocated the feature which had brown bottle
glass in it, and have found more brown glass. Tom King
will set it up as an archeological unit to fully excavate and understand
the site. A long piece of thin copper wire has also been found, with one
end of it deformed as if it had been wrapped around something. Otherwise,
a good number of M-1 carbine cartridges, left by the Coast Guard men, are
scattered around – perhaps as much as a full magazine’s worth.
Ric went to the “G” feature and found it pretty much obscured by the tree
which was once behind it but has now grown over and around it. He will clear
that back so it will be ready for work in the next day or so.
Nothing dramatic in the way of news or finds yet, but it’s early days. Spirits
are high, the team is solid, and everyone is headed in the same direction.
1600 Local Time, 22 July 2007.
Work is well begun in the old village. The team has cleared the area between
the Rest House and the radio shack (WI15b) down to bare ground and metal
detected the entire area. Only one item of significance has been found, a
small piece of aircraft aluminum, cut at a right angle, very close to where
a large piece, also cut, was found in 2003. This was collected.
The village on Nikumaroro at its height – a sad contrast to the heaps of
debris in the coconut jungle now found there.
As one can see from the maps there has been some question as to exactly
which building was the carpenter’s shop. The team was able to get very good
measurements and azimuth throughout the area, and with that information they
will be able to pinpoint the exact location of the shop on the 1953 photo.
Ric was planning to overlay that information on the 2007 satellite photo
last night, and then be able to set up a clearing and surveying party at
the carpenter’s shop this morning. We’ve been greatly interested in this
site for years but have not been able to be sure we had the right place;
this is excellent progress. The team will also finish “dado alley” and begin
cataloging and sorting the data collected.
Clearing at the Seven Site is done and search work will begin today. Out
of curiosity the team has put a thermometer out in the middle of the area.
This was probably a mistake. It varies a little … between 110° and
115° F (43° – 46° C). It’s not information that really
helps anyone feel better. The pneumatic loppers have done yeoman service;
both sets are in use all day, going through about four tanks of compressed
air (dive tanks). One suffered a structural failure late yesterday that is
probably not reparable in the field, but with the clearing done the remaining
set will be adequate.
Health continues good, with close monitoring of water intake for everyone.
Dave acquired a three-stitch cut sharpening his bush knife, and Ric has some
coral scrapes which are healing nicely (thank you Mr. Antibiotics!). Otherwise,
except for the discomfort of the heat at the Seven Site and the humidity
in the Village, all are well.