1985 Season

In order to establish the areal extent of the wreck a magnetometer survey was conducted by Geoscience, Inc. of Gainesville, Florida. The survey was made over a two day period in April 1985 using a Geometrics 806 Proton Procession Magnetometer towed behind a small boat and a Del-Norte radar ranging system for positioning control. Two transponder stations were set up and their locations established on the state plane coordinate system by triangulating with permanent benchmarks. Buoy markers were placed to delineate the four corners of a roughly rectangular search area. Two additional markers were placed along each side of the rectangle to act as navigation guides while steering the boat. All buoy locations were plotted using the Del-Norte positioning system. On the first day of the survey the positioning system experienced microwave interference from the Jacksonville Naval Air Station and no work was accomplished. The following day, no interference occurred and the survey was completed. Figures 6 and 7 show a graphic representation of the survey results (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; SJAEI 1985; Geoscience 1985).

From June 1985 through the autumn of 1986, several survey dives were made on the wreck using scuba. Very little material protruded above the bottom sediment to indicate the site. A section of the paddle wheel shaft, oriented north to south, lay exposed with one end broken off and the other covered by a log. This feature identified the midships area of the vessel, providing a reference point to conduct further searches. It also suggested the wreck lay on an east-west axis, consistent with historical accounts of the loss. Scattered timber and metal pipes littered the nearby area along with a number of entangled crab traps and fishing line. West of the paddle wheel shaft the rudder post identified the stern and confirmed the orientation of the vessel. No evidence of the ship was found forward of the paddle wheel shaft to help indicate the location of the bow. Random probing with a metal rod revealed the extensive wreck structure buried under 4 to 7 feet of mud. The areal extent of the structure was not determined until a systematic probing survey was conducted in 1991 (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; Manley 1992:147).

These exploratory dives allowed SJAEI divers to become familiar with the condition and layout of the site, but no systematic documentation was conducted. In evaluating the conditions on the site, it was felt that scuba was not appropriate or safe for the proposed excavation work. The solution was a surface supplied air system with hard line communications. This would provide a direct link to the surface and a means to record measurements and artifact provenience (Holland, personal communication; Manley, personal communication; Manley, 1992:147-148).