1 04 2010

Getting ready for a 30m dive in Hemmoor

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the lack of snow at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, with many asking themselves where on earth the snow disappeared to. Well, I know where it went…and that’s right here, in Esbjerg! Under the circumstances, there was only one thing to do, and that was to take a vacation. What’s that you say? You suggest Cancun? Santorini? Or Eilat? Ohhh, the diving in beautiful is Eilat. Ppppffffff, no! This is not good enough for Jens’s core of super trained divers. Destination of choice: Hemmoor, Germany! (Look it up on a map, it took us forever to find it to).

This trip coincided perfectly with the arrival on the newest member of the Maritime Archaeology Programme; a new van named ‘Big Blue’. This new vehicle, along with ‘Wee Blue’ was our ticket to paradise, bright and early on the Monday morning. At least, that was our plan, until ‘Wee Blue’ got jealous of the new van half way to Hemmoor and broke down, leaving half the team stranded in the dark corners of industrial Hamburg (it’s ok, we found entertainment), while the other half made it safely to destination to indulge in food, beverages and joy riding. In the end though (that is to say 4-5 hours wait), ‘Wee Blue’ was no match for Jens ‘It drives like a tank’ Auer, and the two groups were reunited in Hemmoor to start a week of intensive training.

Officially, the training week did not start until Day 2 (Tuesday), even though two divers went in on Monday evening, and quickly found themselves enjoying a moonlight dive with flooded flashlights (and there was no moon either). When training started, the students were divided into two separate groups, surrounded by two assistants each, and had to accomplish a series of underwater tasks.

From Tuesday to Friday, the students never ceased to amaze Jens with their sheer determination and know-how. Imagine the look on his face when he found his students to be skilled underwater carpenters (Underwater Light Construction Exercise). He is now even considering utilizing a scaffold in this summer’s field school in Germany after seeing how quickly and efficiently the students build-up a frame (Underwater Heavy Construction and Lifting Exercise). This week was also the opportunity for Jens to discover that his students were the next Alfred Eisenstaedt and James Cameron (Underwater Photography and Videography), and for the students to practice their core archaeology skills (Underwater Drawing/Recording and Measuring).

The crowning achievement of the week, and the moment most students had been waiting for, was the Deep Dive to 30m. This was to take place on a free diving platform located at the center of the lake. After redefining the term ‘poop-deck’, and enjoying an improvised canoe trip along with a light jog with the deep-sets by the first group, students went down to 30m in pairs to experience the abyss (Note: if you ever hear your mother calling you to clean your room at 30m, you’re probably mildly suffering from narcosis).

Even though the training week was intense and demanding, Jens did find it in his heart to give us a little free time. It is in those few moments that we discovered the joys of Master Crumble (Thank you Jens, my life will never be the same). Some found entertainment in reinventing their looks (Sideburns and Mustache: 0; Jason: 1), while others dreamed of fame, honour and women (Spartacuuusssss!!).

This stress-free and relaxing training week would not have been complete without Jens’s ultimate test, which consisted of braving a massive blizzard in order to find our way home. In the end (that is 10-11 hours later), we made it home, happily saying that we survived He(ll)mmoor.

Nicholas Ranchin-Dundas


Diving Week. Hemmoor, Germany

21 11 2009
Underwater scaffolding

Underwater scaffolding or where not to put a scaffold frame (Hemmoor dive training week Fall 2009)

The diving team (participants in the commercial diving course) of the first year students in the Maritime Archaeology Masters Programme had the first diver training week in Hemmoor Lake. It was the best team-building event ever!

Yes, it was a little bit cold, and of course a little bit tiresome…But we enjoyed every minute! Everything is exciting when it is the first time. Dry suit, tethered or untethered diving, orientation by using compass, rescue drills, lifting objects with lifting bags, constructing a frame underwater… And if you have the strength to continue with the night dive, the universe rewards you with a full moon!!!

Communication between divers and surface was amazing,  learning new vocabulary, use short and clear sentences. The most important was, that day by day we started to realize that no matter what role one has in the team (diver, stand-by diver, tender or supervisor) the key word is RESPONSIBILITY. I suppose that this way and step by step we will become professionals, hopefully! And somewhere between good food, philosophical discussions and environmental awareness we started to realize what being an international master student is all about.

Germany is from now on our favorite country, where everything is so cheap and there are sunny moments! On Friday we visited the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum, which was also very interesting.

Marja and Christian thank you for your help and support, und Vielen Dank an unseren Professor Jens.

Magda Mesogiti

Fieldschool Day 2

28 07 2009
Cate Wagstaff draws as the other students study the details.

Cate Wagstaffe draws as the other students study the details.

Began Tuesday at 04:00 following an urgent call for assistance from the local authorities. Had breakfast and headed to the Bernstein Weg beach. We arrived at 05:20. A small patch of wood showed through the sand, on the edge of the surf. We began clearing the sand with hands and shovels. First planking then treenails and then frames appeared. We dug all of the planking proud of the sand. A two-pronged digger was used to loosen remains. The remains were loosened a little more with shovels. Following this it was taken out of the sand completely by the digger. We could see the boat was originally clinker built. The clinker hull had been covered with flush outer planking. There were the remains of two flush planks on top of original clinker planking and frames. Filling planks were used to assist the flush laid planks to sit securely on the clinker planks. The frames appeared to be of different sizes. The iron nails were sometimes on the upper and sometimes on the lower face of the planks. They had had roves around them as indicated by square indents around the small square holes. There was a little metal staining in some cases in the rove indents. There was one wooden nail that was square at its head it was the same width as the iron nail heads, about 1cm . Cate made a drawing of the remains. Bente and Kostas took photos of the morning’s proceedings. There was sea grass on the underside of the wreck, which was the inner side of the hull. The planking butts of the clinker section overlapped, showing the direction of the stem and stern. The wreck was attached to a heavy wooden board transported to a large pick-up truck. Then it was transported to our campsite and where we kept it water logged with a sprinkler.
08:00 We were back at our site. We had three dives today on the Ostsee-Bereich wreck. Thijs and Jens were first into the water. This was also their first dive on the wreck. They cleaned most of it with brushes. Maja and Cate were the next dive pair into the water. They picked up where Thijs and Jens left off, cleaning the wreck. The last dive pair of the day was Andrew and Martin. Their main aim was to start a photo record of the wreck. They also took some working shots of each other cleaning the wreck. Bente was dive supervisor for the day. The dives ended at 18:15. Dinner was followed by discussions of the day’s events and of plans for the next day. The remainder of the evening was spent processing the day’s accumulated data.

Sarah Fawsitt.

Fieldschool Day 1

27 07 2009
Martin cleaning the wreck

Martin cleaning the wreck


For a period of three weeks the Maritime Archaeology Programme, usually based in the University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, is relocating to sunny northern Germany.  The class of 2008 along with professors, Jens Auer and Thijs Maarleveld arrived at Prerow on Sunday the 27th of July. The class is made up of Cate Wagstaffe, Andrew Stanek, Marja Lisa Grue, Christian Thomsen, Martin Lonergan, Bente Grundvad, Kostas Alexiou, Sarah Fawsitt, Delia Ni Chiobhain, and Liv Loftus. On Sunday we erected our tents and had an evening swim out to the wreck site. The wreck was located 200 metres from shore as was expected.

Day one

Monday morning our main aim was to launch our two boats. Our newest boat, the Mapper launched without any problems. Our inflatable however had a puncture so we were unable to launch it. The Mapper and two divers headed for the wreck site where a buoy was secured near the wreck.

Meanwhile back at the camp the first divers prepared their equipment and headed down to the beach. When they arrived, Mapper came into shore to pick them up. There were four dives altogether. The first divers entered the water at 12’51. They put down a measuring tape to use for offset measurement in the center of the wreck. Christian Thomsen begun the sketch, while Cate Wagstaffe was ‘cleaning’ the wreck. Cate took over the sketching half way through dive and Christian continued with the cleaning. They finished their dive an hour later. The next divers were Andrew Stanek and Sarah Fawsitt, they focused on the sketching and took some more measurements. They also did certain amount of cleaning. Their dive was from 15’17 to 15’51. Kostas Alexiou and Bente Grundvad begun their dive at 16’52. Kostas cleaning and Bente made some more measurements and sketching. They reached surface at 17’57. Martin Lonergan and Marja Grue began their dive at 18’36. Their aim was to check out the extent of the wreck, but their dive had to be aborted after 15 minutes, due to a time constraints. After the last divers and most of the equipment were brought to shore the powerboat was taken back to the initial area (surfing school) and the last of the equipment was taken out, before it was anchored. The people responsible for the mooring and driving the boat were picked up from there.

After dinner we had a debriefing and were told that due to a wreck washing up on a nearby beach we would be having an early start in the morning.

Diving for archaeology

8 07 2009

Last checks before a night dive in the commercial diving course

At the end of May six – freshly graduated and tired but happy – commercial SCUBA divers received their licenses from a representative of the Danish Maritime Authority in Esbjerg after the last oral exam…

Congratulations and well done!!

Christening the MAPper

11 05 2009
Professor Maarleveld and MAP students and staff during the christening of our new MAPper

Professor Maarleveld and MAP students and staff during the christening of our new MAPper

Today we could proudly launch (well, christen on dry land) our new survey and dive boat, the MAPper. We are very grateful for the support from the Claus Sørensen Fond in Esbjerg, which allowed us to purchase the brand new Pioner Multi. We are looking forward to use in the coming fieldwork season!

Jens Auer

Assistant Professor

Maritime Archaeology Programme

Deep Diving Week. Hemmoor, Germany

12 04 2009

Monday the 30th of March the Maritime Archaeology Programme commercial diving course went to Hemmoor in Northern Germany to spent a week diving in the famous Kreidesee. The Kreidesee is a flooded chalk quarry near Hamburg that was turned into a perfect dive site for divers at all levels. The visibility is fantastic, sometimes more than ten meters.

Recording the sailboat (B. Grundvad)

Recording the sailboat (B. Grundvad)

Besides gaining experience with dives to 30m, the week in Hemmoor also served as recording and navigation practice. Diving was either tethered using the Interspiro Divator full face mask, or untethered and on half masks.
The “archaeological objects” to record with measured sketches and photographs included a sailing yacht with all sails set at a depth of 12m and an airplane with skeleton passenger (with sunglasses, submachine gun and suitcase full of money…).

A strange encounter... (B. Grundvad)

A strange encounter... (B. Grundvad)

Getting the buoyancy right proved essential, as one fin kick at the wrong moment could leave everybody in the dark for minutes.
One of the easier dives was sightseeing around the famous concrete Rüttler with a truck parked on top of it (no compasses involved…).
Finally, the trip was rounded off by a visit to a unique “Greek – Indian” Restaurant with authentic music.
Despite some small hiccups, such as wrong navigation (the Hemmoor Bermuda Triangle), slight buoyancy problems, constant entanglement and half of the team struck by the flue, etc. I think we all agree that our dive trip to Hemmoor was a fantastic experience that only increased our love for diving.

Bente Grundvad