He(ll)mmoor.

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

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Guns in 3D

6 01 2010

Frederik Hyttel, one of the students here at the Maritime Archaeology Programme in Esbjerg won our “HMS St George gun modelling competition”…- well, or just delivered an incredibly detailed model…
You can download his model of an iron 12 pounder lifted from the wreck of HMS St George below. Frederik’s model is based on the total station survey of a gun and carriage on display in the Strandingsmuseum Thorsminde. To view the Rhino 3D file, you need a copy of Rhinoceros3D. A fully functional evaluation version can be downloaded here. The Sketchup file can be viewed and modified with the free 3D modelling software Google Sketchup.


Iron 12 Pounder HMS St George (Rhino3D file – 17MB)

Iron 12 Pounder HMS St George (Sketchup file – 26MB)





The St George Rudder and Cannons Day

6 01 2010

Recording the guns of HMS St George

The day we were all going to know as St.George Rudder and the Cannons Day started very early, in fact way too early for most of the Maritime Archaeology students, but as dedicated students we sacrificed our sleep in (which never goes past 9:30 of course). After traveling north through the Danish tundra we arrived at the edge of the Nissum Fjord. To be exact the small settlement of Thorsminde where the Strandingsmuseum was situated. Here we started the day by (under protest) being split up into two groups. We were to take turns in taking points with the Total-Station as well as measuring the remaining canons and carriages of the St.George by hand and in precise measurement drawn archaeological drawing of the famous St.George Rudder.

After the (which has known to be a standard procedure) arguments and discussions of the first group, about whether the 3 cm diameter hole in the 7m rudder was on an original part of the rudder or a reinforcement, the archaeological drawing could start! Unfortunately at this point one and a half hours had passed and it was time for a change of stations.

The recording of the cannons had to be continued. Using the total station we started with 4 orientation points on the ground, and then recording points at every important angle and curve which would later be used to create a 3D model by using a program, loved by the students, called Rhino. With little coffee breaks and a short excursion to the pier the work made steady progress, plus we got to a free tour of the  museum by the very welcoming director (who also provided the coffee).

By the time it was starting to get dark, the last points of the carriage were being taken and recorded, and the last details of the St.George rudder were being drawn (this turned out to be an amazing drawing thanks to our special portuguese friend). Once finished we could make our long way back home to Esbjerg…

Watch this spot for the results!

Isger Vico Sommer





Prerow – THE MOVIE

26 11 2009

18 days of fieldschool in 5 minutes…

See Delia Ni Chiobhain’s new fieldschool movie, either here or in the gallery section…





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





ICUCH Seminar in Esbjerg – October 5th 2009

24 09 2009

On October 5th, the annual ICUCH (International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage) Seminar on Maritime Heritage Underwater, Management Exploitation and Access is hosted by the Maritime Archaeology Programme in Esbjerg. Attendance is free, so please come along…





High Viz and drilling platforms…

24 09 2009
Andrew looking professional in safety gear...

Andrew looking professional in safety gear...

During the summer (this post is a little late…) we got the chance to visit the drilling rig ENSCO 70, which was being refitted for a Mærsk contract in Esbjerg harbour. Esbjerg is developing into the Danish Offshore capital, and drilling rigs and platforms have become a common sight in the harbour.

Maritime archaeology is closely linked to the maritime industry sector, in methodology, and often in day to day tasks. It was therefore great  to get aboard a drilling platform and learn more about the daily life and routines on rigs and the production process.

Many thanks again to John Howell at Mærsk for making this visit possible!!

Jens Auer

Assistant Professor

Maritime Archaeology Programme