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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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





Fins Beer and Barbecue…

24 09 2009

Or a first hand account of the semseter start at SDU MAP:





Fieldschool Day 18

19 08 2009
All the tourists are gone

All the tourists are gone

… and so are we… (I thought this last impression of Prerow Beach was a fitting picture for the last day). Home to Esbjerg after a lot of cleaning and clearing up. We certainly had a great time – perfect diving, exciting archaeology, a lot of motivation and good mood everywhere and great barbecues!

So, in the name of the “University teaching staff”, many thanks to all participants for the great work and motivation!!!

We would also like to thank Detlef Jantzen and Jens-Peter Schmidt from the Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege for inviting us, the Bauamt Fischland Darss and Frau Pfeiffer in the Kurverwaltung Prerow for their support and help with our “basecamp”, the international school in Prerow and here especially the caretaker Her Schütt for all the help and support with equipment and the gym, our “site-office”, and last but not least Familie Fiedler in Richtenberg for equipping us with a full field kitchen and fridge and our trusty “handwagen” and speedwelding the UMA!

Jens Auer

Assistant Professor

Maritime Archaeology Programme





Fieldschool Day 7

2 08 2009
Sarah measuring and drawing the planks of the FPL 77 wreck

Sarah measuring and drawing the planks of the FPL 77 wreck

Woke up to the tip-tapping of rain on the tent, but before we could even think about the day to come, the sun was already out and hot, like a baked potato. I gave my briefing of the things to come while everyone ate their Master-choco cereal and tried to catch bugs. Some went as far as to set up ‘wanna-bee traps’ to lure in our breakfast stealers. After the briefing, everyone immediately set about doing their jobs, no questions asked.

The first dive of the day was very successful. We decided to re-establish a baseline along the ship so to ensure accuracy in the drawing and in the future sketches that were to be made. The first divers in, Bente and Andrew completed the outline within one dive. The second dive consisted of Martin and Kostas drawing in details and refining the outline. Finally with the third dive, Christian and Liv went around the wreck taking measurements, primarily of the bow and stern sections. At the end of the dive, after the divers flopped aboard deck, a mini-briefing was held where we could discuss what had happened underwater.

As for the ‘land-based underwater archaeology’, the FPL 77 wreck has still been worked on continuously throughout the days. Sarah and I completed one side of the plank tagged ‘100,’ which was removed yesterday and today Sarah and Andrew completed that plank. An extensive legend was completed with various types of trenail holes, trenail holes with iron nails, wooden plugs … etc. Furthermore, we have continued to have both those on FPL duty and camp duty give the wreck a nice luscious wash done as often as possible. With such hot days and the baking sun helping our tans, the wreck needs more and more water so it does not dry up. Then again, so do we – back to diving.

Cate Wagstaffe





Fieldschool Day 6

1 08 2009
Jens Auer removing outer planks of FPL 77 4am wreck

Jens Auer removing outer planks of FPL 77 "4am wreck"

Another sunny day in Prerow, Germany, started at 7 am with breakfast and briefing of the upcoming day. The aim of the day was to tag the rest of the wreck’s timbers, identify the tags on the drawings that were made the previous days and to make a few corrections on the site plan drawing.
The first two dives went perfect and almost everything was completed, so that our dive instructor Jens Auer and diver Konstantinos Alexiou only had to make a few corrections and then start doing tomorrows tasks of cleaning and start drawing. Unfortunately, Jens found out that everything was distorted because our two base lines were too far away from the wreck. That means that the outline of the wreck was wrong and thereby also the frames and the planks that were drawn in today and yesterday. We therefore need to set up two additional baselines tomorrow and start all over again. But then again we are here to learn so it is good that we were ahead of our plan. At the end of the day the waves became huge and supervisor Marja-Liisa Grue and diver Martin Lonergan reported about waves at a height of two and a half meters (they are still walking from side to side).
In the camp the work continued on the FPL 77 wreck where the upmost layer were taken off the wreck so further registration could continue. New elements and planks were tagged and pins in different colours were put in to point out fastenings.
Bente Grundvad