By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Six years after first discovering it, “amateur sleuths” rejoiced Monday after bringing a 900-pound anchor thought to be lost in 1792 to the surface in Washington state’s Puget Sound.
They hope to prove they’ve found the stream anchor that was reportedly lost exactly 222 years earlier, on June 9, 1792, from the HMS Chatham, an 80-foot survey brig that was part of Capt.
George Vancouver’s larger exploration of the Pacific Northwest. But the sea did not relinquish the relic without a fight, according to the South Whidbey Recordand Peninsula Daily News; even though a trench was built beneath the anchor and a specially constructed cradle made to protect it, the waters were so choppy it took divers some six hours to raise the anchor with the help of a crane.
Causing further delays, its tip was stuck fiercely to the sea floor. Still, the divers were able to recover the barnacle-encrusted anchor without breaking it, and it’ll soon be shipped to Texas A&M University, starting an 18-month study of the anchor.
“I’m pretty overcome,” amateur historian Scott Grimm—who has toiled tirelessly for six years to surface it alongside Doug Monk, the sea cucumber diver who first spotted the anchor—tells the Seattle Times.
Though historians long thought the anchor slumbered in Bellingham Channel, Grimm pored over explorers’ diaries and other documents that led him to the conclusion that the anchor’s location off Whidbey Island could be the correct one.
It’s now up to Texas A&M researchers to verify that, and it may not be an easy task: It remains to be seen whether the anchor was stamped with identifying markers.
(This kind of discovery certainly isn’t unheard of. One dive last year resulted in the recovery of one mythical treasure from 1592.)
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