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Cook Reader's Point - The Reader's Point Vessel Preliminary...

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The Reader's Point Vessel: Preliminary Field Report on the Excavation of an Eighteenth-Century Sloop in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica by Gregory D. Cook The Rastafarian fishennan watched me through dan- gling dreadlocks as Iexited the water after a two hour dive on the wreck. "What you find 'pan de boat today, man?" he asked. I showed him the pipe stems, ceramic sherds and a few pieces of lead shot that J had retrieved while excavating. He and his son, David, peered intently at the artifacts I had raised as he explained to the boy in patois, the local dialect, that people used to smoke from white clay pipes. Johnny and his son frequently came to visit our site, walking the mile or so from the nearby fishing village, following the sound of our compressor and pumps. Some local fishermen believed that the old vessel we were excavating must have been laden with gold. Why else would w have come so far to work so hard on the site? Others were concerned that we would disturb the duppies, ghosts of dead sailors. This was so worrisome to our Ja - maican staff that we performed a traditional ceremony in which we placated the duppies by pouring white rum on the site as a gesture of respect to them. But many, like Johnny, harbored a sincere interest in the project. They appreciated the artifacts not for their dollar value, but for their ability to tell us about life on board a ship from 200 years ago. We had many memorable discussions about Jamaica's history with visitors to our site, shaded by man- groves on the shore of S1. Ann's Bay. Access to visitors was one of the advantages of work- ing on a site so close to land. We excavated an ]8th-cen- tury British sloop situated just ten meters from shore, near a projection of land known as ''Reader's Point." It was one of NOHTH 1 b me.ter3 JAtlAlCA ~""' ..Ic READER'S POINT _~/~ SLOOP ~-_ .... -'- - I Map: G. Cook The 18th-century sloop lies just of! Reader's Point, in St. Ann's Bay Jamaica, lows us to locate targets that may six 18th-century ships discovered on a survey of the bay conducted in 199] and 1992 during the Co- lumbus Caravels Archaeological Project (CCAP), directed by Dr. James Parrent (see rNA Quarterly 20.1: 8-]4). Test trenches on the vessels indicated that each of the hullsJlad been heavily used, with evidence of wear and repairs abundant among the remains. Their close proximity to each other, away from the eastern half of the bay where most maritime activity occurred, suggested that we had come across an 18th-een- tury ship graveyard, or disposal area, for vessels that were no longer seaworthy. The ships were discovered using sub-bottom sonar, which penetra tes the seafloor wi th sound waves. TIlis technology al- INA QUar1erly 21. 3 15
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compressor sat on a boat anchored sediment. Our ve sel, designated be buried under several meters of over the site, providing enough air "Site 16" in the CCAP survey, was for two divers and the pneumatic air discovered in 1991. Test excavations scribe used to chip away concretions revealed a medium-sized vessel, not which fonn on iron artifacts in salt heavily built, but capable of with- water.
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