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New Discovery

The Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE) would like to announce the discovery and identification of the 2-masted schooner Plymouth.

An unidentified shipwreck was located in June 1996 by CLUE member Rob Ruetschle in Lake Erie, approximately 20 miles off Cleveland, Ohio. CLUE re-visited and performed an archaeological survey of the wreck during its 2013 and 2014 field seasons. The wreck is colloquially known as the “Cleveland Tiller Wreck” and was identified by others as the schooner Mackinaw.

Archaeological data obtain from the underwater survey was compared with CLUE's extensive archival research to determine the identity of the wreck. After analysis of all the available data CLUE has identified the wreck as the two-masted schooner Plymouth, which sank on the night of 23 June 1852, after a collision with the sidewheel steamer Northern Indiana.

CLUE 2012 Field Season

Much of the 2012 field season was devoted to continuing work on the brigantine Sultan discovered last year in Lake Erie off Cleveland, Ohio. In support of the decision by the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST) to officially moor this wreck and open it to the general diving public, CLUE assisted MAST with fund raising through presentations at local dive shops and scuba shows. MAST is a group of avocational divers involved in the archaeological survey and mooring of shipwrecks in Ohio waters. Sufficient funds were raised to both properly moor the shipwreck and perform a detailed archaeological survey, which was performed over the summer of 2012 under the direction of CLUE’s Director and Chief Archaeologist David VanZandt. The survey results are now in the process of being documented and will be published at a later date.

MAST survey of the Sultan

Top/left: 1860s plate artifact on wreck (Photo by David VanZandt / CLUE)
Top/right: Survey divers returning aboard the boat Holiday (Photo by MAST)
Bottom/left: Divers and boat at MAST mooring buoy (Photo by Chris Kraska)
Bottom/right: Diver on the wreck (Photo by Chris Kraska)

David also assisted MAST with follow-up dives on another previous CLUE-discovered wreck known as the “East Breakwall Barge,” which MAST began surveying during the summer of 2011.

An additional major CLUE survey project was conducted with the assistance of Dr. Lynn Harris, an underwater archaeologist and associate professor at East Carolina University. Lynn assisted David in performing a survey of two suspected shipwrecks within the boundaries of Cahuita National Park in Costa Rica in June, 2012. The sites are restricted to snorkeling only and the use of SCUBA equipment was not permitted. Nevertheless, investigations suggest two possible candidates, Christianus Quintus (Christian V) and Fredericus Quartus (Frederick IV). Both ships belonged to the Danish West Indies Company and wrecked in this area off the Costa Rica coast in 1710 while being involved in Caribbean slave trading. Further detailed surveys on these ships will continue in the future.

Costa Rica survey boat (Photo by David VanZandt / CLUE)

Costa Rica shipwreck anchor w/Toni VanZandt, top, and cannons, bottom (Photos by David VanZandt / CLUE)

In Lake Erie Tom Kowalczk of CLUE located a new shipwreck off Vermilion, Ohio. This small sailing vessel is suspected to be the two-masted scow schooner Lily, which capsized and sank in a squall in July, 1862. It was initially dove in late September, 2012, and a mud map with basic dimensions was produced. Jim Wilson, the president of the Bay Area Divers (BAD) scuba club was invited to participate in this first dive. He later published an article about the wreck in BAD’s newsletter Bottom Times.

Sidescan image of the Lily (Sidescan by Tom Kowalczk / CLUE)

Mud map of the Lily (Sketch by David VanZandt / CLUE)

As part of CLUE’s public outreach activities, Jim Paskert of CLUE continued to give shipwreck talks at various library branches over the summer. Jim has given these talks for five consecutive years, and this year he gave 20 talks to children and adults. Jim also presented on the Sultan at BAD’s annual Shipwrecks and Scuba show, of which CLUE is a gold sponsor. David presented a talk on the Sultan for the MAST fall meeting and a paper on the Sultan at the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) conference in Leicester, UK, in January, 2013. This SHA paper has been submitted by David, Jim, and CLUE member Kevin Magee to the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) for publication.

Finally, David worked at the request of East Carolina University to assist in the identification of a shipwreck believed to be the Quedagh Merchant located in the Dominican Republic. This ship was captured and sailed by the privateer and accused pirate Captain Kidd. David used his VanZandt Historic Shipwreck Identification Method (VHSIM) to evaluate the data from the wreck site and determined that the historical and archaeological data were consistent in sufficient detail to establish that they belong to the proposed ship with no irreconcilable discrepancies.

Costa Rica:

CLUE is planning a second season of survey work in Costa Rica. Stay tuned for further updates.

CLUE Discoveries:

Shipwreck Date of Discovery
Plymouth 26 Jul 2013/ Jun 1996
Jun 2012
Sultan 12 Aug 2011
TEK #2
Oct 2010
Dump Barge
Oct 2010
Small motorboat
Oct 2010
C. B. Lockwood
Aug 2010
PIB Stone Barge
Jul 2010
John F. Eddy
Oct 2009
Sep 2009
East Breakwall Barge
Aug 2009
Buried Tug
Crib Wreckage
Jun 2009
5:15 Barge
Jul 2008
Buried Schooner
Little Sail Boat
Sep 2007
John J. Barlum
Jun 2007
Detroit #2 Dredge
Oct 2006
Stone Schooner
Oct 2006
Anthony Wayne
CSU Wreck
117th Street Tug
Oct 2002

Barge F


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