Friday, 16 January 2015

Flood protections go in

Geoff, Kev and Colin, MNH Technicians, have just installed temporary flood defenses outside Peggy's cellar. These should see us through the upcoming high tides until we get Peggy out in ten days time...

Looking towards Peggy in her cellar

Looking away from the cellar door, across the dock

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Coconut Conservation

I am currently preparing exhibits for the new Quayle Gallery at the Nautical Museum. The idea of the gallery is to tell the story of Peggy and of George Quayle during the absence of the boat itself.
We are planning to show some of the objects from last year's archaeological dig. Some, like this coconut (one of two), are rather unusual.

Drinking coconut with marine accretion

It would appear that the conservation of marine archaeological coconuts is a new or at least rare discipline! Would the two hundred year-old coconuts (fashioned as posh drinking cups) shrink and crack when dried out? Would sea salt destroy them as they dried?
To counter any possibility of the latter they have been soaked for several months in clean water. I measure the amount of salt in the water regularly to see at what point it is at a negligible level.
One of the coconuts was squashed and split when we found it. I am now allowing this one to dry, and I'm recording the width of the cracks and splits to see if they change as it does so. I'm not expecting any dramatic changes, after all and as my colleague Matthew Richardson pointed out, coconuts have evolved to withstand long periods floating in the sea - it's a primary means of propagation.

Monitoring the split coconut while it dries

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Deadline Dawn

I often recall the title of Anthony Booth's hostage drama Deadline Dawn at times of intense activity and pressure. Our sixth form production of it was stoked with hysterical tension and was totally over-cooked.
Readers would be surprised therefore to witness our calm, in spite of the fact that we are working furiously in the lead up to removing Peggy, finally, from her cellar on the 28th of this month (January 2015).
The Conservation Facility is in our possession now and we will be painting the floor next week. I will be buying material to make a temporary, insulated, climate-controlled enclosure there for Peggy. In the next few days we'll be installing flood barriers at Peggy's cellar to protect her from the tidal flooding predicted for 22nd/ 23rd of January, and we will be preparing the scaffold platform outside the cellar for Peggy, and putting up a temporary roof over the yard to protect her from the wind and rain. Gallas Foundry are making last minute adjustments to the lifting cradle. The crane and lorry drivers are lined up to undertake the lift and transport, and the necessary road closures are in place. Our staff photographer will be on-hand to record the proceedings and we will be filming the lift from a remote controlled drone.

As Harrison Ford might say, "punch it, Chewie".