Anchors Away, by Charlotte Crumpler The past two years have been an amazing adventure, but its time for me to raise the anchor and ride the wind to different shores. At the end of this month I’ll no longer be the NAS Public Engagement Officer. It’s hard to say goodbye… so I’m not going to be – not entirely anyway. Though I’m moving on to pastures new I’ll still be continuing to lend a hand with NAS where I can. Just like the disgusting smell that lingers after you collect a shell from the beach only to discover, to your horror, that there was something living inside of it - you can’t get rid of me that easily. Though my time with NAS has been fairly brief, I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to continue as the Public Engagement Officer. Despite reaching the end of the HLF funded project I initially joined onto, I was delighted and very grateful to be able to soldier on. Over the past two years I’ve loved every opportunity to take advantage of the NAS mantra and discover something new. Whether it was walking along the Sandwich foreshore at far-too-early-in-the-morning o’clock searching for uncovered hints of our history, hearing passionate members of the maritime archaeology community share their research at conferences, or enduring a multitude of sales pitches from members convincing me to take up diving, I’ve loved every second of being part of this inspiring, passionate and unique community. If I had to write a report on everything I’d discovered over the past two years, I couldn’t. Partly because I have the memory of a goldfish, but mostly because it would be far too long to qualify as a Members Story. Instead, I’ve decided to round up some of my favourite discoveries below. Oh buoy, where to begin? ... ... 1) Nautical archaeology is wonder-full Holding a seemingly inconspicuous piece of metal swiftly becomes awe-inspiring when you realise it has spent hundreds of years sleeping silently on the seabed. It becomes even more exciting when you uncover its story, and the journey it has made to end up sitting on your palm today. Seeing that look of disbelief and wonder on the faces of the public as they interact with heritage has continually proven how inspiring and necessary the NAS mission is. You don’t have to be an archaeologist to appreciate the significance of the work NAS does, and I’m incredibly thankful to have been involved in it. ... Charlotte's dad, Robert Crumpler, being shown artefacts by Nicole Schoute at Fort Cumberland ... 2) The sea isn’t for me As the Public Engagement Officer I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful images of underwater wrecks and artefacts. I’ve heard the act of diving described as being the closest experience to flying as humanly possible. It sounds so magical. Having lived in Swansea prior to moving to Portsmouth, I often found myself sitting on the shore and watching the sun descend below the sea. I’ve even gone as far as to describe myself as the Welsh version of Disney’s Moana – forever called toward the waves. But clinging on for dear life whilst trying to keep my stomach where my stomach should be (and not all over the boat) whilst on expeditions in Eastbourne has proven that the sea is something I can only admire from a distance. I commend anyone brave enough to dive into the freezing cold depths of the UK’s sea, but it definitely isn’t for me! ... A rare photo of Charlotte not huddled over or meditating to cure her sea-sickness on the side of the boat out of Eastbourne. ... 3) You shouldn’t mess with the Fort Fox On my first day back in 2018, entering Fort Cumberland felt like a momentous occasion. Not only was I about to start working in my dream role for such an interesting charity, I was going to be working in a Napoleonic fort. “How many people are able to say they work in a fort?” I said to myself whilst walking past the cannons near reception. It’s safe to say I felt very cool. Even cooler when I realised that the fort came with its very own fox. I’d catch her wandering around the grounds, even sneaking into buildings to see what treats the security guard Peter had for her. Despite my efforts to befriend her with chicken, she stayed shy and never less than a few metres away. I had to do a double take whilst glancing out of the NAS office window one afternoon. When, what I knew as a cute little skittish fox, was suddenly sat on top of a cannon looking very menacing. My first reaction was to quickly grab my phone and take a photo. Just like I did for the many of the amazing sunsets I saw from within the fort walls. If you’re lucky enough to explore Fort Cumberland don’t forget to take photographs of the view, just don’t mess with the fox! ... ... 4) The NAS community are passionate and inspiring I’ve worked with a dozen charities and public sector organisations in the past, but I’ve never met a more passionate and inspiring bunch of people than the NAS community. They will get out of bed and dress themselves in layers of waterproofs and wellies to head out into the morning frost and onto the intertidal zone even before the sun has risen. They’ll dive with less than one metre of visibility for the chance to interact with the underwater heritage that they can hardly see, and still enjoy every second of it. Though I’m definitely not a morning person or brave enough to dive, I find it so incredibly inspiring. The NAS trustee’s who give their spare time and energy to ensure the NAS continues its mission into the future never give up, even in the most uncertain times. The NAS core team of staff who tenaciously keep the cogs turning day in day out because their passion for what they do knows no bounds. You all inspire me so much. Though I’m not an archaeologist, it’s hard not to take some of that passion and excitement on board. Especially when there’s a new exciting project to be done, or a new site to be found. It’s the passion and drive I’ve had the pleasure of being around over the past two years that has inspired me to drive toward my own passions. Its also why I can’t simply say goodbye to NAS, and why I think a lot of our wonderful community continue to dedicate themselves to the cause. If there’s one nugget of wisdom I’ve learned during my time at NAS it’s this: The world may be falling apart around us and our heritage may be disappearing to the tide, but you can always find a home, a spark, or an opportunity to learn something new with NAS. Discovery really is just the beginning. On a final note, I want to wish everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with over the past two years the very best. As we collectively sail into the uncertainty of 2021, I’ll leave you with some appropriately themed lyrics from my favourite artist. ... Anchors away I can't promise you that everything will be okay All I can say Is when the water comes So will the horizon. - Sara Bareilles. ... One of the many beautiful sunsets viewed from Fort Cumberland Have your own story to tell? Find out more about writing for us here.