Identifying Wrecks Whilst Staying Dry, by Steve Cook Steve Cook has been a NAS member for a few years and attends pretty much every course and event and dive that we run. Here he explains how he added yet another dimension to his diving – whilst staying dry. Where do I find information about that wreck I dived on? That is the question I ask myself every time I dive on a wreck location. I am a keen recreational diver and have often used resources like Divernet wreck guides to provide me with information as well as speaking to other divers and skippers. A few years ago Mark Beattie-Edwards NAS CEO came and gave a talk to our dive club and I became so fascinated by his talk I immediately became a member of NAS and this has given me the opportunity to dive on new and unknown wreck sites. I also became more interested in how to interpret wrecks and where to find more information. When I heard NAS were putting on a course about the Lloyd’s Register Archive and interpreting wrecks I instantly signed up to learn more. The course tutor was Jack Pink a PhD candidate from the University of Southampton and hosted by Peta Knott and Carl Yates from NAS. Prior to the course Peta had sent though links to the Hampshire shipwreck index, Lloyd’s Register online and a report by the Maritime Archaeology Trust on the East Winner shipwreck from May 2014 to use on the course. The course started with Jack doing a presentation on Archaeology and Documents which gave the session some context. This was followed by a review of the different source types and how to access these. I found these sessions very helpful because I now feel as if I know how to access the Lloyd’s Register Archive and how to start some research. …. After a break in the next session we were given a task to track a ship through entries in the Lloyd’s Register. We had to look for the schooner Rhoda Mary built in Falmouth (Point) in 1868 and to note any changes over the years. This might seem like an easy task but it certainly was not! The task needs planning as the register contains lots of notes and shorthand details which require research against the key at the start of each register year. Once we completed this task, we sent our results through to Jack and then as a group we went on to review our findings. One of these findings was to find an earlier entry than anyone had previously noticed. After lunch we were given a second more complicated exercise to research. This time it was a wreck off Hayling island near Portsmouth using the report from the Maritime Archaeological Trust (MAT) on the East Winner Bank Shipwreck, the Hampshire section of the Shipwreck Index of the British Isles and the Lloyd’s Register. Our task was to suggest some identifications and context for the wreck site. What the ship might be? and if we had time follow our chosen wreck through the Lloyd’s Register. The task was very interesting to conduct. The MAT report provided data such as location, build, wood type and position of items like coal recorded near the wreck which is out of context with the local area/environment. The report also gave a possible age window for the wreck. The Hampshire shipwreck index gave some possible candidates for the wreck and the Lloyd’s Register was able to narrow down the potential candidates. That said, I still had quite a few candidates none which fitted the wreck with complete certainty, so more research over a greater period of time will be needed. This is the same conclusion the group came to when we reviewed our findings and Jack made a very good point of not trying to make what we found fit with what we wanted it to fit with. …. …. So, I started the course by wanting to know how to access the Lloyd’s Register Archive to aid my research into the interpretation of wrecks. Can I do that now? Yes. But what do I do next with this new knowledge? Well NAS have the Traditional Boat Records’ Archive project and the Welsh Wrecks Web Research project which all need help recording and researching so that might be a good place to start. I can’t wait for the next online course on the 20th June which will be looking at the Traditional Boat Records Online Cataloguing training course. Start your journey to discovery and see our upcoming courses here. Have your own story to tell? Learn about writing for us here.