It’s our first dive in Sweden. In fact, we are not far from (within sight of) the site where the Vasa sank in 1628. Our friendly and helpful dock master pointed to four poles upright about 50 yards from the Andromeda, our 65’ Nordhaven wonderfully comfortable, go anywhere, totally amazing boat for this project. Back to the dock master, “There are four wrecks inside those poles. One is 30 meters long; there’s a houseboat and then some other old wooden stuff.”
A hundred pounds of dive gear each later Sarah and I and Travis and Tom are 20 feet deep in zero viz looking for the wrecks, and I have just made the discovery of the day: an old boot and I’m most thankful that it’s empty.
Just an arm span from the boot is a turn of the century whiskey bottle, which might explain how the boot got here. It’s also empty. Probably a good thing because if it were full we might have to test it for decomposition and I didn’t eat breakfast. A couple more arm spans moving west (Sarah is navigating for us.) I feel wood. Old soft crumble in your hand wood, and it’s planking with a narrow rail and every few inches a small rib. It’s a boat of roughly less than 15’, perhaps a big dingy or a small fishing boat. We feel our way around the railing. I’ve got Sarah’s hand on the wood with my right hand and am sweeping through the muck with my left, which is also holding my very useful video camera with twin lights. In the lights, we can’t see a bloody thing, but we can almost see the orange glow of the lights, so I keep them on. (Okay, I’m an optimist, so what?)
We move another few arm spans west. More wood. Same deal. Old crumbly fall apart if you breathe on it, well almost, wood. But it’s definitely a boat. The hull planks are about 8 inches wide by an inch or so thick. (Archaeologist Sarah would want me to think this in metric, but it’s cold down here, and my brain isn’t working that well.) Feeling down the outside, I count three before the hull disappears into the muck. On the inside the ribs are roughly 4 inches by four inches, spaced about 16” apart, so my cold brain guesses that this boat was larger: perhaps 25’ (How many meters is that??? Hum.)
We follow the rail, or at least the top plank where the rail should have been for about 15’ and then it goes deeper into the muck than I can reach. We grope about a bit longer and decide that’s enough. We’ve been down only 36 minutes, but it could have been an hour. Time is different in the dark. I don’t know why it just is. And, I’m still glad the old boot wasn’t full of old foot.