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Guest Contributors...             Edwin R. Scollon

Diving Lake Champlain...
The Valcour Bay Research Project-X

Recovery Preparations
Phase 1
June 20-23, 2001

Divers Dennis O'Neil and Greg Durocher prepare cannon lift harness.
Divers Dennis O'Neil and Greg Durocher prepare cannon lift harness.

        In partnership with...


With the boat anchored above the cannon site, Greg Durocher & Dennis OíNeil went to work below.  Roger Harwood moved back and forth, from the work on the surface to assist with work at depth.  As expected, their visibility was drastically reduced as they worked around the gun.  The first line was tightened at the cannon's muzzle and it was slowly winched out of the silt for the first time in nearly 225 years.

Once the sediment finally released its grip, the team attached a second line to the broken end of the gun.  The gun had been well protected in its deep cover of silt and clay; it was in excellent condition and the team discovered the broken end still had a dangerously sharp edge.  The second line was tightened until the gun was brought into a horizontal position.  The team then positioned its pallet and gently lowered it into place.

Dennis and Greg are recent arrivals to the VBRP team.  Iíve been told they share many years of shared experiences, from working together on cars and boats to learning how to scuba dive.  They appeared to enjoy the challenge of this difficult phase of the recovery as much as I enjoyed filming their work.  It was amazing to watch them communicate underwater with ease, by reading each otherís eyes or simple movements of their hands.  Rogerís experience, advice and assistance were also a definite plus.  Any of the three is a diverís diver.  

 Click on the thumbnails below to see full-size images of the preparations.  

All underwater photos by Ed Scollon
© Valcour Bay Research Project and The Lake Champlain and Lake George Historical Site

 IMPORTANT NOTE: Artifacts on the bottom of the lake are the property of the People of the States of New York and/or Vermont by law. It is illegal to remove or damage them under State Law(s) without the appropriate clearances and permits. Removing them and transferring them across state lines violates Federal law & makes one liable to Federal prosecution.

Greg Durocher and Dennis O'Neil prepare the line that will lift the muzzle of the cannon from deep within the layer of silt.

Dennis and Greg prepare lift harness for connection to winchline.

Dennis waiting for Greg to attach the liftline to the cannon.

Dennis O'Neil in the silt of Valcour Bay

Greg Durocher rising from the silt above the cannon.

A mushroom cloud of silt rises from the bottom when disturbed.

Greg Durocher brushes silt off his suit.

Dennis O'Neil rising from the silt above the cannon.

Dennis O'Neil begins winching the cannon out of the silt on the lake bottom.

First vertical movement of the cannon in nearly 225 years!

Dennis inspects the cannon as it rises from the bottom.

Dennis rubs the silt from the barrel, the gun is in excellent condition.

Closeup of the muzzle of the cannon.

The business end of the cannon. The bore is packed with clay.

Dennis moves a pallet platform under the cannon

The platform will keep the cannon above the silt.

Greg Durocher prepares a second line to move the gun into a horizontal position.

Dennis O'Neil steadies the cannon for further winching.

Winching the second line- the cannon is now horizontal.

Greg Durocher rises from the bottom after postioning the cannon on the pallet.

Greg looks up from the bottom and gives Roger the OK.

The gun is lowered to the pallet.

The gun is in position as Roger Harwood lowers the winch.

Roger Harwood releases the winch and lowers the cannon onto its new resting place.


Continued here: Recovery Operations-(Underwater) Phase 2

Back to the VBRP HOME PAGE

Other links about Valcour Island and the Battle of Valcour within
The Lake Champlain and Lake George Historical Site

The Battle of Lake Champlain:
The American Revolution on Lake Champlain

View a copy of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Official Cannon Raising Commemoration Program- Click HERE.

Also of interest: LCMM's Valcour Island Battlefield Preservation

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