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Guest Contributors...           Edwin R. Scollon

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

Recovery Preparations

Project divers Greg Durocher, Ed Scollon, Dennis O'Neil and Roger Harwood discuss recovery preparations.
Project divers Greg Durocher, Ed Scollon, Dennis O'Neil and Roger
Harwood discuss recovery preparations. Photo by Jim Millard.

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In the days prior to the June 30th artifact recovery, the biggest challenge for the VBRP members was preparing the cannon’s muzzle for its lift to the water’s surface.  It still lay beneath a deep layer of silt and clay.  In order to effectively prepare the muzzle for its final ascent, the muzzle had to be brought above the sediment and securely rigged.

VBRP members discussed their options for several days before agreeing on what they believed would be the safest course of action.  A rope harness would be attached to the cannon below.  A series of straps and hand-winches would run between the harness and a boat on the surface.  The team would use the buoyancy of the boat and the power of the winches to pull the cannon above the bay’s floor.  A wooden pallet could then be placed underneath and the cannon gently lowered to it.  The pallet would prevent the cannon from sinking back into the silt and allow the divers to prepare it for the final stage of its recovery.

Several conditions would complicate this first phase of the cannon’s recovery.  Once the silt was disturbed, a heavy silt cloud would develop and the divers visibility would be reduced to near zero.  As the team started to pull the gun from the sediment, the winches would have to overcome the weight of the gun (several hundred pounds) and the suction created by its removal.  Once the gun was free of the sediment, the team would also have to maintain full control of the boat above.  Above all else, the team would have to ensure the safety of each and every member as it worked.

The team would have to be separated into two groups, one at the surface and one at depth.

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

Photos by Jim Millard
©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, Ed Scollon, Dennis O'Neil and Roger Harwood discuss preparations for recovering the artifacts.

Some of the items used to prepare for the raising, seen are a weighted pallet, winches, and sturdy straps.

Project leader Ed Scollon checks his equipment.

Dennis O'Neil looks on as Ed Scollon prepares to dive.

Preparing to dive.

One of the boats preparing to release project divers.

Roger Harwood (small boat) tosses a line to another one of the project boats.

Project divers in the waters of Valcour Bay.

Dennis O'Neil in the water.

Ed Scollon with his underwater video camera.

Ed Scollon snaps a photo of Jim Millard recording the action.

Project leader and cannon discoverer Ed Scollon.

Divers Ed Scollon and Roger Harwood.

Ed Scollon surfaces.

Going in...

Another project diver goes into the waters of Valcour Bay.

Roger Harwood.

Roger Harwood suiting up.

Roger Harwood and Ed Scollon discuss tactics at the surface.

Ed Scollon brings up one of the archeological permit signs from the bottom of the bay.

Continued here:
Recovery Preparations- Underwater

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

Download a copy of The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Official VBRP Cannon Raising Commemoration Program- Click HERE.

Also of interest: LCMM's Valcour Island Battlefield Preservation

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