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New Area, New Clues!

The month of March is usually one of the worst months of the year for sea conditions in the Florida Keys. However, with a few days of calm winds in the forecast, Captain Dan Porter seized the opportunity to get the vessel Sea Reaper out to the Margarita site. The MRR team is grateful for the opportunity to work on the Margarita and proud to be a contracted part of the famed team of professionals at Motivation, Inc., the permit holders and operators of the Santa Margarita site.

With such a short weather window, the Sea Reaper team decided to try a new area that has had little known work in the past, to the East of the known scatter of shipwreck-related material. On the first day, MRR divers recovered a variety of material from this area, including carpenters tools, lead musket balls, ship spikes and olive jar sherds. Divers continued to recover material from the same area on the second day of work, and during the most easterly excavation, Josh Fisher recovered a large three-legged iron pot, about 1 ft. in diameter and 1 ft. tall. The pot was heavily encrusted but intact, and a very impressive find.

Missy and Josh with the first of two iron cauldrons recovered on MRR's most recent trip.

On the third day of excavations, the Sea Reaper moved 2,400 ft. to the North and worked in an area nearly 500 ft. East of the main area of known shipwreck scatter. A small iron key, as well as an encrusted sword handle, were recovered by diver Rob Hill.

These are all big clues to what Capt. Dan Porter considers a very under-worked area of the Margarita site. Porter recalls his thoughts as the recoveries continued to surface on the Eastern side of the known scatter, stating, “the question I kept asking myself is how does this material tie in to the known site facts? What is the line of scatter that attached this material to the rest of the wreck scatter?” Sometimes historic shipwreck salvors work lifetimes trying to answer questions like these. For Capt. Porter, significant answers to these new questions were discovered on the same trip.

As the third day of work progressed, Levin Shavers came to the surface asking for the camera. It is standard practice for divers to video or photograph important artifacts in-situ to document the find and conditions. Capt. Porter could not believe what Levin said he had found. A few moments later, the object broke the surface—another three-legged iron pot, identical to the one found the day before nearly half a mile to the South.

Rob, Levin and Capt. Porter with the second cauldron recovered.

The distance between the two iron pots is significant. While assessing the relation of the two matching pots, a line drawn on MRR’s AutoCAD chart to connect the locations of the two recoveries falls at 11°, which is precisely the same degree line as the scatter of the main cultural deposit of the Santa Margarita. The new line of wreck material runs parallel, only this line is to the East in a largely unexplored area.

Rob and Levin with a sword hilt.

Two iron cauldrons and a sword hilt recently recovered from the Santa Margarita.

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