History

The 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition hits the water

The search team launches its side-scan sonar near the waters where last year’s hunt ended
  • Aug 19, 2014
  • 327 words
  • 2 minutes
Photo courtesy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Expand Image

The search has begun. While the Parks Canada-led team hunting for the Erebus and Terror met typical Arctic travel hurdles en route to their first search area in Queen Maud Gulf — weather and the complicated (read: slow as molasses) logistics that accompany movement in this giant archipelago — they have now picked up where they left off last year. Their sonar splashed into the water on the evening of August 19. In the coming days, they’ll survey for Sir John Franklin’s lost ships around the clock.

Shunning an offer of a telescoping aluminum boat hook from Navy diver Yves Bernard, Parks Canada archaeologists Ryan Harris and Jonathan Moore guided their sophisticated side-scan sonar equipment off the ship’s stern using just the bristles of a broom more often put to use sweeping the aft deck of their research vessel Martin Bergmann.

“If we find these ships, this broom ought to go into the Canadian Museum of History,” says Moore. “It lets us guide the sonar unit into the water more smoothly than any other piece of equipment we’ve had.”

Bernard, a first class petty officer who will be swapping four-hour shifts with Harris and Moore as sonar operator in the coming days, flashes a toothy grin through his beard, elated that the real work had begun.

“Last year was my first time searching for the Franklin wrecks,” says Bernard. “I didn’t realize exactly how lucky we got in terms of weather and water conditions. It was smooth almost the whole time we were up here. The skies were mostly clear and the winds low.”

This year, of course, the crew wasn’t as lucky. “It took a little longer for everything to get going, but we still have lots of time to work with,” comments Bernard. “It would be the most amazing feeling to find the ships, and having to put in a little extra time and effort would only make that feeling better.”

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