|The fishermen tried to get the net free. The boat was taken back so that
she was almost above the obstruction, and, with some slack in the net, they
hauled in one of the warps and tried to lift one of the otter boards free.
Having failed at that they decided to try to pull the obstruction away using
the power of the boats engines. The warps were tied around the boat's samson
posts, and the engine was put in forward gear, the throttle was opened full.
The boat surged forward and the net came away suddenly, rather like a tooth
being pulled, and was hauled in. Its head rope was torn off, the ground
chain was broken and the net itself had been pulled to pieces. Entangled
in the mesh of the net was the cause of all the trouble - a piece of wood,
which had obviously broken off from something very solid under the water
|It was time to end the day's fishing. They took the bearings of the obstruction
so that they could avoid it for the future and set course for home. Melvin
Gofton had had a bad day - he had caught nothing and managed only to sustaine
£150 pounds worth of damage to his net.
|Arthur Mack took the timber home with him. He had left school at 14, and
by his own account his education was 'in the mud of Portsmouth Hard', but
he had always kept up an interest in maritime history and the piece of wood
intrigued him. It had some iron fastenings, but it also contained wooden
pegs known as a treenails. He knew this meant that it was old and its size
suggested that it came from quite a large vessel. He put it under his dinghy
on the shore, but he became obsessed with the idea that he had found something
of great age and importance.
|Two days later, on 7th May, he returned to the site in his own 17ft boat
Wishbone, aptly named for a fisherman who relies mainly on his good luck.
Instead of using a net, he put a chain between his otter boards and towed
it over the area where two days earlier he had taken a fix on the obstruction.
He found nothing. He tried again over the next few days, whenever he could
spare time from his fishing, and final located the obstruction again on
the 15th. He marked the obstruction with amarker bouy attached to a small
boat anchor. In the meantime he had shown the piece of timber to several
divers he knew, but none had shown any interest until he spoke to an old
friend and amateur diver, John Broomhead who had often helped him to clear
his nets from obstructions, and to Jim Boyle, the owner of a local diving
shop. Arthur, John & Jim went out to the area the next day in Wishbone,
but once again they could not locate the wreck because the marker that Arthur
had left was not there!
|Arthur Mack would still not give up. On 28th May he found the wreck again
and this time he was determined not to lose it. He left his chain tangled
around the obstruction and attached a buoy to the warps. For good measure
he dropped another spare anchor on the site to help hold the buoy in place.
John Broomhead and Jim Boyle came back in the evening, freed the gear from
the timbers below and took accurate bearings so that they could find it
again. On 1st June John Broomhead and another diver, Steve Courtney, went
down to find the extent of the wreck. On board Wishbone, Arthur Mack was
amazed to follow the divers' bubbles as they covered an area approximately
200ft long, following the line of visible timbers. Below, the divers' visibility
was poor, but they saw enough to establish the importance of the site: 'Lots
of old wooden beams found to be protruding from the sand at various angles,
also very large planks held together by wooden pegs.' The first artefacts,
apart from the original piece of timber, were brought up - part of a leather
shoe, part of a steel shaft, and 'some old wood with some wooden pegs through
it'. John Broomhead knew that this was the beginning of something extraordinary
and for the first time in his life he began to keep an accurate log and
diary, recording the events surrounding the wreck.
|Over the next few weeks the site was worked as much as possible on a strictly
part-time basis. Arthur Mack found time from his fishing to take John Broomhead
out after he had finished his day's work as a field service engineer for
|What had started off as a seemingly uneventful, annoying incident was
about to dramatically change the lives of those involved forever.