Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Holidays

At Cinnamon Bay, a tall ship sailing through Drake's Channel.

Season's Greetings. Ken, Kourtney, Katie, Amber and Susanna all wish everyone a very happy holiday and New Year. Ken was on the mainland for a week to attend the graduation of his daughter Lauren, who is receiving a bachelor of Environmental Science from Florida State University. We all want to congratulate Lauren on her accomplishment and wish here well in her future endeaevors. While Ken was away, some of the behind the scenes details were given our attention, such as environmental monitoring of the collection building, continuing research of the the human remains from Cinnamon Bay, conservation of the recently submerged artifacts and vegetation clearing. And Kourtney and Susanna had the pleasure of teaching 35 seventh graders about archeology and curation at the Cinnamon Bay Lab and future museum. Everyone had a great time and some important lessons were passed on, such as context, provenience, stratigraphy and the role of Hassel Island in the bid to purchase these islands from the Danes. In addition to learning about a real excavation from Kourtney, the students helped to wash several field sites Field Specimen ie(FS#'s) from the surveying at Careening Cove. Among the artifacts that were cleaned was a wide assortment of bottlenecks and glass bases. Although the kids were a big help and we enjoyed the group very much, we realized that we have a lot of work ahead of us in the cataloging of all the objects. In addition, we will need help from additional interns, so please continue to donate to the Friends in 2008, and thank you to all who donated in the past.
Students helping out with washing artifacts.

Seventh Graders from Sprauve School, Cruz Bay, St. John.

Hopefully, we can have Amber write the next posting about all her work in the lab with the conservation of the submerged metal. Stay tuned for some spectacular chemistry folks. Kourtney's work is also fascinating so when we all return from the Holidays be sure to check out the blog for updates.

This week, we recruited a new member to our team, NPS Wildlife Biologist Carrie Stengel. Carrie was instrumental in instructing the team on the proper use of herbicides that will curtail the growth of exotic and invasive species at the Creque Marine Railway. We really don't want to see this stucture covered in catch and keep for a very long time so it will take maintenance to keep the site open. Stay tuned for opportunities to help in the revitalization of the Creque Marine Slipway and other sites on Hassel Island.
View out of the winch house, Creque Marine.

Also on Hassel Island, the old iron wreck in Charlotte Amalie mentioned in the previous post is simply no match for Rocky, Toby and Chris from Seatow. Although the work is slow and dangerous, the Seatow crew is taking apart the ship piece by piece. (Unconfirmed sources report that this ship was commissioned by an infamous German leader during WWII.) The difference to the island from the beginning of November to now is truly remarkable, and thank you again to everyone that is helping to keep Hassel Island safe and secure for future generations.

Seatow's crewman Chris working on the awesome wreck.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Maintenance is Preservation

Operation Clean Sweep 2007 was a thorough success and a good start. With well over 200 people participating, the beaches of Hassel Island were swarming with volunteers picking up trash. The crew got an early start to catch the 6am barge in order to be in Crown Bay for the organizational meeting. Our mission was to educate on the island's history, make sure nothing important was put in the trash and coordination. Following the briefing, we then boarded a vessel provided by Coral World, that took the groups to Creque Marine and Careening Cove. The weather was bright yet blustery so the vessel had a hard time docking at Careening Cove. Thankfully, Seatow was on hand to ferry the kids boat by boat to the cleanup site. The groups of school kids were fantastic and did a great job; it was really a site to see years of trash finally coming off the shores. “Hassel Island Clean Sweep” was launched in cooperation with Virgin Islands National Park Service, the St. Thomas Historical Trust, the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, Essence Properties, Inc., Sea Tow Virgin Islands, and other entities in the Virgin Islands Government.

Disembarking at Creque Marine.
Seatow's Captain Alan Wentworth ferrying the groups over to the beaches.
Happy ROTC students with Honorable Delegate Donna Christenson

...and some of the kids that made it happen

After running out of trash bags, it was time for lunch. Again, all the students were ferried back to Mr. Sharaf's property on Hassel Island for a celebratory BBQ. Everyone then got T-shirts that read "Maintenance is Preservation." It was a great day and thanks to everyone for all the work. Now that the initial clean up is done, we hope to get a chance to map/gps the historic hardware around the Slipway and to document the many objects that were hidden from view.

Elvis, Kourtney, Ken Katie, Susanna