When looking for shipwrecks all searches have to start somewhere.Â This one started with 2 day trip to Chumporn, talking to fishermen, drinking Lancauw (strong Thai whisky) and swapping marks.Â After the excesses of that trip I settled down to planning, looking at tides, weather forecasts, plotting courses to steer then gas costs and reserves needed to be calculated.Â After that, a team was put together and sharing the costs, we headed off.
At 0700, with a 3 hour trip ahead of us, the sea conditions were perfect, beautiful, flat and calm.Â The first mark we came to was a shallow one.Â On the chart it appeared to be in 30metres but when we arrived the sonar registered 28m.Â We began running a search pattern and after half an hour decided to call it a day and move on to the next mark.
When I first began looking for wrecks sonar’s were not as accurate and diving into the sand was a common event.Â Now, with the new sophisticated sonar’s that will only happen if you judge the tides incorrectly and put out the shot badly.Â It was an hour to our next mark, one we’d been given from the same fisherman, not a good sign!Â When we arrived we began running the search and after half an hour drew a blank.Â I decided to increase the size of the search area and bingo!Â We picked up a good sized return on the sonar.Â We put the shot in and quickly got into our equipment, eager to get in the water.Â We descended down the shot-line, not knowing what we might find.Â At 30metres we hit the thermo-cline and then hit the bottom at 39m.Â Here the visibility went from 25 to 3metres.Â We ran a distance line from the shot and soon started swimming over a field of debris, mainly wood.Â Soon after, we noticed some metal beams and realised this was the remains of the support structure of the ship.Â There were a lot of nets draped over it and the layout appeard to be quite substantial for a wooden vessel around 40m long.
With lots of wooden cargo vessels having been lost plying their trade in this area over the last 30 years we believe her to be one of these.Â Wood deteriorates quickly in these waters but there are always non-perishable cargos to discover which can help us identify the ship more accurately.
After the success of the second mark this re-raises our expectations of the first, the fishermen often anchor into wrecks and mark the position of the surface boat as she swings on her anchor.Â This means a larger search pattern is often needed to confirm or eliminate a mark.
We will return in the future but with so many other interesting marks to investigate it could be some time.