Claim: Anchor from Vancouver voyage found

HMS Discovery

More than six years after stumbling across a giant 9-foot barnacle-encrusted anchor in the muck of Puget Sound, Port Angeles, Wash., resident Doug Monk may shortly get confirmation whether his find is indeed one of the long-sought relics of European exploration in the Pacific Northwest.

Monk believes the anchor uncovered while diving for sea cucumbers in January 2008 belonged to a ship that accompanied Capt. George Vancouver’s famed exploration of Puget Sound in 1792.

Since his find, Monk and several others have sought to convince historians, scouring books and explorers’ journals, unearthing centuries-old patents and British court documents and even asking the government weather experts to recreate 18th-century currents, according to the Seattle Times.

Monk and his team will excavate the anchor – which they believe belonged to the HMS Chatham, an 80-foot survey brig that accompanied Vancouver’s ship, the HMS Discovery – this spring.

They hope to have it tested by experts at Texas A&M University, according to the publication.

Though the anchor’s monetary value is undetermined, its exact location is being withheld to prevent looting, according to the Whidbey News-Times. The find was officially recorded with the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in 2009.

Vancouver’s exploration of Puget Sound was but a small but important part of a 4-1/2 year voyage which took him and his crew around the globe between 1791 and 1795.

Among his achievements, Vancouver (1757-1798) is deemed to have been the first European to prove that Vancouver Island was indeed an island, rather part of the mainland of what would become Canada.

Many of the Pacific Northwest’s notable names were affixed by Vancouver, including: Whidbey (Island), Puget (Sound), (Mount) Rainier, (Mount) Hood and (Mount) Baker.

The size, shape and style of the anchor Monk found in 2008 suggest that it’s at least 200 years old. And no fewer than half-a-dozen members of Vancouver’s voyage described the loss of the Chatham’s anchor in logbooks and journals.

But inconsistencies in records have made it difficult to ferret out precisely where the Chatham was at the time the anchor was lost, according to the Times.

Most historians have long presumed the anchor was probably lost in Bellingham Channel off Cypress Island. Monk’s discovery, however, was made nearly 30 miles away, on the northwest side of Whidbey Island.

Still, after years of investigation and efforts to convince skeptics, Monk and his team appear to be making progress.

“I’ve looked at their images and their analysis, and they make a very compelling case,” said James Delgado, who oversees maritime history for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and led archaeological mapping of the Titanic wreck site. “If it does turn out to be from that voyage, it’s a very significant find.”

(Top: HMS Discovery, front, and HMS Chatham, along coast of Pacific Northwest during Vancouver Expedition.)

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