1st UPDATE: Relic anchor brought up for air after 222 years — now question begs: Was it Capt. Vancouver's?
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Crew with Anchor Ventures LLC, the group hoping to recover the anchor from the Capt. George Vancouver expedition ship HMS Chatham that was lost more than two centuries ago, conduct recovery work off Whidbey Island north of Port Townsend on Monday. —Photo by Justin Burnett/South Whidbey Record

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

A salvage crew hoisted a 900-pound antique anchor from the bottom of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was headed for Port Townsend.

The raising of the anchor, believed to be from one of two tall ships British Capt. George Vancouver used to explore the Salish Sea and elsewhere in the present-day Northwest and British Columbia, meant that it was above the surface of the water for the first time in more than two centuries.

More details to come.

Earlier report:

PORT TOWNSEND –– After 222 years underwater, a historic anchor believed to have snapped free from the ship that accompanied Capt. George Vancouver's late-18th Century Discovery expedition wanted more time.

Anchor Ventures LLC set out Monday with a crew expecting to retrieve an anchor lodged in the floor of Admiralty Inlet off Whidbey Island that they believe broke free from the HMS Chatham, companion to Vancouver's HMS Discovery.

Scott Grimm, a medical equipment salesman and amateur historian and half of Anchor Ventures, said Monday morning they expected to bring the anchor back in to the Port of Port Townsend by 2 p.m.

But difficulties pulling the anchor up pushed them back.

“We ran into a couple snags out here. We had to give the divers a bit of a break, there's only so long they can be under water,” Grimm said.

Crews were still working to bring up the anchor at the start of Monday evening.

Grimm started Anchor Ventures LLC with Doug Monk, a Port Angeles diver and fisherman who first spotted the anchor while diving for sea cucumbers off Whidbey Island in 2008.

They were diving Monday off Whidbey Island's Ledgewood Beach, southwest of the Keystone ferry terminal, in pursuit of the anchor they believe to be the one log books say broke free from the HMS Chatham in 1792.

They had withheld the location of the anchor until Monday out of fears it would be poached before they could get to it.

The duo's expedition left Port Townsend Bay shortly after 9 a.m.

They enlisted the help of a barge with a crane mounted on it.

Divers began going after the anchor around noon.

A specially built cradle was made to protect the anchor during the recovery and barge trip back to Port Townsend.

Along with the barge, the expedition consisted of a dive boat with a team of divers and two other large boats carrying media and documentary filmmakers.

Once brought ashore, the anchor will be stored at the Northwest Maritime Center where it will stay for the next few weeks before being shipped off for analysis and preservation work by researchers at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Maritime Center executive director Jake Beattie said the anchor will be displayed on the ground floor of the Chandler Maritime Education Building while it is in Port Townsend.

Grimm and Monk hope the Texas A&M analysis will resolve a dispute with conventional wisdom held by most Pacific Northwest maritime historians that the anchor ended up in Bellingham Channel after snapping free from the Chatham.

The anchor has been sought by maritime and history experts who have made multiple attempts to locate it in Bellingham Channel over the past 70 years.

It was reported lost in the log books and journals kept by the crew of the Chatham.

Both the Chatham and the Discovery spent four years exploring the North American west coast beginning in 1791.


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Justin Burnett, editor of the South Whidbey Record, a sister newspaper of the Peninsula Daily News, contributed to this report.

Last modified: June 09. 2014 7:00PM
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