Vancouver's or not, old anchor becomes instant attraction in Port Townsend — and it's kept wet
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
First-day crowds at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend examine the anchor in its specially constructed display case.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Brion Toss, left, and Scott Grimm inspect the anchor, which was returned to the water overnight for preservation purposes.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
An anchor believed by amateur historians and local divers is pulled from the water at the Port of Port Townsend Boat Haven this afternoon.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
The unique design of the wrought iron chain attached the anchor was not patented until 1813, which led many experts to believe this anchor could not have come from Capt. Vancouver's 1792 expedition. Scott Grimm, though, found that the cross-link chain design was used well before it was patented by an English patent court.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Youngsters William Marston, left, and Joseph Veitenhans of Port Townsend inspect the anchor after it is pulled up from Port Townsend Bay.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
A fluke from the historic anchor was damaged as recovery divers Monday had to free it from the sea floor to which it had fused.
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Justin Burnett/South Whidbey Record
The anchor brought up Monday after 222 years.
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Justin Burnett/South Whidbey Record
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 morning. They later hoisted the 900-pound relic.
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Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via The Associated Press
Work crews pull up anchor from Admiralty Inlet near Whidbey Island, background, on Monday evening.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND –– An anchor found six years ago by Port Angeles diver Doug Monk is being held in water at the Northwest Maritime Center as it awaits a trip to Texas to see whether it was from one of the earliest ships to sail in the Pacific Northwest.

“Now we just have to prove we're right,” said Scott Grimm, who is half of Anchor Ventures LLC.

Grimm and Monk led an expedition Monday to retrieve the anchor from Admiralty Inlet off the coast of Whidbey Island.

They brought it back Monday night and anchored it overnight off a pier at the Port of Port Townsend's Boat Haven.

It was pulled up Tuesday afternoon and taken to the maritime center at 431 Water St., where it will be displayed for the next few weeks in a wood and fiberglass crate made by port workers.

“It's important to keep it underwater as much as we can,” Grimm said. “The more air gets to it, the more the chances that something might happen to it.”

Eventually, the anchor will be moved to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where Monk and Grimm hope researchers will be able to prove the anchor's age and settle a longstanding historical dispute.

Monk and Grimm believe the anchor is the one that logs from Capt. George Vancouver's HMS Discovery expedition say broke free in the early morning hours of June 6, 1792.

Experts have believed for decades that the anchor that broke off the HMS Chatham, companion to the Discovery, ended up in Bellingham Channel.

But Grimm believes the anchor found by Monk after he snagged his air hose on it while diving for sea cucumbers in 2008 between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island is the Chatham's.

He will present their case of this being Vancouver's anchor at the maritime center at 6 p.m. Friday, June 20.

The two had expected to have it in Port Townsend by Monday afternoon, but one of the anchor's flukes had fused to the floor of the sea, making retrieval more difficult than anticipated.

“It was not a fun day yesterday,” diver Kenny Woodside said Tuesday.

“It was attached pretty good down there.”

After freeing it from the floor, the dive team off Monk's ship Bet-Sea attached a T-shaped cradle to a crane mounted on a Stillwater Construction barge that was called off a job in Port Hadlock for Monday's recovery.

Grimm said the current on the surface of the recovery site 900 yards offshore was 4.5 knots Monday, which further complicated efforts.

“We were moving around pretty good out there,” he said, “which is the same reason the anchor ended up there.”

Grimm noted that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told him the currents were moving west off Whidbey Island at more than 5.5 knots on the day in 1792 when the anchor broke off the Chatham.

Grimm said NOAA reported tidal speeds of less than three-quarters of a knot in Bellingham Channel that day.

The anchor was reported lost in the Chatham's log books and journals, which also note running into trouble caused by strong, shifting tidal currents.

The log books also, Grimm said, report that Vancouver would not let the Chatham's crew paint because they lost the anchor.

“He was pissed about this,” Grimm said.

Both the Chatham and the Discovery explored the North American west coast for four years beginning in 1791.

Tuesday's lunchtime maneuver brought about 50 people to a dock at the Boat Haven at 2601 Washington St. to watch the antique anchor come out of the water.

Port Townsend crane operator Julian Arthur lifted the anchor out of the bay with his crane onto the dock, where the steel support was removed.

Arthur then lifted the anchor onto the flatbed portion of his crane truck and took it through downtown to the maritime center, where dozens more inspected the ancient anchor.

But not all were convinced it was Vancouver's.

“I still think it's off an old Bayliner,” Port of Port Townsend Director Larry Crockett said with a smile.

________

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

Last modified: June 10. 2014 6:29PM
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