The Maritime Mysteries Explorers are back in action and heading to Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia in Borneo. They will be returning to their vessel, the Southern Sun and will be soon heading off for new expeditions in the South China Sea. You can keep abreast of their exploits by checking this blog, Facebook page, Twitter and Google + page.
The other really good excuse to go to Europe was to visit "Dirk Eelen" our official Archaeologist. He is a very well known artist was having an Art Exhibition at the time that I was visiting the Netherlands so I "had" to pop down to see that!
Arriving after a great train trip I was well received by Dirk and his children. Dirk has dived the wreck of the "Viscount Melbourne" many times in Borneo but lives in Luven a very beautiful city in Belguim. He plans to rejoin us for another stint of salvage early next year. In the mean time he has a collection of art that if you know good art you will want one of his on your walls!!! www.dirkeelen.com
The Loss of the "Viscount Melbourne" an English Cargo Ship shipwrecked in the South China Sea in 1842:
As promised, the reason why I have come to the Netherlands is to learn how to treat the artifacts that we are retrieving from the bottom the sea! We found it while looking for an Ice Age Civilization that we believe existed some 12,000 years ago. She is a wooden ship 150ft long and 45 ft wide with brass sheathing.
An Artist Impression of the "Viscount Melbourne"
The vessel left from Singapore after picking up Mrs Dare, a 22 year old woman with a 2 month old baby at the breast and a 2 yr old son who were going to join her husband Capt Dare. Leaving England together on his ship she had conceived along the way so was left along with her young George in Mrs. Clarke's boarding house in Singapore where she gave birth to her son Julius. Meanwhile her husband had continued on to Macau. With Julius now being old enough to travel they joined the ill fated "Viscount Melbourne".
We have since discovered that Julius went on to establish Rugby in Japan and George returned to live in Singapore with his wife being the first woman to drive a car in there.
We first discovered this wreck by reading The Dairies of the White Raj - Rajah Brook's followed by a Google search which led to the "Silver Bowl http://www.thesilverbowl.com/misc/pirates_dare.htm
(These have been updated since I first found them )
Then onto the Singapore National Library for 5 days of further research where we discovered the "full account" which I will reveal at a later date.
This is how she looks now - a first hand view 40 meters deep
One of the Anchors
Take not of the large "Nail" in the center of the deck
Who knew that these vessels of the 1900's had such luxury foods?
Preserved yellow cherries !!!!
Beer or Madeira Wine - to be confirmed
Crude applied lip, these are a three mold hand blown glass bottle with corksThe contents of one of the bottle that popped it cork
The contents were not consumable
We are working in collaboration with a friend and businessman in Miri who's vision has been to establish a Maritime Museum in Miri - Sarawak. Our aim to to help achieve this with the artifacts being donated to this Museum.
Posted 17th September 2012 by Southern Sun
Unexpected Surpirses:Just before heading down to Luven by train, I received out of the blue a totally unexpected call from a producer in KL Malaysia. After a 4 hour Skype session with her it was determined that the "story" of the Shipwrecked Viscount Melbourne was worthy of a full documentary and a submission would be handed in. If successful filming would commence next year! Joke decided that I needed some fresh air and so an evening of R&R unfolded with drinks at a near by watering hole "The Stinky" and then diner with the "young ones" Jokes's 16yr old daughter and friends. It was a lovely way to say goodbye to Haarlem.
Then the train ride upgraded to First Class by the very charming conductor!
Posted 17th September 2012 by Southern Sun
If you have an open mind life's wonderful surprises can enter and enrich your experiences:Well mine must be open right now cause I am on a roll!
The airport stop over was filled with interesting and quirky meetings. Matt the English Dive Instructor going home from Thailand filled nearly 4 hours of my time in a Japanese Restaurant with humor and wild tales of horror dives, Lilly the beautiful young English girl returning from NZ visiting her father who was producing and Opera, and before I knew it it was time to join my plane along with all the other passengers, not a spare seat to be found! Despite the fullness of the plane and the turbulence I had a enough sleep to fill refreshed for the start of my adventure in Amsterdam.
On my arrival I was whisked away by Joke to her work place http://www.cultureelerfgoed.nl/en/collections/national-maritime-archaeology-repository
The best way to describe the way I am feeling to to simply say "Call me Alice" ( Alice in wonderland!)
This is the view from Joke's Office, note the tall ship the "Batavia" Replica in the back ground!
Today I took tour of the area in which the Netherlands Government look after the artifacts from their historic wooden shipwrecks. There is a team of around 17 of which I met quite a few and discussed with them their expertise. It was kept a short introduction due to the long flight I had just taken. We will return to do two days of serious restoration work.
An Ancient ROMAN RIVER BOAT that is being preserved before restoration
Keeping the OLD TIMBER under raps literally
until it can be treated in the tank with sprinklers over head to keep it wet
CAST IRON CANNONS waiting to be treated
they will be heated to 800 degrees to force the salt out of them
This is a very important step in my journey. We have taken on the responsibility of the artifacts from the Viscount Melbourne, it is very important that what we take from the sea we can treat accordingly so that is preserved for others to enjoy. So much history is locked away in these ships. I hidden time capsule on the bottom of the sea
Posted 5th September 2012 by Southern Sun
On my way to learn how to preserve Historical Wooden Ships and their Artifacts:We, the Captain and I have found an English Cargo Ship at the bottom of the sea off Borneo. It was on its way from Singapore to Macao when it was blown off course, then becalmed, then ran onto the reef in the middle of the South China Sea on the 8th January 1842. She was carrying a cargo of Saltpeter, Rice & Cotton and had two passengers on board, a 22 year old woman Mrs Dare with her two children a 2 month old and 2 year old .........and a Colonel Campbell who was being re-stationed from Madras to Macau a total of 72 persons on board. We know this because the 16 year old apprentice on board at the time kept a log and that log was published in the Singapore Times one hundred years after the event and after 4 days of research in the Singapore National Library we came across this article on microfilm.( I have since found out that the two month old Julius Dare went on to establish Rugby in Japan)
It is a remarkable story and one that will share with you at a later date ............... watch this space :-)
I am now on my way to the Netherlands to learn as much as I can from the "experts" about historical wooden ships and their artifacts. I have been looking after the artifacts form the Viscount Melbourne ( I am also salvaging them) and by a "chance meeting in Miri I met an Archaeologist who happened to be in Miri for ONE NIGHT!!! As Joke waited for her beautiful 16year old daughter to have her nails painted I was having coffee at the shop near by. We acknowledged each other, then I asked her to join me, which she did. It took forever for those nails to be pained and so we girls managed to find out about each others life stories, and I was totally blown away that I should meet he on her on her one and only night Miri
Myself & Joke on our chance meeting in Miri
Believing as I do that there are no coincidences I understood that I had to whisk her off to "my" artifact room as I craved to have an "expert" guide me, and I also needed to know that I had preserved them correctly......oh by the way, our intention is to have these artifacts go into a museum, they are NOT for our own personal gain.......... So now here I am on my way to visit this very interesting woman, her co- workers and her family
Posted 5th September 2012 by Southern Sun
As a result of the climate change we are experiencing, the sea levels are rising putting some coastal areas and a number of island communities under threat. The last time there was a significant rise in sea levels was at the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago. During the ice age, the lower levels of the South China and Java Seas exposed large areas of the Sunda Self incorporating the islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Java into the Southeast Asian peninsula.
Since this is a time before recorded history, there is much speculation as to how advance mankind was at this stage of development. The possibility of some lost civilization having developed in this region is what motivated Australian couple, Hans and Roze Berekoven to sell their successful merino wool business to purchase a 19 meter ketch, Southern Sun, to explore the region for evidence of this ice-aged civilization southernsun.info/index.htm. However, this is not the source of their recent fame, operating out of Sarawak, Malaysia surveying the Laconia Shoals, they have spent much of their time searching for sunken World War II wreaks when they came upon the prize discovery of the region. Operating on information found in James Brooke's journal, they were able to uncover the location of a 170 year old vessel, the Viscount Melbourne. It was the story of the Viscount Melbourne that first peaked my interest and led to my contact with Eric Madeja at Treasure Images, http://www.treasure-images.com/index.html. We soon realized that the real story was actually the Berekoven's and their quest. As luck would have it, they were very interested in telling their story. In the coming weeks we will be filming them to put together a sizzle reel and trailer to generate interest in four-part series about the quest for lost civilisations and where the Berekoven's fit in with the other theories that abound on this subject. For me I find myself returning to the search for the Ancient Nagas that I started over 15 years ago. More to come.
Kota Kinabalu, Day 1
I have arrived in Kota Kinabalu and met up with Eric of Treasure Images. After a brief excursion of the local market and some breakfast, we spent most of the day organising the equipment and packing it up for the shoot in Miri and out on the water. On the way back to Eric's we stop at a friend of his, Gary, who is a bit of a fix-it guy, for a ratcheted arm for one of the Go-Pro's. The afternoon was spent charging batteries and checking out the equipment. We also had sometime to strategize and plan some of the shots we will need to get for this sizzle reel and trailer. I don't problems with the shots will we are in the marina but once we are out on the boat and sailing to the location is another story. Shooting on the boat can at times be problematic and getting clean audio is difficult but we have both been through this before and I am sure we will work it out. I am looking forward to finally meeting the Berekoven's and the start of this new adventure.
After a 2 hour flight delay, we were picked up a Miri Airport by Hans Berekoven, one of the subjects of our shoot. On our way out to the marina, Hans drove us by the house they were lobbying to get for the maritime museum that would house all the artefacts they were bring up from the Viscount Melbourne wreck. Once we arrive at the Southern Sun, the Berekoven's 19 meter Ketch we will be spending the next week on, we are introduced to the rest of the crew, Roze, Hans' wife, self-made archaeologist and resident expert on the Viscount Melbourne; Tristan, their son on holiday here to help out; and Phil, a fellow diver and marina resident. After a quick meeting, it was decided we would be leaving around 2 or 3 in the afternoon for the overnight trip out to the reef. The morning would be used to make arrangements for food and taking care of a few last minute items. We were also expecting a Skype call early morning with Frank Joseph Hoff. FJH is an author and researcher of ancient mysteries as well as editor-in-chief of Ancient American magazine. He has worked promoting the late Professor Arysio Santos book, Atlantis, the Lost Continent Finally Found, that claims that the legendary continent was based on the Sunda Self in Southeast Asia. The book was a major hit in Indonesia when it was translated intoBahasa Indonesia and was one of the reasons that they hosted an INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NATURE, PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE OF ANCIENT SUNDA CIVILISATION. The guest speakers at the conference included the Berekoven's, Frank Joseph Hoff and Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer, who wrote the book, Eden in the East, the Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia.
Just after breakfast, we had our Skype call from Frank Joseph Hoff, which we filmed although we were able to get a picture from Frank's end. Still we have the audio and the reactions from the wheel house of the Southern Sun. To add to the importance of this call, Frank was able to add Dr. Robin Harger to our conference call, who would agree to help Hans secure some needed contacts in the Indonesian government. Dr. Harger is a noted marine biologist and author, who spent 14 years with UNESCO in its Jakarta office before he retired as a director of the International Oceanographic Commission. He gave Hans a contact within the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, who will help him navigate through the usual bureaucracy. After finishing what had to get done before departing, we sailed out of the Miri marina just after 3 in the afternoon. As luck would have it, we ran right into a squall and pandemonium ensued with sail flapping, rain pounding down on the crew as they struggled to everything back under control with Eric and I filming all the action as it happened. This was an opportunity that was too good to pass up but I must confess, being a sailor that I did feel a bit guilty not helping out. We got through the storm but it was far from smooth sailing and it got later in the day it look like there was another one developing on the horizon. Captain Hans decided we would be better off returning to the marina and leaving tomorrow when things had settle down. The blackened skies continued to follow us back to Miri and when we were in sight of the shore night had fallen with no moon or stars to light the way into the channel. With the storm coming up fast behind us it was much to dangerous to try and make it into the marina channel so we headed up into the wind to ride out the storm in open water and wait until morning to enter the marina. Needless to say, we had a bit of a rough night.
When morning arrived, things had settled down and we made our way back into the marina. A few of the neighbours help us tie up back in the berth and we all settle down for some breakfast and to rearrange our plans. Since we needed to wait again until the afternoon before heading out again (this is so we arrive at the reef in the early morning), we decided it was a good opportunity to film Roze's interview in the artefacts room in the flat. From Roze we learned how they came to find the wreak of the Viscount Melbourne, a detail account from the assistant ship's navigator of what happen after the ship struck the reef and the work she is doing to preserve the artefacts that they have brought up from the ship. After the interview, Eric and I continued to film all the artefacts that were on display and met up with the rest of the crew back on the Southern Sun. Fortunately, our second departure out to the Luconia Shoals was without problems and we had a smooth sail through the night.
South China Sea, Luconia Shoals-Day 4
We arrive at the reef to over 2 dozen little fishing boat and their 'mother ship' off in the distance. These are apparently Chinese fishermen flying under a Malaysian flag to fish these reefs. They are not sure what we are about so they just go about their business like we were not even there. We get an anchor out and later will set up on a mooring that Hans arranged the last time they were out here. Phil, Roze and Tristan prepare for the first dive. Eric is ready before them and goes in with his camera. Most of the time is spent setting up the delivery system with two baskets on lines along with a floater to bring it up to the surface. The floaters have a habit of leaking so the lines are there as a precaution. At a depth of 40 meters the divers are limited to just 9 minutes so they have to work fast. As per usual, the floater fails on both baskets and they are hauled up with the line. Conditions are good so there will be two more dives during the day. Later after dark, Eric takes Tristan down for a night dive, with the lights used for filming the wreak takes on a little more clarity than during the day and they are able to get a much clearer outline of the ship.
South China Sea, Luconia Shoals-Day 5
Conditions hold for another two dives before some swells come up from the southwest making further dives more treacherous. There was a unusual shape the showed up on the depth sounder on the way in, so we decide to go check it out. We make several attempt to get a drop line on it but the current takes our line out of position and it is too deep to dive on safely. Returning to the reef we pick up our mooring line but with the swells coming in, Hans doesn't feel it is secure and we are surrounded on three sides by reef. So it is decided with conditions deteriorating we will head back to Miri.
Miri-Day 6 & 7
After arriving back at the marina, we get an interview with their benefactor on the wreak project, local businessman and owner of the marina, Troy Yaw. Later in the morning we head back out again to get a selection of underwater pick-up shots. The rest of the day and the next is spent conducting interviews with everyone and getting one last group discussion. Saturday, Eric and I are heading back to KK. Overall, we feel we have gotten some good footage and the makings of a very interesting story.
Roze Berekoven, UPA and researcher for MME,
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