We now have the official go ahead letter from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Although we knew we had secured funding back at the end of March, we were not given the official nod, allowing us to start work until near the end of April. So far, three days of diving has been undertaken on Gun Rocks. (Two further days lost to the weather). The trail has been cleared of kelp and the cannon located – all 13 of them. However the Wessex Archaeology derived map isn’t looking as accurate as we first thought, so we are hoping to remedy this on the late May Bank Holiday Weekend.
The discussion now is whether we put a rope on the trail, or just buoy a few of the cannon and hope that divers can use a map to navigate around to each of the cannon. The rope would make it easy, but the map and buoy approach would be more fun… I guess the best way to find out which works best is to have some divers come and visit to try out the trail (both with and without a rope) and let us know what they think.
I am also currently trying to track down someone at the Marine Management Organisation in Newcastle to talk to to clarify whether we need a licence to buoy the start of the trail, and to put in a rope trail (if we do). All licences cost money and take time. If Gun Rocks was a protected wreck, then we wouldn’t need an MMO licence. At least we can temporarily mark the start of the trail (28 days) without the need for a licence, so the process shouldn’t hold us up, or the project suffer.
In other news, Joe Mallon has been doing a lot of research for this project. Hopefully I can meet up with him this month to see what we can put on the website for all to see. It sounds as if he has made some quite exciting finds, some which may shed light on the origins of the wreck(s) which deposited the cannon.
So it is all go at the moment. Sometimes I feel that there are not enough hours in the day!