Thirsty anyone?

Today, ships water tanks made up the main finds at the Islington Bay bach sites. In total five were photographed and measured. They ranged in size from 100cm (39.4 inches) x 100cm x 100 cm to 122cm (48 inches) x 122cm x 122cm. These sizes seem to fit the measurements of the Braby designed ships water tank, as well as displaying the rounded riveted seams on all edges (Pearson 1992: 24). All were painted in a bright silver colour and at one time connected to the baches as a source of water.

All bach sites south of Islington Bay wharf have been completed. Tomorrow, work will start towards the north and continue around to Gardiner Gap. /KB



Pearson, Michael

1992 From Ship to the Bush: Ship Tanks in Australia. Australian Historical Archaeology 10: 24–29.


The NZ ‘bach’: synonymous with holiday


Pelham’s Pool, Islington Bay (Yoffe 2000, pg8)

“The word bach is synonymous with holiday in New Zealand.”

So begins the late Susan E. Yoffe’s publication titled Holiday Communities on Rangitoto Island, New Zealand. Kurt is not the first researcher to investigate the island’s bach communities. In 2000, the above monograph was published based on Yoffe’s thesis research with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland. She explored the social aspect of community by documenting the history of the three bach communities from their inception to the halting of new leases in 1937. The reminiscences of bach owners and their families formed the backbone of her research. While this investigation was not archaeological, the archival and oral history recollections provide important context for the present archaeological and maritime themed study. To read Yoffe’s monograph click here. /MF

Fun fact

A fun fact about abandonment to start off the weekend! /KB

In 14th century England a shipwreck was not considered legally abandoned until the ship’s cat had left it.

Thomas, Keith 1984 Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500–1800. Penguin, Harmondsworth. p98.

Ship to shore—the literature not the TV show!

The classic 90s TV show Ship to Shore, while not featuring any abandoned vessels that I can remember, centred around the lives of a small community living on an island—a maritime community. It is exactly this type of community, albeit in the past, that abandoned watercraft can tell us about.

The ‘Rangitoto Island Abandoned Vessels and Baches Project’ is not the first to investigate a ships graveyard archaeologically. In fact, there are some seminal studies that should be cited (and you should get your hands on a copy if you want to learn more) in order to provide a background to the project and to see how it fits into the wider context of maritime archaeology.

The first of these is Ships’ Graveyards: Abandoned watercraft and the archaeological site formation process by Flinders University alumni Nathan Richards, published in 2008. Using Australian waters as a case study, he reveals the way in which we actively and unexpectedly create our own cultural heritage sites. The second is The Archaeology of Watercraft Abandonment, edited by Nathan Richards and Sami Kay Seeb, and published just last year. While this volume has a focus on the Americas, it does reveal the great diversity of geographical, historic, thematic and theoretical contexts of ship graveyard sites and deliberately abandoned vessels. In this book is a chapter on abandonment within a naval context which includes case studies from New Zealand (to read this chapter by another Flinders alumni, James Hunter, click here.

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Therefore, the Rangitoto Island ships’ graveyard is just one amongst the common heritage and global themes that ship graveyard sites represent. Let’s hope they don’t all feature those annoyingly mischievous kids from Ship to Shore! /MF