A teaser of what’s to come in our short film ‘Two weeks in one day’, highlighting fieldwork on Rangitoto. /KB
Up until now, the blog has documented our finds in the field, but our recording methods have not been discussed. This blog post will introduce you to the way we are recording our sites on Rangitoto Island and considerations to look out for when using technology in the field.
Traditionally pieces of paper would be carried into the field and used to record artefacts, features, photos, anchors and GPS (Global Positioning System) points. For this field work, it was decided with the advancements and access to technology, that it was time to digitise the old paper recording forms. In doing so, it has allowed the recording forms to be stored in one place and no longer prone to wet and mushy paper when it is raining.
Filemaker Pro was used as the database software. The software allows you to develop an app like program that is user-friendly for whoever is in control. The database was created so it was easy to use on an iPad. While creating the database, time must be taken to insert all values and fields as you can’t do this when you are in the field. A value means the options that are available to choose from and a field is the name in which the values are assigned to. For example you might have the field ‘Location’ and the values assigned would be ‘Islington Bay’, ‘Rangitoto Wharf’ and ‘Beacon End’. By having prescribed values, you as a researcher have the ability to standardise and control input options in the field. This control is important as it limits the error that can be inputted into the fields. Errors on forms can range from different spellings to lack of consistency between answers. This may not sound like a big deal, but when it comes to data processing at night, it is a huge advantage to have. We’ve found that we no longer have to stay up to the early hours of the morning data processing that days information.
So how are we recording the bach and vessel sites using the iPad? The bach and vessel sites are recorded using prescribed fields and values. These include, name of recorder, date/time, location, GPS, photo, length x width, vessel material, type of vessel material and the list goes on. One person is in control of the iPad while the other takes the GPS points, notes of the site, setting up the scale for photos and scouring the site for vessel remains. Recording the vessels is slightly different in the sense that we look for evidence of salvage rather than re-use of vessel material.
The downside of technology in the field is the reliance on a digital copy of your information. Paper copies are physical and can be entered into a database. This way you retain two different copies of information. By using the iPad, you rely on having one copy. In the unlikely event of the database crashing, you can be sure your information will be lost. The only way to combat this at this stage, is to back up your database every night when you return from the field. This way you will most likely lose your days work and not the whole week. The other limitation is the reliance on power and the iPad can only hold its charge for so long. Luckily we return from the field every day to charge our electronics for the next day. But if you are planning on staying in a remote location for a long period of time, consider taking booster power packs or solar chargers. The other consideration for technology in the field is that water and electricity do not mix. For iPads, however, there are many aftermarket weather proof housings that can be used to protect your iPad from the rain, snow, wind and aid as a shock absorber when dropped. This project has employed a Lifeproof case (more can be found here http://www.lifeproof.com/en/) and so far has lived up to its expectations. The case has allowed us to work in all weather conditions and so far only ferry cancellations has hampered our survey work.
The benefit of using technology is the ability to control the information collected and entered into the database and to keep it consistent. Technology also allows for quicker data upload and extraction. This means time can be spent on other priorities for the field project.
Hopefully this has provided some info about the way we are recording the sites and if you wish to ask for more information feel free to comment or use the contact page. /KB
Early frost on Islington Bay wharf yesterday boded well for a successful and final day at the Islington Bay baches.
Being dropped off by Chinook allowed a full 2 hours extra working time before the first ferry arrived. One of the days highlights was locating possible porthole glass being used as a window in the back of a chimney at one bach.
The other high point was finding two masts which were used in the construction of a treehouse in the garden of a bach.
While these masts are unlikely to be from the ships graveyard because they would be from smaller vessels, it is still an exciting sign of salvage and reuse of vessel material!
We are now taking a well-earned rest day after 8 continuous days of fieldwork on Rangitoto, but will be back tomorrow for our first day at the Rangitoto Wharf bach community. /MF
‘Bach’ is a term unique to New Zealand for describing holiday homes; cheaply built, basic living which could be on the coast, rivers, a lake or in the forest or mountains. Today, we want to hear about what you call your holiday get-a-way! Check out the poll below and if your term isn’t listed then please add you own. If you want to share further details then leave a comment below. We’d love to find out about bach equivalents in other parts of the world! /MF
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
1992 From Ship to the Bush: Ship Tanks in Australia. Australian Historical Archaeology 10: 24–29.
Rangitoto is best known for its historic bach homes, however, WWII introduced a new purpose for this island: military defence. With the threat of invasion at Auckland Harbour, Rangitoto was declared a “Prohibited Area” and was used as a harbour defence fire control and radar station.
Beginning in 1939, bach owners on the western end of the island were instructed to evacuate (with the exception of a few year-round residents). By October 1941 the entire island community was given orders to leave. Despite these military restrictions, bach owners were allowed to visit the island on the last Sunday of every month from 10:00 to 16:30.
Although military use of the island continued up through the end of the war, by 1943 bach owners were permitted to access their homes once more. For some, the ban had been in effect for nearly four years! In response to this inconvenience, owners were compensated for lease fees paid during the period in which they were unable to access the island. /VS
To make the most of the beautiful weather we had on Rangitoto Island today, the team and our captain launched Chinook from Auckland CBD just as the sun was rising.
We made it out to Boulder Bay by 08:30, which gave us heaps of time to get a good look at the wrecks in the area.
Remains from nine wrecks (from a total of thirteen) were photographed, measured, and recorded at both Boulder and Wreck Bays—one of these sites displayed signs of wood sawing and a fire pit had the remains of iron bolts—suggesting salvage and reuse of the vessel.
The remaining four sites have either been completely submerged or evidence no longer exists of their location.
The team’s completion of the survey at Boulder and Wreck Bays is the perfect ending to my last day on Rangitoto. It has been an exciting week and I can’t wait to see what the team comes back with tomorrow! /VS
Just for fun to get you through your Wednesday. /MF
If you were to dig straight down from the cone of Rangitoto Island through the centre of the Earth you would end up in the south of Spain near Arriate.
Today was a stunning winter day, perfect for our first visit to Wreck Bay, also known as Boulder Bay. We took the ferry again, this time from Auckland city, which had us disembarking at Islington Bay at 10:00, and we then made our way along the 35 minute walking track to Wreck Bay.
We surveyed two of the eleven abandoned vessels in this location, both on the western end of the bay, Rarawa and Dartford.
Possible evidence of salvage was found in an assemblage of iron bolts which were collected in a pile alongside the remains of burnt timber, although it was not possible to postiviely identify the vessel which these are associated with. /MF