Nav tools found at wreck siteApr 22, 2014
Octant and chronometer side by side on the seafloor. Only the shades of the octant are visible above the sediment.
Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition
In addition to being a circumnavigator, ON contributing editor Jeff Williams is also a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) pilot on board the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. The research vessel Okeanos Explorer is currently using ROVs to explore parts of the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico. One the areas of interest is a 19th century shipwreck site. While using an ROV to carefully image the shipwreck site, the investigators found two navigational tools poking out of the bottom sediment. On closer inspection these artifacts turned out to be a chronometer and an octant (a sight-taking instrument that subtends one eighth of a circle compared the the sextant's one sixth).
For an ocean sailor like Jeff, who has used celestial navigation in his sailing exploits, the discovery of the 19th century navigational instruments established a special connection to the mariners who operated the ill-fated wreck. Read Jeff's post on the Okeanos Explorer blog.