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Is that a cannon near my anchor?

Feb 12, 2016
The half-buried cannon with a 12-inch ruler placed next to it for scale

The half-buried cannon with a 12-inch ruler placed next to it for scale

Eric Sanford

Ocean Navigator contributor and voyaging sailor Eric Sanford sent us this item recently about discovering some heavy duty ordnance on the bottom near the anchor for his cruising catamaran Indigo. Of course, finding things is easy, lifting them onboard is another task completely. Sanford writes:  

I’ve always wanted a cannon on my boat. Preferably a BIG cannon to really announce my arrival, but even a small really loud one would do. But Debbie won’t let me have one; she says I’ll just shoot myself. Or her.

A few days ago we sailed from Saba to St. Kitts. After the perfunctory (and confusing) visits to customs, immigration, the port authority, the parks department and the Queen of New Zealand), we rented a scooter and took off for a tour of the island. Our first stop was the Brimstone Hill Fortress (built in 1690 by the British to defend against them pesky French marauders) where we climbed around on hundreds of massive old cannons aimed virtually everywhere but the moon, and admired the views.

Yesterday we left the main harbor of Basseterre and pulled into a small anchorage a few miles to the south for the night. We dropped the hook in twenty feet of clear, warm water, and I put on my mask to dive on the anchor to make sure it was set well, as I usually do. As I swam around I noticed something that looked out of place—the shape didn’t seem right... it was too... straight.  So I dove down to investigate.

At first I couldn’t believe my eyes as I carefully swept away some of the sand that covered the object. Perhaps after seeing all those old relics at the fort the day before, my mind was playing tricks on me. But no... no, this was really a cannon. A 350-year-old cannon, just below the surface of the sand, lying there for me to find it. Oh boy!!!

I swam back to the boat to tell Deb, and she jumped in to see what all the fuss was about. Holy cannonball, bat boy - that really IS a cannon!

Since it was just about dark I decided to have a celebratory cocktail and plot my return to the treasure. After breakfast I donned dive gear and went back for a better look, just to make sure this wasn’t some sort of historical dream. But no, right there where I had left it, not 50 feet from our anchor, was MY cannon. I started sweeping the sand and other ocean debris and growth from it to get a clearer image of my find.

Lucky for us we hadn’t hooked this thing when we anchored or we’d never have gotten loose. This was no small cannon, oh no. It measured seven feet long and twelve inches in diameter. I’m no metallurgical mathematician, but I bet this sucker weighs at least a couple tons, - probably quite a bit more. Put it this way: I couldn’t move it (lucky for Debbie or we’d be toting that baby home!).

So I just took a bunch of photos, made a note of the location on my GPS, and after lunch we took off into yet another 40-knot squall for Nevis—leaving my treasure unmolested. But trust me, if I ever get a REALLY big boat I’m coming back for that sucker!

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