KendallQ

Kendall McDonald, a former Fleet Street editor, has been diving (and writing about it) for more than 45 years. He has been DIVER's wreck expert since 1960.
BREECH OF THE LAW  

 
The 15th century protected wreck site at Gull Rock, Lundy Island, has been looted. A wrought-iron breech-loading cannon has been taken, together with two stone cannonballs. It is also clear that a diver has hacked away with a knife at the muzzle of one of the remaining iron cannon, presumably to see if it was bronze, and the damage is obvious. Whats the point of this theft John Heath, Appledore

I suppose if only a stone cannonball had been taken it would be possible to think that it was a souvenir taken by a diver unaware that he or she was on a protected site, but the removal of the breech-loader makes this a deliberate theft. Whoever did it risked being caught and heavily fined, or even jailed. In the case of Gull Rock, the police are already involved.
It is hard to think that the breech-loader was stolen simply for private display. It is possible that it was destined for the already huge and still growing market in maritime antiques, recently boosted by the huge sums paid for anything with even the remotest connection with the Titanic.
Who is carrying out conservation of the breech-loader Without skilled work, it will soon be just a heap of rust. Some divers must know whodunnit and that it would be a good idea to give it back. John Heath is the licensee of the Gull Rock site and his phone number is 01237 431478.
Revolving heels  
Is this message from John Tucker the final answer to the Shirala Rooster Pad mystery (Wrecks Q&A, August)
It certainly seems so. As no more supporters of the theory that these mysterious rubber discs were vintage car shock-absorbers have come forward, we are going to have to leave the final answer to John Tucker, who writes:
My father was a shoe repairer and I grew up among such things. Your circular rubber pads were known as revolving heels and were turned a few degrees as they wore. The figure on the Rooster Pads refers to the heel size, and they came in a range of sizes. I dont know the Rooster name, but they were also made by Phillips, among others.
Thank you, John. Subject closed.

Cameo role  

 I have been told that an authorised dive on the protected wreck site of the Girona off Lacada Point, Antrim, Northern Ireland, has recently rounded off Robert Stenuits earlier work on the site - by finding the 12th cameo in a jewelled set of a dozen Roman emperors. Or is this just diver chat
Tony, Winchester

Not chat, its true. The Girona was a Neapolitan galleass wrecked in October 1588 while trying to get home by going round Ireland after the Spanish Armada was scattered.
Stenuit found it and worked the wreck in 1967 and the following year. Most of his discoveries - 12,000 artefacts, including gold and silver coin, jewellery, silver plate, bronze cannon, and those 11 lapis lazuli cameos - are now on display in special rooms at the Ulster Museumin Belfast.
Frank Madden, the licensee of the site, which he describes as now completely barren, did however find the last of the cameos, not by metal detector but by sheer luck.
He tells me that it was tucked into a little crevice in the rock at a mere 10m.
So now the 12th cameo is joining Stenuits 11 in the Ulster Museum and finally completing the set.

Say Id seen this treasure chest...  
Of which material would a valuables chest on an outward-bound Dutch East Indiaman of the late 1600s be made If metal, what kind of metal What size would it be What colour would it be after 300 years underwater Would it have any pattern on it Mike, London

What a lot of intriguing questions: I wonder if Mike would like to tell us all the story behind them and where he found his treasure chest!
Anyway, I have consulted the greatest living expert on Dutch East Indiamens treasure chests, Rex Cowan, who has recovered quite a few such chests (often full) in his time, and this is what he says:
Money chests of that period were wooden, with brass fittings and iron locks. Any patterning on the metal work was usually of fleur-de-lis. Chests varied in size, but were usually about 3ft x 2ft x 3ft.
They were covered with thick sail-cloth and bound with heavy rope. The coinage inside had blocks of peat packed around it. It was not until the late 18th century that chests of iron were used.

Yorkshire liner  
Im looking for any information about the Polish ship Pilsudski, which was sunk on 26 November, 1939, near Bridlington. Can you help me
Jan Ruszkowski, Warsaw

This is a well-dived wreck and at 14,294 tons the biggest in Yorkshire waters. I rank it 15th among the UKs wrecks! (See 100 Best Wreck Dives in this issue).
The Polish liner struck a German mine about 25 miles off Withernsea, boundfrom the Tyne to Australia in ballast as a troopship. Ten of her crew were lost. She is now at 53 45.75N; 00 45.67 in 33m.
The bow - with beautiful decorations still there - stands 9m proud, but is broken off. The three decks should be explored only by experienced divers, and they should take care, as some collapse is taking place. Tidal currents on the seabed are strong and overfalls on the surface mark the wreck.
Distance from land (18 miles from Flamborough Head) makes hardboats from Hull, Bridlington or Scarborough the sensible way to visit this wreck. For details see Diver Guide: Dive Yorkshire, by Arthur Godfrey and Peter Lassey.

One in two million  

Can you give me any information about the Admiral Gardner A friend was given an old coin and told it came from this wreck.
Luann Daytona Beach, Florida

The Admiral Gardner was a British East Indiaman of 816 tons, outward bound and anchored off the Kent coast when she was hit by a violent gale on 25 January, 1809. This blew her and her anchor on to the Goodwin Sands. Most of her crew were saved, but she became a total wreck and soon the shifting sands swallowed her up.
The wreck was discovered in 1979, when the sand moved away. Some archaeological survey work was carried out on it and on the cargo of copper ingots, barrels of nails and musket flints, iron cannon, cannonballs, tools and millions of copper coins, packed 26,000 to the barrel. The coins were to be used to pay Indian workers and were really tokens, valid only in company stores.
A great quantity of the coins were raised and are on display in various museums. Richard Larn, author of Shipwrecks of the Goodwin Sands (1995), was one of the original diving team, and says he believes that there were still two million of these coins in the wreck when the sands came back over it in 1986.
The ship is now designated as a protected historic wreck, at 51 12.00N; 01 30.56E.