The Beeswax (aka Goonies) Wreck

I love a great story. This one certainly ticks that box. It’s so good that NatGeo added it to their very successful Drain the Oceans series. See S6E4 The Myth of the Pacific Pirate Ship

I also love being part of a great team. Once again, I found myself in the company of very, very talented folks who welcomed me, taught me, had patience with me, and heightened my enthusiasm for the project.

Part of the team (L to R) Stacy Scott, Wayne Derrick, Art Trembanis, Me, Kyle Lent

Finally, the tech. LiDAR, SONAR, photogrammetry, drones . . . all my favorites. All of this used to document, explore, explain, and share the artifacts found so far.

My job was twofold. First and foremost, I was tasked to document the artifacts the team had massed at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. Second, I was to shoot drone footage for the show.  I know.  A great gig.

For all but one of the artifacts I used my iPhone 13 Pro and Pix4Dcatch. The ability to combine the LiDAR and photos from the iPhone using Pix4Dmatic is perfect for this kind of work. For the largest artifact, a ship’s timber I used a FARO s350 laser scanner. That bit made the show. I wanted to ensure I provided the highest level of precision I could as the data was shared with experts around the world who know Philippine Galleons so the 350 was the right tool. I even used targets to ensure the registration of the scans was as tight as possible.

What you see on the iPhone using Pix4Dcatch while you scan. In this case 4x ship’s timbers.
Scanning the largest timber with the FARO s350 – note the target spheres.

As for the drone footage? Watch the show. The only behind the scenes story I have is that for some of the footage I had to take off and land from the boat we were on. A small boat filled with people, festooned with masts, antennas and outrigger fishing gear – all kinds of items that would love to eat a drone. Combine that with the rocking and rolling of a vessel at sea and it was not an ideal situation from drone operations.

I have lost drones before. It’s expensive. To lose a drone AND the SD card with the footage on it is even worse. So, after an attempt or two at landing/catching the drone on a heaving deck I thought let’s use the big hand net and grab it out of the sky. Noah, our stalwart PA caught the drone with no problem. What’s more even after “landing” and getting all snarled up in the net the drone is in great shape. Not scratch, not even a broken prop. Thank you DJI for making such a tough little bird (with a great camera in it!) The DJI Mavic 2 Pro if you are curious.

An amazing artifact from the ship. Note the many timbers on the table behind me.
Lots of Chinese porcelain has been washing up on the beaches for the last 330 years. Amazing to see some of it.
Friend and mentor Jim Delgado and I with a block from the ship

I’m no spoiler so I can’t say too much more other than the story is not over yet. There might even be a chance for anyone, yes anyone, to join in on the next phase of the project. See SEARCH 1×1 for details.

My sincere thanks to the team. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, shared some knowledge, and made some good friends.

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