The New London Maritime Society-Custom House Maritime Museum presents a treasure hunt right in our own backyard: diver Mark Munro's underwater tale Three's the Charm, the story of Mark's hunt for shipwrecks in Fishers Island Sound, a discovery, and the subsequent investigation of what turned out to be the ship Phyllis.
The exhibition includes underwater photography, artifacts, and a sonar side scan demonstration. The exhibition opening takes place on Friday, October 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 150 Bank Street, New London. It is free and open to the public.
On June 7, 2007, an unknown shipwreck was discovered in Fishers Island Sound. In an effort to determine its true identity, a dedicated group of divers and shipwreck enthusiasts undertook five years of research and invested hundreds of hours on the bottom trying to reveal her secret.
Solving the mystery and uncovering of the true identity of the shipwreck ultimately became a community effort. Research doesn't end after merely identifying a shipwreck. In an effort to broaden this wreck's story, genealogical research was undertaken, the granddaughter of the Master and owner was located and contacted, and the important human element of the story was brought to light.
This exhibit will acquaint visitors with the shipwreck of the Phyllis (AKA: Three's a Charm) through video of the shipwreck, recovered artifacts, side scan sonar images and photographs, and period newspaper articles.
A Brief Outline of Mark Munro's "discovery" of the Phyllis
The search for the Phyllis unknowingly started in 1996, when Munro attended a presentation at Avery Point on Side Scan Survey (SSS) data collected by the USGS.
"The SSS data covered eight sites in Long Island Sound, my primary interest was Fishers Island Sound," Munroe states. "At the Long Island Sound Resource Center I tried to use a SSS mosaic of the Fishers Island Sound to find wrecks but the data wasn't detailed enough. In 2002, I purchased my first SSS unit but it wasn't until 2005 that I had the equipment to look at digital SSS data."
In 2006, Munroe obtained original SSS data of Fishers Island Sound and spent the winter looking for interesting targets. A year later, he began scanning in high resolution the targets he had picked out over the winter of 2006-2007. Then he selected a few targets that were likely shipwrecks and began diving on them.
"The first two we dove on were wrecks but not very interesting, the third one was a charm," he states. "The third site was a previously unvisited wreck site with all the artifacts still present. We spent five years diving on the wreck, talking with locals, and attempting to identify the wreck. On January 10th, 2012 Joe Wojtas wrote an article on the wreck with the hope that a reader would be able to help us ID the shipwreck. A few days later I was contacted by Joe that an employee at the Day, John Ruddy, thought he had found the information we were looking for. John was right, he had identified the shipwreck."More To Come
This is the first of two exhibitions at the Custom House Maritime Museum this fall featuring local divers. The 2nd exhibition opens in November with SECONN- the Southern Connecticut Skin Divers Club: New London and our Maritime Heritage - An Underwater View. November, 2013 through January, 2014 (Opening date TBD).
The SECONN Skin Divers Club will present a collection of artifacts that represent our collective maritime history from this region—displays that connect us to past maritime casualties, the shipping trade, and the "life in an earlier time" of a working seaport. This exhibition also will highlight SECONN's annual Frozen Fin (New Year's Day) Dive at Green Harbor Beach in New London.
From a Press Release from New London Maritime Society-Custom House Maritime Museum