Story of anchor's discovery, recovery filled with intrigue | Publisher's Column

Whether the rusty, barnacle-encrusted anchor gingerly raised from the swift waters off of Whidbey Island is truly a relic of Captain George Vancouver’s expedition remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, the anchor’s recovery is a story of dedication, determination, mystery and adventure.

In summary, it contains all of the elements of an engaging story.

From its discovery in 2008 by Doug Monk, it was an obsession for him and those working with him.

Monk says he believes the anchor, which was lifted onto a barge in the waters off of Ledgewood on Central Whidbey late Monday, is from the HMS Chatham.

The HMS Chatham was part of Vancouver’s fleet that explored the Pacific Northwest 222 years ago. The anchor was recorded as lost on June 17, 1792.

Monk and his wife, Li Li, said they’re ready for this great adventure to come to a close.

“It’s been a long project ? most of our conversations end with the anchor,” Li Li told Justin Burnett, editor of the South Whidbey Record.

Burnett has covered this story for months, and was aboard the boat that pulled the anchor from its murky depths this week, documenting a significant chapter in the anchor’s story.

While the chapter of recovery is coming to a close, the chapter of investigation and verification is just beginning.

Scott Grimm has done the most research and worked closely with Monk. He’s pored over journals and logs to establish that the anchor was lost here, not somewhere else.

“I think we’re going to be vindicated,” Grimm told Burnett.

There are skeptics who believe the HMS Chatham’s anchor was lost near Bellingham. That there are red flags that indicate the anchor recovered this week is not 222 years old.

“It’s an anchor; that’s my expert opinion,” said Scott Williams, an archeologist who specializes in marine recovery.

Whether or not the anchor is from the Vancouver expedition, the fact is, the journey to the point of discovery was engaging and exciting.

We hope that the anchor is the real deal, but even if it’s not, we will be interested in learning about its origins. There is a story that this anchor is waiting to tell. In the meantime, we are appreciative of the fact that we got to tag along in this adventure, if even vicariously.


Keven R. Graves is executive and publisher for Whidbey News Group. Email him at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com


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