James MacDonell – The 2020 MSDS Marine Scholar Award Recipient

On this weblog James MacDonell, the 2020 recipient of the MSDS Marine Scholar Grant Award to assist maritime archaeology college students shares how he has spent his award.

When the coronavirus pandemic began I used to be simply ending my undergraduate diploma on the College of Southampton and was getting ready to start out my masters in Maritime Archaeology that October. In preparation for the course, I had learnt to dive just a few years earlier than and I used to be actually trying ahead to with the ability to get my first experiences of wreck diving and maritime archaeology first-hand. However the shift to on-line studying meant that being a maritime archaeology scholar in 2020 and 2021 was difficult because it was unattainable to realize any sensible expertise and it even turned extremely troublesome to go diving. Together with different college golf equipment, my college dive membership was pressured to cease all actions for many of 2020/21 solely reopening comparatively lately over summer time. With out entry to their equipment, which comes free after you pay membership, it was just too costly to rent equipment each time I wished to go diving.

Nonetheless due to the MSDS Marine Scholar Awards Grant I used to be in a position to purchase my very own equipment together with a drysuit and regulators. Due to this I used to be in a position to go diving after I in any other case wouldn’t have been in a position to and I used to be additionally in a position to dive in areas that I by no means would have been in a position to earlier than as the price of equipment rent would have been an excessive amount of. I used to be in a position to dive at Mercer’s Nation Park in Redhill the place I used to windsurf as a child and noticed the stays of an outdated aircraft which I used to be instructed probably dated again to across the time of the First World Struggle. It was the primary dive that I had ever been on the place I had the prospect to attach with underwater cultural heritage that had not purposefully been sunk there as an amusement for divers and jogged my memory why I wished to get into maritime archaeology to start with. Then in a while in 2021 I dived off Chesil seashore which is a website I had by no means dived earlier than. There I got here throughout my first ever wreck whereas diving. I hung out exploring the stays of the wreck inspecting the metallic framing and the rivets that held it collectively whereas making an attempt to determine what part of the wreck I could also be taking a look at. It might not have been a well known wreck or of a lot archaeological significance, but it surely was nonetheless extremely thrilling to be given the chance to place the data I realized via on-line lectures to make use of when nose to nose with a wreck. However most significantly I used to be in a position to proceed my depth development after my Sports activities Diver course in 2019, now being certified to a depth of 25m with a dive deliberate quickly to qualify me to 30m.

Due to MSDS Marine I’m now able to recommence my Masters this October with the data and {qualifications} to leap straight into archaeological diving when my course begins and I’m now certified to dive at a deep sufficient depth to hopefully have the ability to assistance on maritime archaeological tasks within the upcoming yr. With out this grant I might have needed to recertify my {qualifications} and relearn nearly all the things I knew about diving from scratch and would have by no means had the chance to dive among the websites I’ve.

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