Harry Pecorelli III

Archaeological Investigation of the B&B Wreck (38BK1672) An Eighteenth-Century Plantation-Built Vessel Charleston. South Carolina.

(Under the direction of Professor Lawrence E. Babits) Department of History, April 2003.

This thesis documents the remains of an eighteenth-century wooden vessel found in Quinby Creek, South Carolina, by Doug Boehme and Robert Bush, in October 1993. Phase II pre-disturbance archaeological investigations conducted on the B&B Wreck (38BK1672) during two field schools and one field season provided sufficient information to address the construction location, vessel type, vessel use, and reasons for 38BK1672's demise.

Structural remains at 38BK1672 consist of a keel with a keel shoe, an intact but eroded sternpost, a disarticulated stem assembly, intact floors and futtocks, portions of an eroded keelson, and outer hull planking. All timbers are oak except for non-garboard hull planks, treenails, and the keel shoe, which are of pine. Other exposed diagnostic features include wrought iron fasteners and the fastening patterns, repairs and hardware.

This document also draws upon the historical and geographical context of 38BK1672. The site is part of a much larger picture depicting Charleston and its hinterland maritime commerce, the driving force behind Charleston's development. Plantation owners built shallow-draft, riverine vessels to transport raw materials to Charleston warehouses. Raw materials were then transshipped to larger ocean-going vessels, on which they were carried to Europe. Manufactured goods entered Charleston from other countries and were shipped to upriver plantations.

Non-typical shipbuilding techniques, most notably by the way the builder prepared the keel, suggest 38BK1672 was built on a plantation. It can be inferred that plantation carpenters, building a vessel without shipwright's training, approached certain construction problems differently than a shipwright apprenticed in Europe. When compared to other regional eighteenth-century vessels archaeologically investigated, a new vessel type emerges, the Lowcountry plantation-built vessel. While these plantation-built vessels, including Brown's Ferry vessel, Mepkin Abbey wreck, Ingram vessel, Clydesdale Plantation sloop, Malcolm boat, and 38BK1672, all draw upon the European shipbuilding tradition, these vessels have unique construction variants, and do not appear to have been constructed in a shipyard. Although construction techniques differ between these vessels they are similar in that they all appear to use economical forms of construction.

Vessel dimensions and construction leave little doubt that 38BK1672 is anything but a sloop or schooner, most likely the latter. The proximity to numerous plantations and a hull design maximizing cargo-carrying capacity while maintaining shallow draft, suggests that 38BK1672 was used to haul cargo. The presence of wear damage, including repairs, teredo worm holes, wear from shifting cargo, and 38BK1672's location in Quinby Creek suggest abandonment following a lengthy career. The presence of another sunken vessel almost beneath 38BK1672's stem suggests that this section of Quinby Creek is a ship graveyard.