Posted by Sarah, conservator with the Antarctic Heritage Trust
Date: 18 April 2011
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Temp with wind chill: -28
Two items arrived on my desk at Scott Base a few weeks ago. The catalogue record described them as wind socks, but as soon as I opened up the box I realised that what I had were not wind socks.
The items are cone shaped canvas devices with a wooden loop at the large end. Three ropes are tied around the wooden loop and extend to a central point above the cone of fabric. The material is far too heavy and there is no swivel point to allow the cones to catch the wind direction.
I had no idea what they could be used for. I wondered if they would have been used to dredge water or other items from the ocean, as they showed signs of being in salt water, and having just treated the plankton net, I was thinking they could be related to science.
The week I was treating these unknown items, we had a tour of the lab for staff from the American Base, McMurdo Station. It was then that a number of Americans on the tour suggested they could be small sea anchors or drogues.
Drogues used in the ocean, attached to a small boat to slow or help steady it and have been used since antiquity.
The shape, construction and size is certainly correct for a small boat.
Sea Anchors from Cape Evans © AHT