NH diver hopes to display objects found off Granite State coast
"When I saw the bottle, I said, 'Holy smoke, this is unbelievable.' I put my hand in and I was plucking out hundreds of bottles," said Ray Demers.
The onion bottle's seal was the link to discovering the owner of the privateer, Capt. George Jackson, an Indian fighter and son-in-law to one of the first settlers along the Piscataqua River in Maine, Col. William Pepperell.
"I have the oldest bottles discovered in this historic area," Demers said. "There's a tremendous amount of history in these waters."
The father and son also found hundreds of earthenware, pipes, bottles, mugs, cannon balls, animal bones, leather shoes, pewter ware, jars, a ship's knee and lower deadeye, a nautical divider and wooden bombs.
One of the ships was the 20-gun HMS Astrea that burned in Portsmouth Harbor in 1744. The ship was of Spanish origin but had been defeated by the British in Porto Bello in Panama in 1739.
"That's what I needed to identify the ship. The diameter of each hole tells me the size of the rope and then it tells me the size of the ship," he said. "I was trying to locate where the fire started, and because it's charred on one side it tells me the fire started in a kiln on the galley. The fire burned the rope first and the deadeye would have fallen over."
Demers and his wife of 54 years, Nancy, also have two daughters, Paula Gagne and Diane Denoncourt, both of Manchester. Nancy, a former St. Anselm College nursing instructor, was awarded three grants and traveled to Fortaleza, Brazil, with the Partners of the Americas in 1996-98, to set up an AIDS prevention program.
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