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The Curse of Oak Island recap: Team uncovers metal anomalies in Smith’s Cove

Marty Lagina on Curse of Oak Island
Marty Lagina leads the team as the investigate the possible slipway. Pic credit: History

On The Curse of Oak Island this week the team continues to carefully dig up the old slipway previously found at Smith’s Cove. It is one of the most intriguing finds to date, possibly dating back centuries.

Speculation is that the slipway, found five weeks earlier, could have been used to haul treasure onto the island. Now, the goal is to carefully remove the slipway and find more artifacts and clues.

So far the team has found mysterious U and L shaped structures, a curious cement wall, iron crib spikes and a large hinge possibly dating to the early 1600s. Despite the plentiful haul, Rick still does not believe that have found everything there is to find, saying, “The game’s still afoot.”

While archeologist Laird Niven undertakes his methodical process of removing the slipway logs, Gary Drayton and Jack Begley begin to metal detect in the immediate vicinity. Because this is likely the oldest structure in Smith’s Cove, the team believe that this area affords the best chance of finding something of value.

Soon Gary’s detector beeps and Jack is quick to take a trowel to the earth before realizing that a shovel is needed. Eventually, they find a fist-sized clump, with metal inside it. However the lump is inscrutable as is, and so they bag it for later inspection.

Later Gary’s detector beeps again causing Jack to yell, “Now I’m excited!” and he has reason to be pleased as Gary calls out, “it is a coin … that’s a silver coin, wow this is cool.”

The Curse of Oak Island team discovers what could be a rare coin
A coin is discovered on Curse of Oak Island. Pic credit: History

He thinks that it could be a depositor coin and questions if the bit in his hand is a Spanish one real.

The silver real was commonly used between the 15th-19th centuries by North American explorers, as well as Spanish and Portuguese pirates dating back to the 1500s. Could this coin be used to date the slipway and its creators?

Rick is called over to inspect the silver, but when he states that he wants to see Gary’s infamous gold dance, Gary and Jack get back to searching.

Also at Smith’s Cove Rick meets with geophysicist Mike West who uses a scanning device, known as an EM61, to search for metal anomalies. Two weeks ago the results of a dye test found that traces of the dye emerged in front of the wooden crane pit used to construct the cofferdam. While they don’t have permits to excavate beneath the pad, West will gather data for future explorations.

West’s equipment is capable of scanning as deep as 20 feet underground, and when he hears credible beeps, he throws down a pink flag to mark sites of interest. He finds a “huge target” next to the crane pad. Is it evidence of the flood tunnels protecting the Money Pit vault or something even more significant? Based on West’s findings, Marty determines that it will be necessary to excavate the crane pad.

In the war room, the team meets with professional surveyor Steve Guptill to view the mapping evidence he has collected regarding Shaft 6. He shows them a consolidated overview of everything that has been drilled there to date.

Guptill’s expertise was called upon after the H8 site began to give way, forcing the team to find another way to the Money Pit. This alternative avenue involves using an old searcher tunnel, Shaft 6, dug in 1861.

However, the actual shaft site remains elusive and so Guptill has combined data from dozens of maps and records in a bid to accurately locate the shaft, potentially finding a debris field full of artifacts and treasure. After seeing Guptill’s evidence, Rick proclaims, “I think we’re closer than ever … slowly but surely we’re unraveling the Money Pit.”

Based on the composite map, Rick pinpoints the area he thinks the team should start drilling, and names the site S6 for Shaft 6.

Later, the team gathers at the site with Vanessa Lucido of ROC Equipment and representatives from Irving Equipment Limited. Together the companies will use a 220-ton crane to sink a caisson into the earth through which spoils will be brought to the surface.

Regarding the operation, Marty notes that they are, “About to begin the most important excavation on Oak Island this year.” At first load after a load of wood is pulled up through the caisson.

“The answers are there,” says Rick, “so just wait and see what comes up.”

Then, at a depth of 95 feet geologist Terry Matheson cries out, “I think we’re there!” after finding boulders in situ, which could mean that they are close to Shaft 6 and the treasure vault. Then, at 101 feet down the team may have cut through a hard object; is it the roof of the Shaft 6 tunnel?

Meanwhile, as the spoils are washed and searched by hand, an interesting piece of wood that could support the tunnel is found. It has an “up and down pattern,” not a circular saw cut, meaning it could be hundreds of years old. The team concludes that is not from the Chappell shaft construction but is earlier than that.

Next, a gobsmacking find is made.

“My guess is leather,” says Doug Crowell taking a look at the floppy, muddy object that has been pulled from the spoils. Leather can be dated, so the piece is bagged for additional testing, maybe C14 testing.

Just ten feet away leather bits have been found in the H8 shaft. Could this be more of the same? Rick says, “I have high hopes,” of there being an a-ha moment.

As the day progresses, more wood is found, hand-hewn pieces at 110 feet. Marveling at the logs, the team declare them to be “big timbers” and Rick says, “that’s oak there’s no question about that.” If so, it is a significant discovery.

The team finds large pieces of oak buried underground on Curse of Oak Island
The team finds large pieces of oak buried underground. Pic credit: History

Past searchers reported finding oak logs in this area and Rick thinks that if this is oak it could indicate the presence of the Money Pit that collapsed in 1861.

For his part, Gary thinks the logs are ship timbers, like those he has seen washed up on shore after storms.

There are theorists who believe that the Money Pit was built using repurposed ship timber. Are these big timbers tangible evidence of this incredible theory?

“What a shock, the day ends and we have another mystery!” jokes Marty.

The next day Jack finds a possible piece of iron chain in the spoils. Could it have been used to chain slaves underground where their spirits would curse searchers and protect the treasure vault? The chain, along with bones found here last year, could be evidence of this startling theory. Gary thinks the chain bit is hand forged and definitely needs to be tested.

But wait, there’s more! Soon a fragment of what could be bone is found in the spoils by historian and researcher Doug Crowell.

“That’s bone mate, good eye!” cries Gary. The team will have a DNA analysis done to determine if the bone fragment is human.

It was a week full of fascinating and unforeseen discoveries on Oak Island. What could the pieces of leather, oak timber, bone, and chain add up to? They could be the pieces to an incredible puzzle that when put together lead to treasure. Or is it possible that these pieces form a more ominous picture, one that is sinister and foreboding for the team searching for treasure?

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.

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