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Karel Boon Brings Archeological Ships’ Treasures to the Surface in Curacao

Divers from Trunk Diving, based in Landhuis Daniel, took the unique opportunity to dive in Curacao’s Anna Bay the day that Hurricane Dean passed north of the island in August. The Anna Bay is the narrow waterway that leads to the large inland harbour of the capital Willemstad. In the past, many ships were wrecked in this frequently-used canal, and crocks, cutlery, old pipes, and all kinds of bottles vanished into the deep where they sank in the mire. The unusual swell, caused by outskirts of the hurricane, grubbed up the mud at the bottom, exposing the artifacts.

Archeological diver and owner of Trunk Divers Karel Boon was pleased as Punch when he saw the weather forecast and gathered some buddies to assist him in the search. The harvest was surprisingly good. Among the crocks were two old so-called onion bottles, almost intact. Another bottle was surprisingly intact with even the vulnerable handle still on it. Not only the divers were thrilled that early Saturday morning with the results of their dive, but also many spectators on the terraces in front of the famous Handelskade who flocked to the spot where the divers displayed their treasures.

It doesn’t happen so often that these kinds of artifacts see daylight again. It is not allowed for anyone to dive in the Anna Bay, because it’s still the busiest waterway of the island and, because of its narrowness, it can be very dangerous to dive here. Boon is the only dive instructor who has the license and even then, he has to ask permission of the Ports Authorities.

After these dives, which he usually carries out twice a year, Boon has to hand over most of the found artifacts to the Curacao government’s NAAM (National Archaeological Anthropological Museum) but the slightly damaged specimens are taken care of in his private museum at his dive school building.  Boon’s museum is growing into an interesting site because of the effort and the love he puts into it. His museum is also the place where artifacts can be found originating from the American frigate USS Erie, which also sank in Curacao waters in 1942.

In everyday life, Boon is a marine working as a liaison officer on the Dutch Navy Base Parera in Curacao. He successfully completed an “Underwater Crime Scene Investigation” course and is the only licensed officer for law enforcement. 

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