2004 saw the completion of the archaeological survey of the Frolic that had begun in 2003. The work was done in anticipation of Frolic Cove becoming a California State Underwater Park. A veritable army of local volunteers assisted the team with beach support, meal preparation, event planning, guided walks for the public, and safety monitoring.

The Plan

  • In-depth analysis of the entire shipwreck site — documented by video photography of the bottom, including biota to identify marine species.
  • An intense surface collection (random and targeted searches) for baseline impacts and to provide samples for off-site analysis; collection could include wood samples of keel, framing, planking, and treenails for species identification. Because Toredo worm casings in wood provide regional “place markers,” accurate descriptions allow for tracking the history of the ship’s travels. Metallurgical analysis of copper samples could also serve to identify origins and history of materials and restoration.
  • Compilation of the first comprehensive catalog of artifacts. This compendium of available artifacts would organize and list all extant Frolic artifacts, collected over 40 years and now totaling over 1600 pieces, rescued and donated to the Mendocino County Museum, the Kelley House, the Guest House Museum, and the Point Cabrillo Light Station by generous recreational divers across the state.
  • Description of cultural significance – the establishment of baseline studies and impacts allow for evaluating the importance of the Frolic story, a key step to justify establishing a maritime park, which represents the best way for permanent conservation and preservation. Thanks to historian/Archaeologist Tom Layton, the Frolic is highly researched, and this assessment represents the first time cultural description will be done in advance of determining a state park.
  • Research and planning will also serve objectives for 2005: installing historic site plaque honoring divers and other contributors, marking of the wreck, public educational display on headlands and in the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, and a video about the ship’s history for educational use.

The 2004 Team

Sheli Smith, Ph.D.
Project Director
Professor of Archaeology, Napa Valley College, Gold Rush Wreck Expert
Dede Marx
Submerged Cultural Resource Consultant
Graduate (with MA) from East Carolina University, Program in Maritime Studies
Charles Beeker
Field School Staff Archaeologist
Director, Underwater Science, Indiana University
John Foster
Senior Archaeologist (State of California)
Judy Sylvester
Conservator (Mathers Museum, Indiana University)
Russell Smith
Frolic Project Diver, Boat Operator, and Cameraman;
Mendocino Fire District staff
Morgan Pessereau
Archaeological Field School Student
Franklin Price
Archaeological Field School Student
Anne Corscabben
Archaeological Field School Student, Belfast Ireland
Stephanie Cimino
Archaeological Field School Student
Mike Esher
Archaeological Field School Student
Undergraduate in underwater science program, Indiana University
Jaime Brown
Archaeological Field School Student
Undergraduate, General Studies, Indiana University. Earning certificate in underwater resource management
Tom Layton, Ph.D.
Prehistoric-Archaeologist & Frolic Authority