BAUE Mating Amtracks Project

BAUE Mating Amtracks Project

June 2-3, 2012

What It's All About
Project Plan
Dive Operations
Project Data
Project Participants

What It's All About

Each year, BAUE conducts a large scale project that is aimed at team-building, challenging our team members, and giving back to the local community. Club members of all levels are encouraged to participate, to utilize their training and expand their personal capacities as well as the capacity of the group to work as a larger team.

The 2012 project took place at the Mating Amtracks, a well-known local dive site in Monterey Bay, where two amphibious tracked vehicles sit, one on top of the other. The project consisted of several months of planning, including a reconnaissance dive, a project meeting, two project practice days, one day of setup dives, and two days of survey and documentation dives. Participants contributed in a variety of ways, including planning, research, surface management, diving, and data processing.

The Amtracks sit in appoximately 75 feet of water, and thus all dives were within recreational limits.


The main goal of this project was to survey and produce a site plan of the Mating Amtracks, using the techniques that we learned in the 2011 NAS Archaeology class.  

Some of the specific goals included:
  • Collect survey data points sufficient to make a 2-D top-view sketch of the Mating Amtracks (and optionally a side-view).
  • Generate a sketch based on the data points collected.
  • Research the possible origin and identity of the Amtracks.
  • Mentor and train new divers in the use of archaeological survey techniques.
  • Create a web space on the BAUE site summarizing our work.

Special Tools/Software Used
  • GPS housed in a waterproof container
  • SMB to mark the wreck position
  • Software (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, SiteRecorder, InkScape, Excel)
  • Wetnotes with modified NAS data collection template
  • Tape baselines
  • Collapsible rulers
  • Plumb bobs
  • Scale sticks
  • Bungees, spools, various clips to mark features

Project Plan


The Mating Amtracks are located at 36 37.788 N 121 54.620 W, approximately half a mile north of Lovers' Point, in 70 to 75ft of water. The entire site covers around 300 square feet, and is surrounded by sand. Depending on the sea conditions, the area can be subject to surge, and the visibility is extremely variable, though 20' is typical.

The site consists of two amphibious tracked vehicles, one on top of the other. The bottom vehicle is mostly buried in the sand, while the top one is almost completely exposed, with its super-structure collapsed inside of the body. There is a rubble field on the south end of the site.

While accessible primarily by boat, the site can be reached on a well-planned scooter dive under excellent diving conditions.  Since the site is quite small, commercial dive boats do not frequent this site but it is often visited by private dive boats. 


Our goal was to generate a 2D top-down site plan of the top Amtrack. If time allowed, we would also generate a 2D side view of at least one of the tracks. In order to achieve this, we planned to identify and mark interesting and distinctive reference points on the wreck, upon which we would center our data collection. We would map out these reference points using the baseline-offset method, with two baselines running parallel along the rails on each side of the wreck, which would themselves be oriented to each other. We would also photograph all areas of the wreck, with scale sticks and reference points in each frame. The baseline-offset data allowed us to draw a basic map of these points, with the photographs allowing us to "connect the dots". We did not plan any sketching in the water, relying instead on the photographs to allow sketching after the fact.


BAUE chartered the Escapade to support our activities for the project. As always, the crew of the Escapade was essential to facilitate timely and safe operations.


While we frequently refer to the project as taking place on a single weekend, the entire project consisted of six months of planning and preparation, a weekend of data collection, and six more months of data processing. The rough timeline for this year's project was:

  • Preliminary project planning (Jan - Mar 2012)
  • Reconnaissance dive (Feb 2012)
  • Project meeting (April 2012)
  • Project practice days (April, May 2012)
  • Background research on Amtracks (April 2012 - present)
  • "Project weekend" - setup and data collection dives (June 2012)
  • Data processing; sketch, video, and report preparation (June - Dec 2012)

Dive Operations

Dive Plans

Dives were conducted over a total of four days, including one reconnaissance dive (in February), one day of project setup, and two days of data collection. All dives were conducted from the Escapade, with the full support of the captain and crew.

Site Assessment Dive

In February, a team of divers conducted a dive on the site in order to assess the site for its potential as a project site. Beyond general assessment, the goals of this recon dive were to collect some preliminary pictures and video of the site, and take some very coarse measurements of the size of the site. These data would be presented during the project meeting in April.

Project Setup Day

A small group of divers conducted set-up dives on the site in preparation for the larger group effort on the following days.

Two teams of 3 divers completed the following objectives over three dives:
  • Located the wreck and set a downline.
  • Set and labelled 2 baseline tapes along the rails of the top Amtrack, and oriented the baselines to each other.
  • Identified and marked interesting survey points on the wreck.
  • Took photographs of the wreck before survey work had begun.
  • Captured GPS data from a downline positioned on one corner of the wreck.
Set-up teams left a temporary downline in place on the site to mark one corner of the site.

Data Collection Days #1 and 2

On June 2, 2012 and June 3, 2012 a total of 20 BAUE divers completed 19 dives to document the site. The divers were assisted by 3 boat crew members and 3 surface managers. At the end of the third day, 4 dives were completed to cleanup the site.

Each dive team focused on one of three goals on each dive:
  1. The collection of baseline offset survey data (14 dives).
  2. Photographic documentation (4 dives)
  3. Video documentation of the site (1 dive)
Many divers participated in different tasks on different dives, with the majority of divers participating in at least some survey data collection.

On each dive, there was one designated data manager, who was responsible for collecting all of the data sheets from divers after the dive, and reviewing the data for legibility. There were also two surface managers per dive, one on the boat and the other at K-dock. They communicated with each other via cell phones in order to organize the divers for the next dive. After divers returned to the dock, each team was asked to fill out a sheet that summarized what they did on the dive. These would help during data processing, in case there were any ambiguities on the data sheets.

Dive Execution

The data collection days were by far the most complex dive days, due to both the large number of tasks to complete and the large number of partcipants, so we confine our discussion of the dive execution to these dives.

Three dives were scheduled for each data collection day, with up to 4 dive teams in the water for each scheduled dive.  Dive times were planned to be no more than one hour in duration, and all teams were on schedule. This schedule allowed a total of 5 dive slots for documentation, and 1 dive slot for site cleanup.

Day 1

Briefing: A project briefing was conducted on Saturday morning, where we reviewed:
  • data collection protocols
  • the dive schedule and team assignments
  • the setup of the baselines on the wreck
Dive 1: The planned boat departure for the first dive was 10 a.m., though we ended up ahead of schedule after the project briefing. After a short ride to the site, 4 dives were conducted:
  • 2 photo documentation dives, of the orientation of the site and marked interesting points
  • 2 survey dives, one on each of the tracks
All teams were in the water by 9:45 and out of the water by 10:45. 

Around 11 a.m., the Escapade returned to K-dock to offload the first group of divers and to on-load divers for dive 2. Since we were ahead of schedule, the Surface Managers directed Dive 2 participants on shore to prepare for an early departure. 

Dive 2: The Escapade returned to the site and Dive 2 divers began entering the water at 11:45 a.m.

Teams in this group executed:
  • Survey of one track
  • 2 survey dives of interesting points on the wreck
  • Photo documentation of the survey divers

All divers were out of the water by 12:30 p.m., and the boat returned to K-dock to pickup Dive 3 divers.
Dive 3: The last group entered the water at 1:45, and all project dives were completed by 2:30 p.m.

Dive teams completed:
  • Two survey dives of interesting points on the wreck
  • Video documentation. 
The Escapade returned to K-dock to offload divers at around 3 p.m.

Day 2

Briefing: A short briefing was provided to summarize the work left, and to brief those participants who did not participate on Saturday.
Dive 1: The boat departed for the first dive shortly after 9 a.m., and all divers were in the water by 10 a.m. Four dives were conducted:
  • Survey of one of the tracks
  • Survey of the sprocket
  • Two dives to survey interesting points on the wreck
All teams were out of the water by 10:45 a.m. 
Dive 2: The Escapade returned to the site and all divers entered the water by noon.

Teams in this group executed:
  • Survey of one track
  • 2 survey dives of interesting points on the wreck
  • Photo documentation of the survey divers

All divers were out of the water by 12:45 p.m., and the boat returned to K-dock to pickup Dive 3 divers.
Cleanup Dive: The last group of four teams conducted cleanup dives. The teams removed all of the markings on the interesting points (including the clips, bungees, and spools used to attach them), the baselines, the downline, etc. in order to leave the site in the same condition that we found it in.

Site Conditions

Two potential challenges at this dive site are visibility and surge. Conditions varied throughout the project. On Friday, we found unusually good visibility around 40 feet, with minimal surge. On Saturday, it was quite surgy in the morning, which impacted data collection on the first two dives. Visibility was still pretty good (exceeding 20 feet), though the stronger surge stirred up the bottom a bit. That afternoon and the following day, the conditions improved. We were able to collect redundant measurements for all data collected during the first two dives, so we are confident in the results despite the challenging conditions.

The surface conditions for getting geared up and into the water were overall quite favorable. On the setup day, we encountered some wind-chop and overcast conditions which made for somewhat chilly surface intervals. But the weekend days both had fairly calm conditions on the surface, and sunny skies.

Dive teams were well-organized, so that we were able to deploy teams into the water more quickly than expected once on the site. This, plus the ability of the surface managers to communicate schedule changes, allowed us to run significantly ahead of schedule on both days.

As always the crew of the Escapade did an impeccable job of supporting our efforts.


Data Processing

Processing the data collected during the project was no small task, so we will briefly discuss some of the tools and techniques used for this.
  • Excel to project the top-down survey data onto a horizontal plane.
  • Site Recorder to plot these data on 2D drawing.
  • Photoshop to process the photos, and build a mosaic depicting large areas of the wreck.
  • Illustrator to trace the features of the wreck from the mosaic over the site recorder plot.
  • Inkscape to draw the side view plots.
  • Adobe Premier to process the video of divers working on the wreck.
Site Plan

Based on our survey, we produced three 2D projections of the wreck, viewed from the top, starboard side, and port side.

(Click to view full size.)

Project Videos

Two videos were produced from project footage:

Project Video

Some Additional Underwater Footage


The 2012 BAUE project was a success in that we achieved our primary goal of producing and publishing a 2D site plan of the Mating Amtracks dive site, as well as a repository of photos of interesting features of the wreck. The project was also successful in that members of the group gained experience and refined a variety of skills:
  • Working within a larger team to achieve an objective
  • Using measuring devices and recording data underwater
  • Efficient scheduling and deployment of multiple teams from a boat

These skills are valuable for future project work both within BAUE and in team members' own personal diving.

Project Data

Project Participants

Suzanne Baird Survey
Clinton Bauder Photography
Susan Bird Planning, setup, survey, videography
Kevin Dow Setup, survey, photography
John Heimann Research, survey
Mykle Hoban Survey
Dionna House Survey
Allison Lee Planning, setup, survey, data processing, project writeup
Ian Lee Survey, data processing
Robert Lee Planning, setup, survey, photography, data processing
Jim MacDonald Survey
Beto Nava Planning, setup, survey, videography, data processing
Ted Pimentel Survey, photography
Adam Rachman Survey
Nick Radov Research, survey
Sandra Tullis Survey
Leah Vieta Survey, illustration
Matt Vieta Survey
Jason Warshawsky Survey
Andrew Yasinsky Survey

Gary Banta Surface Management
Jim Capwell Escapade Captain
Carol Fields Surface Management
Mark Lloyd Surface Management
Joe Platko Escapade Crew
Luke Robert Escapade Crew