The Curse of Oak Island: Season 10, Episode 5 Summary
Season 10, Episode 5 of The Curse of Oak Island begins at the Money Pit area, where Rick Lagina meets with Paul Cote of Dumas Contracting Ltd. Cote shows Rick the wooden deck that he and his crew have constructed at the top of the Garden Shaft, and explains their plan to surround it with a concrete pad. The narrator reminds us that Dumas estimates they will have the shaft recribbed within six weeks.
Lot 32 Archaeological Dig
Meanwhile, Marty Lagina heads to Lot 32 off the southwest corner of the Oak Island swamp, where archaeologists Laird Niven, Helen Sheldon, and Emma Culligan, with the assistance of Jack Begley, are in the process of investigating the site of several archaeological discoveries made the previous episode. Niven confirms that he and his crew are uncovering evidence of unrecorded activity on the island.
Back in the Money Pit area, Craig Tester, Charles Barkhouse, and Terry Matheson oversee the drilling of Borehole J-15.25, located 54 feet south of the Garden Shaft. The team hopes that this drillhole will intersect the supposed underground tunnel believed to run past the Garden Shaft, evidence for which has been uncovered through the season.
The drillers extract a core sample at depth of 98 feet, which appears to contain nothing but natural soil. A core sample taken below the previous, however, is filled with wood at a depth of 103-105 feet, which Matheson interprets as confirmation that they have intercepted the tunnel. Driller Mike Tedford then tells the crew that his drill encountered a void at a depth of 107 feet. The treasure hunters agree that they ought to conduct a sonar scan down the hole to verify the direction of the supposed tunnel.
In a later scene, the sonar scan down J-15.25 is carried out by Steve Guptill, Paul Troutman, and Scott Barlow. The image generated by the scan at a depth of 107 feet indicates that the drillhole runs through the centre of the tunnel. When Rick Lagina arrives to learn of the results, Guptill reiterates that the scan image indeed appears to portray a tunnel running north-northwest toward the Garden Shaft.
Near the end of the episode, the treasure hunters lower a camera down J-15.25. Beyond a depth of 103 feet, the camera enters the void. Troutman, the camera operator, slowly rotates the camera in a full circle, giving the treasure hunters a clear real-time view of the tunnel from a screen on the surface. The crew members spy several broken timbers which they take as proof that the void is indeed part of a tunnel.
Metal Detecting on Lot 32
In a later scene, Gary Drayton and Jack Begley head to Lot 32, where they found a trove of metal artifacts the previous episode. There, they dig up metal artifacts which they previously located with a metal detector and marked with orange flags.
The first item they unearth is a flat, slightly convex strip of iron, which Gary suggests might be a piece of a barrel loop. He bags the artifact and suggests that they present it to blacksmithing expert Carmen Legge.
The next artifact they dig up is a flat blade attached to an iron rod with a crook in it, which Gary suggests might be some sort of chopping tool, “like a small scythe.” He tentatively dates the object to the pre-1800s.
Later in the episode, Rick Lagina, Craig Tester, and Jack Begley meet in the Oak Island Research Centre with blacksmithing expert Carmen Legge and show him the artifacts recently discovered on Lot 32. Although Legge initially suspects the possible scythe might be some sort of tool like a sickle, he then identifies it as “a large barrel strap for cargo.”
He then verifies that the suspected barrel loop found earlier is indeed a piece of a barrel hoop for a barrel that could hold roughly 200 gallons. “The width of the strap,” he continues, “to me, it tells it was a wet barrel. Mead, rum, whisky. But you’re looking at a strap from a 200 gallon cast… It’s military.” He then dates the object from the 1740s to the 1760s.
Captain Duvigneau’s Letter
Later, the crew congregates in the War Room to meet with researchers Corjan Mol and Charlotte Wheatley via video conference. Viewers may recall Mol from his appearances in Season 7, Episodes 8 and 9, and Season 8, Episode 4, in which he presented his theory connecting the Oak Island treasure with clues hidden in the paintings of French Baroque artist Nicolas Poussin. You can watch my reviews of these episodes by clicking the links in the description.
Mol shows the treasure hunters an 18th Century French document from the French National Archives indicating that, during the Duc d’Anville Expedition of 1746, launched for the purpose of reclaiming the Fortress of Louisbourg from the British and razing the city of Boston, the Duc d’Anville sent two scouting ships, l’Aurore and le Castor, ahead of his main fleet. The documents indicate that these two ships had orders, given to them directly by the French King Louis XV, to head to a certain undisclosed location. Their mission necessitated that they take on a larger crew than usual, namely 250 men on l’Aurore and 180 men on le Castor. “The Aurore and the Castor,” Mol informs the crew, “arrived on the Acadian coast on June 4th, 1746, in Mahone Bay.”
According to official records, Mol explains, these large heavily-crewed frigates accomplished nothing during their visit to the Acadian coast. “This is where I take off my research hat and put on my theorist hat,” Mol continues, suggesting that the true mission of l’Aurore and le Castor was to “check on Oak Island, to check a location where they later created the Money Pit.”
Mol and Wheatley then inform the crew that the French Captain Duvigneau, who commanded both ships, included passages in the ships’ logs indicating that he didn’t “want anybody else to tell anybody else that he’s there.” They also claim that there are large gaps in his logs in which he neglected to record his crew’s activities.
The researchers then inform the treasure hunters that, upon the ships’ return to France, Duvigneau submitted his logs to the Admiralty, as was French naval custom, and appended a letter which included the following passage: “I will not speak to anyone about this place, but I am obliged to warn you that it is difficult to hide it from the quantity of people who have knowledge of it. I send my journal of navigation.”
“The only thing you do know,” summarizes Rick Lagina once the researchers conclude their presentation, “is that he had orders from the king to conduct a secret mission, and yet he reports none of it. He reports neither success nor failure, just ‘I’m not going to speak of ‘this place’. So he did do something.”