His research is financed by a grant from the South
African lottery board, which sometimes uses profits to back heritage projects.
He describes himself affably as "a one-man show."
Major potential donors, like the Dutch government, want to see proof of the Meermin's remains before signing on to
his project, he said. Eventually he hopes to generate enough interest to search for other slave wrecks in the
vicinity, including the French ship Jardinière, which sank 28 years after the Meermin in the same
"This is a long-term thing," he said. "Twenty
Mr. Boshoff's field reports dutifully note both his
struggles and his strides. His first efforts to find the Meermin involved lashing a magnetometer to a foam
surfboard and towing it down the beach behind a 4-by-4 vehicle. The next day, he hammered a six-and-a-half-foot
pole into the sand at the points where the device had recorded the presence of metal, hoping to hit
"This was a singularly unsuccessful exercise," reads
his report of November 2002. Later he determined the device was too rudimentary to register the presence of any
metal deeper than five feet or provide accurate readings.
Subsequent surveys from the air and on the ground
went better. Last week Anglo-American, the mining and natural resources conglomerate, lent Mr. Boshoff a $40,000
magnetometer and the services of Albert Mandobe, a field assistant. For days Mr. Mandobe painstakingly paced the
beach with a nine-foot metal pole strapped to his shoulder while the device recorded each magnetic abnormality as
precisely as an electrocardiogram records heartbeats.
measurements will be used to design a contour map that Mr. Boshoff says will guide excavation. Three
sites look promising. The fourth, Mr. Boshoff has concluded, is probably the buried
Success, he predicted,
would ultimately be a combination of patience, skill and resources. Plus, he added, a measure of "blind