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Sounding Lead

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Artifact Description

A single mildly triangular sounding lead was recovered from the “Tortugas” wreck site. Soundings leads generally either incorporated a mild triangular shape with outward angled sides and rounded summits pierced by a single hole, as with the “Tortugas” artifact, or had near-parallel sides with flattened summits (sometimes with multi-chamfered edges).

This generic style of equipment was relied on to determine the depth of water between the keel and seabed. Those with an arming hole recessed into the base, as on the “Tortugas” example, could be used not just to measure water depths, but to ascertain sediment compositions. Leads varied extensively in weight according to the depths in which use was intended. At 2.9kg, the “Tortugas” sounding lead is distinctively a lightweight coastal device.

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