Ultimate Beachcomber’s Journal

I am so excited…this book, my book, will soon be published.

The Ultimate Beachcomber’s Journal includes journal pages, information on things that wash up on shore, a sea shell life list, favorite beach vacation journal pages and more.

The brain child of me, a beachcomber who keeps lists, this is my ultimate journal. I love to write about what I’ve found, what I’ve collected, where I was and the other things I saw on my beachcombing days. I have even drawn my journal as I scoured the shoreline or sat in my beach chair. I’ve sketched the birds on the shore, the shells I found, the boats out at sea and more. And this journal includes some pages for you to draw on, too.

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Probably the cover photo

The Ultimate Beachcomber’s Journal is a book for you to log your beachcombing adventures.

I’m working on the cover this week so bear with me…it’ll be available soon.

Where? On Amazon and through my Etsy store. Keep track of my progress and when you can order your copy by following my facebook page: CraftyBeachcomber.

Happy Beachcombing!

 

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Florida Water

I was given a gift of a bottle that washed up on a Central American, Carribbean beach.  It is a beautifully ocean-worn, green bottle with irridescence throughout. Sand and shells are trapped inside, held by a sand plug that I do not want to crack for the benefit of emptying the bottle.  Some of the sand looks as if oil seeped in and trapped both itself and the sand inside the neck. Most of the sand is coarse, lumpy and dark with small shell shards mixed in, tumbling around; most likely some coral. Air pockets exist and the bottle’s inside seems to be pitted in spots, as sea glass shards get pitted just from being in salt water.  Not one part of the glass is broken, chipped or cracked.

Vertically, raised letters on the bottle read:

FLORIDA WATER

MURRAY & LANMAN

DRUGGISTS

NEW YORK

It is an awesome gift: a beach find, sand from a beach I’ve never been to, glass that appears old and it is from a dear friend.  The bottle is displayed in a prominent spot in my house between a Seagrass basket from the South Carolina Low Country filled with shells from my first month living on Siesta Key back in 2009 and a digital frame featuring scenes from a Hawaiian vacation in 2012.

My husband was looking at it last week and we talked about what Florida Water could be.  He found it online, ordered it and we just got a bottle of Florida Water in the mail.  It came in a plastic bottle of the same shape as my glass treasure but just a little smaller.  The cologne inside is sealed with a plastic screw top and a label with a vintage look is stuck to the outside of the bottle.  We took a whiff and a pleasant tropical aroma of citrus, lavendar and clove touched our senses.  I first thought of Jean Nate, a scent from my youth.  My husband read me some information about it and found that Florida Water is a uni-sex cologne with an orange base.  It can be used as a cologne or toilet water.  We read that it can be used in your bath and that baseball teams in the South would combine it with ice in a cooler and wet down some towels to wrap around the players’ necks to cool off when it was too hot out.DSCN6914

So, how did a bottle of Florida Water end up on a South American beach?

Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water was the the most popular product sold by Lanman & Kemp, a leading New York City wholesale druggist firm in 1808. Florida Water was sold as a toilet water. Advertisements claimed it was associated with the Fountain of Youth that the Spanish explorer Ponce de León had searched for in the early 1500s and had refreshing qualities and cosmetic uses.

Lanman & Kemp was involved in the 19th-century wholesale drug (pharmaceuticals and herbals) trade throughout the world.  With the help of traveling sales agents, major company operations existed in Central and South America and in the Caribbean Islands. Shipments were also sent through the maritime mail.

There were many variations of the Florida Water bottle shape and size throughout the years. I learned that Florida Water was launched in 1908 although the “druggists” partnership between Murray & Lanman was pre-civil war. The following parnership of Lanman & Kemp operated afterward and shipped many personal products throughout the world by boat, including Florida Water.

Maritime shipping had its good and bad moments. The Carribbean and Gulf of Mexico is dotted with shipwrecks. It wasn’t until recently that hurricanes and other storms were tracked. In early days, ships went about their business moving around the vast seas without warning until it was too late. It is estimated that hundreds of shipwrecks still lay, mostly unexplored, beneath the waters.  It is noted that several bottles of Murray & Lanman Florida Water were found from the depths of the shipwrecked S.S. Republic.  Cargo, loosened by storms, end up on shores and that is exactly how a bottle, my bottle,  that could possibly be around 100 years old, was recently found on the coast of the southeastern Yucatan Peninsula.

 

 

The Crafty Beachcomber

I’m combining forces with this blog and my new Facebook page, “Crafty Beachcomber“.

For the past few years you’ve been reading of my adventures along the Gulf Coast and other beachy places I’ve visited and lived. I have written about hurricanes, salt water fish tanks, “Beggar” the Dolphin from Sarasota, sea glass hunting in Hawaii, giant Lego washing ashore on Siesta Key and more.  Now I want you to enjoy the projects I’m constructing with my beach finds. I will post them through this blog as well as keep up the usual coastal stories. Hopefully you’ll learn how to make a few things with your beach finds or maybe you can send me a note to share with my readers about what you make.

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If you aren’t already a subscriber to this blog, please sign up to follow it.  Find Crafty Beachcomber on Facebook and LIKE the page.  I also have an Etsy store, The Crafty Beachcomber, that I hope you visit.

Thanks for joining me and I look forward to entertaining you with my coastal addiction.

Rules of Beachcombing

I’m heading to Hawaii in a few days. I’m excited to see the state but equally excited to go beachcombing. I’m concerned though that whatever I might find (glass, shells, etc) won’t be able to make it home with me. There are laws in coastal states regarding what you can take. Here’s the run down:

In Hawaii, you need a permit if you want to take specimens for a reef tank or education.   Without a permit you are forbidden to take Stoney Coral, live rocks, Pink Coral, Gold Coral from the waters of Hawaii.

“Chapter 171.58.5 of Hawai`i Revised Statutes states:

Prohibitions. The mining or taking of sand, dead coral or coral rubble, rocks, soil or other marine deposits seaward from the shoreline is prohibited with the following exceptions:(1) The taking from seaward of the shoreline of such materials, not in excess of one gallon per person per day for reasonable, personal, noncommercial use;

The other three exceptions are to allow replenishment or protection of public shoreline areas, clearing of stream mouths, and cleaning of areas seaward of the shoreline for state or county maintenance.

Taking of sand on a regular basis for use as a product for sale would be considered as constituting a commercial use, which is not permissible.”

Action Sports Maui.com states that it’s best to leave chunks of coral and shells on the beach. They say that since the beach is made of crushed coral and shells, leaving them there will promote further beach enhancement. That’s sound environmental thinking. They did suggest that if you do find that special shell, as long as there is not a live creature inside, take it. I have not found any laws against beachcombing other than coral, rocks and soil and since my main interest is sea glass, I think I’m safe there.

Collecting live specimens on most beaches in America is prohibited by law but in some cases hard to manage the law so items do “walk” off the beaches and into peoples homes, schools, and the suitcases in your car’s trunk.   I had an uninvited live specimen one day from Turtle Beach in FL.  It was quite stinky but made for a great story.

The sand bars off Siesta Key, FL, are a great place to find sand dollars.  I have hundreds of white sand dollar tests.  We found a family, one day, collecting live ones and displaying them on the beach along the wrack line.  Consequently, the sand dollars were dying.  A passerby hastily began throwing them back in the water, while scolding this family.  A few sand dollars had already died.  I was interested in the event and took a few trying to revive them but they were not moving even one fine spine.  Being a 4H leader, I knew at this point it was ok to take these specimens.  I have three of them from that day that I’ve used for education in 4H, science lessons, art lessons and marine biology.  I donated one to a nature center in Alabama. Children are fascinated that sand dollars aren’t originally white (they are green and furry) and that the white part is really the skeleton or test of a living creature.  I use this story to promote conservation.

Visitors to Florida beaches (non-residents) must have a fishing license before collecting live specimens.  You can take up to 20  invertibrates per person per day.  There is a limit on things you can take, for instance, it is unlawful to possess Fan Corals, Hard Corals, Fire Corals, Black Coral, FL Queen Conch, Bahama Starfish and Longspine Urchin except with a permit from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. You cannot harvest live rock in FL State waters.  But, there are great shells along the Florida coast from the west to the east and the Keys; Sanibel Island being the best known for shelling.  Do take and enjoy what you find but remember to check for the live creature inside.  If it’s there, throw it back.  You will find another shell like it.

Regardless of where you are traveling, even to your own local beach, find out the laws.  When in doubt, check with your hotel (stateside or abroad) or the local Fish & Wildlife office in the state you are visiting.

Shipwrecks dot the oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, most notably around North Carolina and in the Carribbean.  The Outerbanks and Florida Keys are great places to find old items washed up after storms.  These could be from shipwrecks or remnants of someones house once destroyed by a hurricane.  I didn’t find any laws regarding shipwreck finds from the various coastal states.  Grab a shovel and a metal detector if you plan to hunt for treasure.

In other countries, items from shipwrecks washing ashore may have to stay in that country.  Take Belize, for example.  A friend, whose family lives there, was telling me of antique glass bottles that wash ashore supposedly from one of the many shipwrecks (they are from the late 1800s, early 1900s).  Her family has found other relics that they keep around their home.  They’d be thrown in jail or heavily fined if caught with any of these items in their luggage on a plane leaving the country so if you find any, leave them.  Most shells aren’t allowed out of the country either. Be sure to check local laws.  A vacation is nice, but an extended one in jail is not.

Since I live in Alabama, I can’t leave out our beachcombing and shelling laws.  I really can’t find any.  So take what you find except for live critters.  Many homes were carried out to sea in the last 6 to 7 years from hurricanes.  Some items are finding their way onto our shore.  Keep your eyes open.

In Texas, Galveston is said to be “The” place to beachcomb.  And, I read where the Fish and Wildlife people have stated the Gulf of Mexico beaches are the best in the country for shelling. I’ve been to Sanibel and was not disappointed.  Venice Beach, FL is great for fossils and shark teeth, Turtle Beach, FL, at what used to be Midnight Pass, is excellent also.

So, all of the laws I’ve found regarding beachcombing have pertained to specimen collecting.  There seem to be no shells that are so “rare” that you can’t take them, but even so it would be hard to enforce.  There is one place that enforcement, I’m told, is active and that is Glass Beach, California. The beach is property of the California State Park system and the taking of glass is prohibited.  The area was once a dumping ground for Ft. Bragg residents.  Fires were occasionally set to minimize the trash.  Years of surf pounding has broken up the remaining trash the beach is a beautiful collection of colored glass.  There are other trash items on this beach so wear sturdy shoes and keep a 1st Aid kit in case you cut yourself and leave the sea glass there.

Hawaii has a Glass Beach, too.  It’s on Kauai.  I doubt I’ll get there since we’re going to Oahu but I have read that sea glass hunting on Waikiki Beach is awesome.  I’ll find out soon and now that I know the laws, I will be bringing some home.

Flotsam and Jetsam

I just finished reading “Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam” by Skye Moody. 

One of my favorite things to do is walk the beach to find unusual items that have washed up.  I have collected, from along the Gulf Coast, the usual sea beans, shells, drift wood, sponges and other sea critters.  I have a great collection of shark teeth, fish bones and sea glass.  Last year I found a piece of broken china with a crown stamp on the back, and a piece of fired pottery.  And just last week in Palm Beach I collected a toy scuba diver, the handle of a broken oar, a ball of carnauba wax and blisterpod and cocoplum seeds.  What I left behind amounted to some rope, part of a plastic toy car and 5 feet of worn, hollow bamboo.   This book was right up my alley.

In case you’re wondering, flotsam is basically the wreckage and the cargo from the wrecked ship that floats on the surface of the sea.  Jetsam is the stuff thrown overboard to lighted the vessel.  Ocean storms are responsible for a lot of the flotsam and jetsam.  During rough seas, cargo boxes from shipping vessels can fall overboard, break open and then you’ve got items such as Nike shoes, Lego building blocks, furniture floating around the ocean currents.  This stuff can get caught in the current and circle the ocean several times or end up on the nearest coast.   Things that sink and need a scuba diver to retrieve is called lagan.  I suppose wreckage from hurricanes can count as flotsam, unless it sinks.  I’ve never encountered a furious hurricane that allowed me to walk the beach shortly after.  I don’t know how long it takes for house parts and contents to wash up. 

The Washington and Oregon coast is a great place to beachcomb if you’re interested in collecting the unusual and Skye Moody does a great job describing what, how and why lots of things wash up along the northwestern coast.  She also spends a great deal of time describing the history of flotsam with legends and native tales of superstition and gods.  She chronicles shipwrecks and messages in bottles, rubber ducks, flotsam and density, Japanese fishing floats, ambergris and beach whistles.  There is an interesting section on the Great Garbage Patch.

Even if you’re not a beachcomber, this book makes a great read.  You never know what you’ll learn about our oceans, our beaches and why people collect things.

More Bones on the Beach

Oh, I laughed so hard last night.  My husband enjoyed the joke, too.

As you probably know from previous posts, I enjoy beachcombing and picking up nearly anything on the beach from shells, egg cases, corals, surf-beaten toys that we’re left behind, and bones.

Well, I had been on the beach earlier and came home with a handful of bones.  Some I recognized as bird bones, and a few fish bones but there are some that look like either a bird’s coracoid or the tarsometatarsus.  I keep finding them and probably have about a dozen to date.  I had googled bird skeletons trying to figure this one out.  But as I was looking through one of my favorite books, “Florida’s Living Beaches” by Blair and Dawn Witherington, I saw a picture of these particular bones.  So there I read to my husband from page 202: ” Pigs have their feet used as bait in stone crab traps.  Most of these remains are fingerlike and stout (figure O [which was identical to the dozen bones I’ve collected with wonder]).  These pig’s knuckles are common on many southwestern Florida beaches.”

I laughed so hard I was crying.  My prized, yet mysterious beach find was nothing more than pig’s knuckles.