Ocean Treasures

My 99 cent e-book special is still on until Monday, April 1. Please find it on the previous post. Be sure to look there for the coupon code. You need it to get the discount.

And now, for Ocean Treasures:

For the men and women who go commercial fishing and endure the harshest of weather and sea conditions, there have to be reasons besides earning a living that make the lifestyle worthwhile. On the plus side, life on the sea has many beautiful moments. Having pigeon guillemots land on your boat to entertain you is one such moment. One of many others is the discovery of little treasures that float by on the tide.

For many years, the Japanese fishing fleet attached glass balls to their nets to keep them from sinking to the bottom. Often the nets were connected into huge combinations of netting that sometimes broke away and drifted unattended, harming many birds, fish, and sea mammals. But this aspect is another issue for another day. Once a net is lost, or broken up it can drift for a long time until the glass balls come loose and float away without the net. The floats drift for thousands of miles across the Pacific, and often for many years, before coming close to shore. Sometimes that shore is not the country of origin. Fishermen of the north coast of British Columbia have found all sizes, shapes, and colours of  glass floats that originated in Asia.

One of the most beautiful glass floats my husband has found was floating by his troller on the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. It was partly covered with gooseneck barnacles that would have looked very decorative if left on the net webbing that encased the float, but once out of the water, they would have died and become quite hummy. What to do? Make lunch, of course. While they were still fresh, he steamed them up and had a good feed of gooseneck barnacles, a delicacy.

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Over the years we have found many interesting “treasures” on the beach or floating past the boat. A huge piece of bamboo floated ashore one day – a 12-foot-long pole about five inches in diameter. It has been sitting in our yard for 30 years still waiting to be used in an original way. Coconuts have washed up on the beaches of the Queen Charlotte Islands, hoping in vain to find warmer sprouting weather.

One day we walked along the beach and found a heavy rubber glove sticking out of the sand as if to suggest that the rest of the man were buried there. A short distance away, lay his white plastic helmet. We wondered what might have happened to the fisherman. About twenty feet farther along, we found the answer – an empty bottle of Japanese Suntory whiskey.

Once when I was deckhanding, the skipper (my husband) spotted four sticks floating vertically in the water up ahead of the boat. He told me to get ready with the gaff and reach out to hook whatever it was and bring it aboard. He angled the boat so the “thing” would be close to the side of the boat as we passed and I reached out as far as I dared to snag it. Neither of us had any idea what it was until we got quite close to it. I managed to get the gaff into it but when I tried to bring it aboard, there was no way I could begin to lift it. The skipper took the boat out of gear and hustled out onto the deck to help with the lifting. It took both of us to haul that floating treasure out of the water. When we turned it right-side-up on the deck it was much more recognizable. The four sticks that floated vertically were the legs of a cruise ship deck chair with European style numerals on the underside. I say European style because the 9 was made like a g. The chair was so heavy because it was waterlogged. It dripped like a rainshower as it sat on deck.

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There’s only one thing that bothers me about this chair. Since it seems to have fallen off a cruise ship and was floating upside down, I can only assume the direction its occupant must have gone. 😉  What do you think? And by the way, tell us, have you found any treasures on the beach?

21 thoughts on “Ocean Treasures

  1. How fun to read about, and see photos of your discoveries on the sea. Eating barnacles? Hmm, I have to be convinced to eat regular seafood, don’t know how I’d like barnacles. But, I’d try a bite. 🙂 I can’t imagine having to be a fisherman in the winter up there. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr and more rrrrrrrrr. 😉

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    • The gooseneck barnacle are considered especially good. If you tried a bite you’d want the whole plate, I’d bet. The salmon fishermen only fish up there in the summer months and even then the weather can be very bad. In the winter it would be suicide in those small (39 foot) boats. Thanks for visiting, Lori.

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    • It’s funny how all these years that we’ve had the chair, I imagined that someone was in the chair, but of course, 99.99% chance says there was no one in it. Still, you wonder how that chair ended up overboard. A whole book could be written about that.

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  2. All the glass floats I found on the beach on the Charlottes are now sitting in my garden. We moved them all the way to the Czech Republic. Unfortunately I´ve never found such a beautiful chair. I also wonder about the story behind this chair?

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    • You’re very lucky to have found some. I’ve never found one myself. The closest I came was to paddle up to one that was caught in a floating kelp bed and it turned out to be a light bulb.

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  3. It is like going on a treasure hunt on every fishing trip! How exciting that part of it would be…but I could do without all the hard work involved in fishing. The glass float is really beautiful, and how lucky for the skipper to have a tasty lunch brought to him. As far as the occupant of the chair goes, well perhaps he was wearing a white plastic helmet, black rubber gloves, and sipping a bottle of whiskey when a rogue wave tossed him into the sea! No, I am sure the chair has no horrific history attached to it. It is far too beautiful.

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  4. I very much enjoyed your story, some of the treasures you’ve found are amazing. I live on the coast of West Wales and have spent much of the winter walking the deserted, stormy beaches – haven’t found much, although one year we were inundated with tonnes of teak hard wood, clearly swept off the top of a cargo ship in a bad storm. Thanks!

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