Saturday, May 30, 2015
Finding Treasure and the feel of greed
It's early morning with the tide out as I walk along a dark, black/grey, sandy beach. The sea is almost calm but the slight swell undulates the waters edge in a way that reminds me of the way women run their fingers through their hair, going in and then out ever so slowly.
Our place "Tight Spot" today
This vision, along with the crowing of roosters and the never ending pulsating movement of the shoreline, enhances the early morning coolness of this secret beach. You see I'am not here today to just enjoy my surroundings, I'am here to look for and collect treasure.
Lots of it.
I have been sailing the worlds oceans since I was a kid, having grown up on a sailboat from the 60's to today. During this time period of cruising about the Pacific and Atlantics waters I have had the good fortune to have had a good vessel to carry me and my crew to many great and wonderful beaches with shore lines where treasure could be found. To be a successful treasure hunter you need a good like minded crew, and a boat that can carry your loot back home.
I found my first real piece of treasure at the age of 3 in 1960 on the beach in Mission Bay in San Diego, California. It was a dead crab Skelton. Since that first find I have been an inveterent beach comber, Treasure Hunter. Growing up on a sailboat sailing off to distant islands and country's brought me to many fantastic beaches, shorelines, hidden coves, shallow reefs with myriad pieces of beach finds to be had.
I have nurtured and refined this passion for found objects into an art form by literally turning beach finds into art that I create. Over the years my crew and I have sailed thousands of miles across oceans collecting, shorting and stowing our finds with it all eventually ending up at our home base in the Bahamas where we use it in decorating our house and property or turning it into art that we sell to finace future voyages. At least 15 tons to date have been collected from the shorelines, stowed aboard and then maybe a year or two later when we return from a sailing cruise it is unloaded to await the next leg in its life.
This morning, bent over walking along zig zagging between the low tide line and last nights upper reaches of the waters edge, finds me picking up jewels. They are everywhere. It's like Montazuma, King Soloman, and Drake used to vacation here and they just dumped their treasures on the shoreline.
I have not discovered treasure like this in a long time. My pulse is flowing as I pick up each piece that has been tossing about for untold years being polished and formed into its unique shape and color.
In no time I have collected a bucket full of century's old sea glass that used to be glass bottles that held wine, rum, perfumes, medicine, and poison. The really black pieces are the oldest, maybe 180 plus years. The blues, ambers, light pinks, greys, greens and reds all tell a story from the past. I pour the bucket into our dinghy carefully and go back for more.
The day before found Rachel, my wife, and I along with cruising friends Tim and Gayle Evans of the ketch Wild Bird were playing with our dogs along this stretch of beach. I was collecting very old bricks that had been rolling back and forth in the surf line, slowly caressed and at times pummelled into an oval rounded smooth shape by the never ending relentless surf. These bricks find their way to the ocean by way of hurricanes, old battles and simply just being thrown into the sea. I like the human connection of the sea bricks. These I would carry back home to be used in concrete foot paths in our home base in the Bahamas. I have collected beach stones throughout the North Atlantic basin from beaches and shorelines from where all the great explorers have come and gone from as they went about their lives. On one Atlantic trip we returned to our place with over a ton of these stones we found and collected from the islands of the Azores, Madeiras, Canaries, Cape Verdes, through the West Indies and back to the Bahamas. We built our small place in the Bahamas to be our base to offload all our beach finds. A place to stow, exhibit, and use our treasures. We call our land base "Tight Spot" as it has water on three sides. The land our two houses are built on is 152' long and 31' wide. We think of it as our land Yacht with the west side, that is the Starboard side, being tied to our neighbours lands. From a life time of beach combing and collecting we can say we have a piece of most all islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic waters at our place. "yeah , St. Bart's over there, granite stones from Denmark over there" and so on.
As the four of us walked along the beach I started finding bits of sea glass, then lots of it. I had never seen so much such thick beautifully sculpted pieces. We all started picking them up off the sand. Later that evening Tim came over to our sailboat with his iPhone and Internet access to show us that the totally black pieces we had found were very rare and old. We also could see all the web sites for selling sea glass and jewelry made from and with sea glass for sale. Some raw pieces were for sale on eBay for twenty dollars. Nice jewelry was selling in the hundreds. It was getting dark. I planned on being on the beach early. That night I had visions as I dreamed of making a huge seaglass chandelier for our small house, seaglass stepping stones, jewelry, necklases, and to get as much as I could I would use a huge barge with a JCB backhoe to dig up the entire beach. Oh the treasure to be found. So much loot just lay there waiting all these years to be had. This was the first time in my life I felt greed creeping into my soul.
Over the next several days the four of us collected seaglass. Tim and Gayle had caught the fever too.
But not like me. I kept finding myself looking down as I walked everywhere, looking for a really perfect piece. I swam with a snorkel and mask along the shoreline in the gentle surf picking the pieces out of the shifting sands, beach pebbles, and stones like brightly painted Easter eggs off the grass. It was so easy and so much fun. I could not stop. How much did I really need? I wanted it all.
I looked online to research seaglass. So much information! What all the seaglass people were promoting was that Daimonds are made by nature and then crafted by man, but seaglass is made by man and then crafted by nature. Excellent marketing. Quickly I came to realize that to sell seaglass I would have to be a very creative jeweler, and make some very unique pieces of art to make money. This I will do.
I have happily gotten over my greed. But not totally. I want to go back and anchor at this beach again for a few more days collecting as you never know what might come rolling out of the surf. Plus this place is so good the four of us have taken an oath not to share its location. But if you see the Hogfish Maximuis anchored close to a beautiful beach and I'am ashore hunched over walking slowly with a bucket in my hand then go get yours and we can compare finds at dusk.
A jewel sits waiting to be found
Walking the beach looking
Treasures in between the stones
The first haul of loot
Diving up more loot
A days treasure hunting finds
Bottle bottoms, stoppers and nice big thick seaglass
So many colours in Rachel's sample
Another pile, the blue chunks turn dark green when put to the light
In seaglass lingo they call the outer worn surface " frosting"
Where do I store my treasure till I get home? In modern day sea plastic
Found on the beach of course
Rocks drying off before storing in Madiera
A nice haul of beach finds from about the Atlantic islands