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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 1:52 am | A Few Clouds and Breezy 55º


Captain’s Log: Best Beachcombing in Many Years

We finally got some heavy flows down our rivers and streams, after way too many years of low flows. This means many good things and one of those good things is awesome beachcombing opportunity.

Getting to the best spots at the prime times is a matter of planning and timing. The rewards are a wondrous booty of pretty shells, driftwood and things that make you wonder what the heck they are and where in the world did they come from.

The most enterprising beachcombers rush to the shoreline in the wake of a storm, when the high seas are still subsiding.

My own most successful seashell and driftwood hunts have been immediately after storms featuring huge swells coinciding with very high tides. That’s when the sea has the power to loosen the greatest number of shellfish and move large drifting pieces of wood onto the beaches.

Buy a tide book or look up the tides online. The best beachcombing time is well after a high tide and through the low-tide period. Generally speaking, low tide is the safest time, especially when navigating the nooks and crannies of rocky points.

I have had the best luck poking around rocky points and outcroppings for seashells. It doesn’t have to be radical points of land such as the ones up the coast from Jalama Beach, though I strongly recommend that area for beachcombing.

Some of my most treasured shells came from Santa Barbara and Goleta beaches. Summerland and Carpinteria are also great spots. Summerland has a large kelp forest just offshore. Carpinteria has a major reef zone where the surge of large swells moves a great number of shells and stones for us to find.

Driftwood tends to pile up on beaches down current from the mouths of rivers and creeks. The best waterways to look for are ones with considerable woods and brush upstream. We had enough burns during the fire season and mudslides during the rains to unearth some fascinating pieces of wood.

The runoff has been sufficient to carry large pieces downstream to the sea. The result will be lines of driftwood along the beaches at the high-water mark during the storm season.

Beachcombing can be a fun family outing or a chance for some peaceful solitude for an individual or a couple.

Beachcombing is a little like going to garage sales ... the early browsers get the best booty. Bundle up after a storm and get there early.

Just remember how potentially dangerous the sea can be. When the tide comes in, take care not to get trapped someplace where the big waves can reach you. Also, be watchful for large waves. They can sweep dry ground and pull a grown person to sea. Be careful out there!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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