Dear Crabby: Advice from the beach

dear crabby beachcombing advice

If a piece of sea glass rolls up right in front of two beachcombers at the same time, is it ok to grab it?

The worst thing that could happen is you act like my oldest son’s Little League baseball team and you both just watch it roll by and then watch the next wave take it back out, never to be seen again. Second worst is acting like my younger son’s Little League team who turned going after the ball into a tackle-your-own-teammate-to-get-it sport. The answer to this one is going to depend on whether you want to be friends with the other person after today. Pro tip: Don’t shove over any little kids to get a piece of glass. This is considered very bad form.

Someone finds something on the beach and exclaims excitedly about how they have just found the missing item on their bucket list. You look and see they’ve misidentified it. Do you correct them?

You don’t have to tell someone that the wine glass stem they found isn’t a stopper or the ancient coin they dug up isn’t pirate gold. Let them have their moment. Just tell them not to sell it. If they do try to bring home the stinky blob that they are sure is a priceless hunk of ambergris in your car, you may want to burst their bubble on that one.

Is it ok to do a dance/scream/etc. if you find something awesome on the beach?

Yes, but be prepared for no one else to be as happy for you as you are.

Should you carry a see-through bag while beachcombing?

If your goal is to show off how much you’ve found and invite comments on your treasures, sure, go ahead. If you want to make sure no one knows how good the hunting is on your beach, for Poseidon’s sake, cover that up!

Is it ok to ask someone where their best beachcombing spot is?

Well, you can ask, but don’t expect an answer! Many beachcombers are happy to share the location of their beach with you, but some guard the locations of their beach like a state secret. If you get an answer like, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” you’re probably not going to find out where they get their treasures. If you’re the one getting asked where you get your great finds, feel free to answer with a vague, “At the beach.” You don’t have to kiss and tell, especially if the beach you’re visiting is a private beach or somewhere that collecting is prohibited. But, many people will gladly share their favorite spots with fellow beachcombers, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Should you bring someone a gift if they take you to their beach?

If there’s something unique you find on your beach, it’s fun to share a few pieces with your host. Or, consider just giving them one of your nicer finds from the day you spend with them. Just don’t feel like you have to give them that junonia shell or antique German marble you just found!

Should you tell someone to throw back their sharp-edged sea glass?

Everyone has a different idea of what makes a piece of beach glass beautiful. Some beaches only give up partially frosted glass, so what you might consider shanky might be a great find for them! One merman’s trash…

What if your travel buddy doesn’t want to spend as much time as you on the beach?

This is something you should definitely figure out before you set off on a weeklong trip. Do a few beachcombing days before you leave, if you can. If your ideal trip involves hitting both low tides every day (and night!) or sunrise to sunset days on the beach, and your friend can only take the beach for a few hours, you’ll either have to compromise, or find a new friend! Like dogs? They’ll hang out at the beach until you force them to leave!  

Etiquette, manners, tips, and tricks

More answers to your burning questions about beachcombing manners, tips and tricks, and more. 

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This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine September/October 2019 issue.

No live shelling: Be sure shells are empty and sand dollars, sea stars, and sea urchins are no longer alive before you bring them home.

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