Beachcombing Tips from an Expert

You never know what you'll find during a stroll down the shore. Almost every community in Newfoundland and Labrador is beside a body of water, and most of us have combed the beaches at least once in our lives. For some it's just something to do down by the water, but for others it’s a lifetime passion.

"It makes me feel happy and thankful," says Deacon Ritterbush, author of A Beach Comber's Odyssey. "It reminds me that all the niggling problems in life are just that, and I will survive them."

The American writer and anthropologist grew up on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and her parents are both from the eastern seaboard. She's been collecting interesting artifacts all her life.

"I can’t remember when I never did it," she says. "It was a family activity on our long stretches of beach."

From a lifetime of painstakingly examining shorelines for treasure, Deacon has discovered several situations that will raise the probability of bringing something interesting home from the beach. Here are three things to look for:

Beaches downstream from major population centres are good places to find objects washed up on shore, especially if people have lived there for hundreds of years.

The best time to beachcomb is two hours before low tide and two hours after, according to Deacon. (You can check tide times for your region on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website.)

High winds and waves reveal a lot of beach items, so heading down to the beach after a big storm could pay off big time. "A lot of the things you see on the beach weren't washed up; they were exposed," says Deacon. "It's been in the sand and the waves take off the layer that’s covering it."