Trashy Day at Salmon Creek

Today was a lovely day between rain storms. A quick call to my friend Jeff and we decided to meet up at Salmon Creek Beach South to pick trash for a couple of hours. When we arrived at 13:30 it was calm with a misty sun, high tide was at 14:00, about 4 feet, which isn’t too bad for this beach. The weather service had warnings about high surf.

The object of the trashy beach day is to get as much man-made stuff off the beach and into the land fill as possible. I’ve been going out to Salmon Creek Beach south at least once a month for the last 18 months. I’m lucky I live close, I love the ocean, and I could combine those two things with a good deed by picking trash as well. It is great exercise and I understand one gets benefits from negative ions as well.

A day’s haul vary depending on the time of year and the weather. In November, I had a couple of sessions where I would pick my way south from Salmon Creek parking lot to the Sonoma Beach Dunes state park’s wheel-chair access and pull in 20 pounds. I can then drag that up the ramp to the trash cans and dump it, then make my way back up the beach to the parking lot and dump another 4 or 5 pounds.
One of those days, the 20 pounds consisted of a couple of boat bumpers, a large tangle of crab pot ropes, and an unusual amount of beer and wine bottles. It gets heavy and I let my canvas bag drag on the sand, which leaves a clear marker of my progress.

Today’s trash was different. We’ve had a series of very high “king” tides (above 6 feet) and heavy surf due to this year’s winter storms. Much of the “normal” junk, left behind beer bottles, food containers, condoms, used diapers, etc., which are found when the weather is nice, are a smaller part of the heavy weather haul. A lot fewer recreational outings, fewer families, less beer drinking and thus, less of the common household trash.

Today there were lots of little pieces of Styrofoam, other pieces of sea weathered plastics and a couple of large pieces of foam insulation. We recycled 3 plastic drink bottles and hauled off one half used spray paint can, but most the rest was tiny pieces, many smaller than a penny. That is a lot of repetitive motion with our “grip and grab” hand pincers, picking the bit then putting into the bag before it blows away. We estimate today’s haul at 5 pounds each.

The tangles left at the high tide are interesting to pick over, once in a while you find a treasure. I found two green plastic toy soldiers, a plastic sea horse (quite ugly), a toy truck tire, a gerber multi-tool with saws, pliers, blades galore which must have been dropped as it showed no signs of being in the sea.

Saga of the Verna A II
Speaking of weird trash, this PRESS DEMOCRAT story first listed the Verna A II in the Sept. 11th, 2016 edition. When it first ran, it was hard to understand how a boat could be on the beach at Salmon Creek. A week later, I went out to pick trash and saw the boat as show in the photo below:

Verna A II, Sept 27, 2016
My telling of the story goes like this: it seems the captain was on hard times and left Fort Bragg in Mendocino county one day in early September. As he drifted south along the coast, he had a few drinks too many and went to sleep, thinking that he was far enough out to drift peacefully. He awoke when the boat became stuck in the surf. He was rescued, then tried to escape and was caught. He has no insurance and no one will take the risk to salvage the boat.

After a six months on the beach, the Verna A II has been reduced to a hull. Most of the batteries, fuel, and other fluids were taken off and she slowly succumbed to the constant pounding of the surf.
Verna A II, Feb 16, 2017

In this photo from Feb 16th, shows how far gone she is. When her house came off, I started to see lots and lots of insulation, wires, painted wood and other debris scattered south from the wreck. Now, much of that is gone, we picked up a lot of it, but the rest was taken out to sea. It won’t be long until she’s completely pounded to rust.

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