Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Exotic driftwoods .

On the Thanet coast where I live at certain times of the year in certain weather conditions there is an abundance of driftwood ashore. I do find it a strange phenomenon in as far as that in some cases the wood is of a tropical origin especially during the winter gale period. The origin is unclear but given the types of wood found I can only assume the origin has to be of a groyne or pier construction. Insofar as that some of the driftwoods found are Greenheart, Teak, Ekki and Iroko, woods renowned for their incredible strength and resilience in a marine environment. Logistically the larger pieces are impossible to retrieve given the size , the weight and location on the coast. However, there are many smaller pieces to be found that can be utilised.
The exotic driftwoods however do have limited uses given the time they have been in the sea and the way the wood has been weathered. I have found that selected pieces can be turned to create items with a stunning effect. I am not a wood turner so I tend to give selected pieces away for turning of which I have some of the items made. I have also made driftwood available for carving but I am waiting on the results.To add to the provenance of the driftwood found and the items made, I GPS each piece I find ashore at Sandwich Bay, Pegwell Bay and Ramsgate .
Everything is a learning curve and there is no manual as what to do with exoctic driftwood found ashore that have been in the sea for many decades. By trial and error I have worked out a system of grading and drying the driftwood woods that seems to work.
Of the more softer hardwoods found ashore there is also african mahogany used for boat building with walnut and oak used for both boat building and other uses. I do like the oak found ashore that has been in contact with a steel bolt that has rusted in the marine environment as the reaction with the oak has does cause the oak to ebonise. This makes the oak very attractive in the artistic sense. On another point in many cases oak and walnut have been attacked by worm making each piece unique.

I have posted examples from my wood  wood archive of items found and made.


Lump of oak found ashore , note the iron staining.
Piece of oak from groyne construction, note the dark areas where the wood has ebonised in contact with iron.

A bowl made from the above that has ebonised. The hole is the original bolt hole.

Egg cup made from this piece of driftwood as seen on the left. I am not sure what this wood actually is.

A pen made from Ekki with a wood sample. Origin of the wood was the construction of the new groynes at Kingsdown in 2016. The original large piece found was at Sandwich bay at the Deal end.

Greenheart ashore on the shingle at Sandwich Bay (Deal end)

A pen made from the greenheart it rest against.

Three pens made from a small piece of African mahogany.

A block of greenheart ashore Sandwich Bay mid.

Wood drying out and cut to prevent  further splitting, it is all ready for turning. 

Greenheart ashore on the shingle at Sandwich Bay.

Walnut ashore
Oak rib from an old shipwreck , this piece was far too big and heavy to do anything with and was left as found. the tide soon took it back out to sea a few tides later.

Pieces of oak ashore from the demolition of the kingsdown groynes during the second half of 2015.



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Monday, 25 September 2017

Cetacean collection - Monkton nature reserve natural history collection.

Earlier on this year I made the decision to hand in my endangered species licence issued by Natural England. It was really down to the fact that I could not see the purpose of building up a private collection of cetacean specimen samples deriving from cetacean strandings along the Thanet coast. Only then to store my collection in boxes for me to see.
So after making enquiries with the Monkton Nature Reserve they agreed to take my entire collection for their Museum. The collection includes bone sample from the Sperm Whale stranding at Pegwell Bay March 2011. The Fin Whale stranding at Foreness Point Cliftonville (autumn 2015) including Baleen plates and bone samples from the many recent Porpoise strandings at Sandwich Bay. For good measure they even took the common seal bones I found in the Stour Estuary.
 I am not sorry to see the collection go , in fact I am pleased because it is my contribution to recording the natural history and ecology of the Thanet coast something that underestimated.

Also I should mention they also accepted my entire collection of sea shells from the sandwich flats. That included wedge shells, necklace shells, spindle whelks, scallops and cowries.

Baleen plate from the Fin Whale stranding at Foreness Point in the autumn of 2015.
Porpoise vertebrae recovered from a carcase that had been  ravaged by common seals in the entrance of the River Stour at Pegwell Bay. 

An update on the Sandwich Flats B17 G 42 -31243 303rd bomb group ditched 01.12.1943

Sandwich Flats B17 G 42 -31243 303rd bomb group 427th bomb squadron ditched 1st December 1943.

25th September 2017
So far since February this year not many items have come ashore from the site of the B17. The wings are now deteriorating to such a point that the outer skin just flakes away. Same applies to the corrugated inner wing panel, as that is also breaking away in the tide. This is now exposing the fuel pipes and tanks.


In January this year parts of the right stabiliser came ashore. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and was able to retrieve parts that had come ashore. Once the wreckage is ashore away from the wreck site I can legally take them as they are classed as surface wreckage as long as I take them to a museum of which I did. Fortunately I was able to take them direct to the RAF Manston history museum where they were conserved immediately. It has taken a bit of time, as the B17 parts are now on display at the RAF Manston History museum. To date I have lost count of what I have found from the B17 at Sandwich Bay, but please be rest assured as every single piece is now with the Manston Museum conserving the B17 legacy.

Some of the pieces of the B17 flying fortress on display at the RAF Manston history museum found ashore at Sandwich Bay in a 12 month period between February 2016 and February 2017

Margate in fragments - Paddle steamer shards

The history of the Thames paddle steamers  on the Margate run is well documented to the finest detail. So anything that can be added to the history of the paddle steamers is always welcome, I am sure.
This summer at Margate there has been a remarkable amount of shards found around the Nayland rock area by group members of the Facebook Thanet and Sandwich coastal finds group. Among the finds have been paddle steamer shards bearing the motifs of the New Palace Steamers and General Steam Navigation Company that used the pier. The explanation for the finds is the effects of the longshore drift after the demolition of Margate pier in 1998. I have posted a few images from the group pages.










Sunday, 24 September 2017

Thanet and Sandwich coastal finds.

In recent years there has been a lot of active beach-combing  in the Thanet area around  Margate to Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Sandwich. The finds have been astonishing , especially at Margate where items  originating from the Victorian and Edwardian Thames paddle  are often found with frequent occurrence. Beach-combing for historic items  has now become a very popular pastime in the area with many good finds being recorded.
On facebook , a group has now been set up by the Thanet beach-combing community dedicated to these finds  from the coastal area. Some group members have even built up large collections of beach-combed items.

 The group is known on facebook as the Thanet and Sandwich coastal finds , the group is easy to join and gives regular updates on coastal activity and finds from the southeast corner of the english coast.

Pewter tankard found at Margate on the Nayland rock found by Stephen Harrild,

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Thanet coast - Sealink ferries and beach plastic.

 Sealink cross channel ferries that operated from Dover ceased to be in 1984. The company may have been and gone but the legacy of marine debris that originates from the cross channel ferry trade still continues to haunt us. Over the past month or so three identical plastic items from over 32 years ago have appeared on the north Thanet coastline. Two were found at Margate and the other further along the coast at Grenham Bay Birchington . The origin being Sealink ferries.
 Beach plastic is now opening another chapter in coastal history as items going back to the 1970's are now being reported as found. The finds may be interesting but they really do raise environmental concerns.

Found by Tony Ovenden Margate main sands

Found by NEKMPA coastal warden Terry Wilson Grenham Bay Birchington.

Found by Margate mudlark Frank Leppard on the Nayland rock Margate.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Sandwich Bay shipwrecks - Teredo navalis

The location of the five shipwrecks on the Sandwich flats is no big secret as they can be easily seen from the shore All that remains are the ribs and some planking. The ends of the ribs have suffered badly from the wood boring bivalve known as the Teredo worm (Teredo navalis). Occasionally wood from these wreck sites break away and are found ashore and many are good examples of Teredo worm infestation. This example of a oak rib I found a few months ago has now dried out and I have cut sections of if. It can be very decorative  and does some natural artistic appeal.


I have cut this cube of infested oak as an specimen sample.