Hundreds of authentic Japanese glass fishing floats have been released off the coast with the goal of providing attendees of the 57th annual Grayland Driftwood Show a shot at finding one.
“We want Westport, as Washington’s original beach town, to have the first and only real float event that gets people onto the beaches like the old days and take home a real float,” said John Shaw, executive director of the Westport South Beach Historical Society.
The 450 Japanese floats, all recovered after the 2011 tsunami and imported by the Westport Maritime Museum, were released several times during the past week at various locations along the coast. Some have already been found.
”We see so many visitors and families that engage in our beachcombing displays and stories, the tradition of finding a real float, and the nostalgia of classic beachcombing memories,” said Shaw. “We have worked out with some experts, Alan Rammer and (oceanographer) Curt Ebbesmeyer, some strategies to get the bulk of the floats to land across a short window on the South Beaches during spring break and leading into the Driftwood Show. This will be adjusted to weather, tides and conditions.”
The floats are each etched with a number. The time and location of each release group are recorded. Beachcombers are encouraged to report their finds to the Maritime Museum so that the number can be recorded and a certificate of beginning location can be issued. And it is literally “finders keepers”: Those who are lucky enough to find floats get to take them home.
“We as the Maritime Museum record the findings along with tide and weather and timing information,” said Shaw. It’s a good way to track coastal currents and the movement of flotsam — debris floating in the ocean.
The bulk of the floats released are grapefruit-size, but there are a few premium and netted floats out there as well.
Funding for this event comes from the City of Westport’s lodging tax tourism funds.