Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, May 01, 2007: What a chunk of wood!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007: Real nice day – despite my being stuck behind a desk slaving away to get you your bleedin’ SandPaper out there. Just kidding. It’s my pleasure to put out the Island’s favorite reading material.

Quite a few surfcasters and boat anglers out there, per my quick looks at the beachfront and listening in to radio chatter. I don’t want to jinx it but it sure looks like it’s building toward a really fine bass spring – and also a fine bluefish spring, if you like that sorta thing. Bluefish are popping up all over. There are very few herring liveliners thrilled by this invasion.

I had a couple reports of major weakfish being caught – even in the daytime. South end had 10-pounders a-cruise. Method of taking included plastics, sheddar chunks and even a top tiderunner caught on a herring (not that unusual). The night action on big sparklers has been a bit dim – thanks to half-assed DOT maintenance crews. Here’s an indicative email (one of many on the subject of bridge blackouts): “Jay, can you touch bases with your contacts possible at the state level to get the lights repaired. Now even the channel lights under the bridge are out. While boating there it could be very dangerous if your not familiar with the area. I have called the state to report the problem but they have yet to fix the lights … fishing has gone down in that area since the lights no longer work. Mike.” I have contacted them and there is a load of fixin’ about to take place at all the bridges.
Running late with the paper but wanted to mention the damn-impressive light sow given by the northern skies to night. That’s the type lighting you usually see after a 100-degree day in July.

ODD TALE OF TREASURE FOUND: This story will be written up in The SandPaper this week. Thanks to MY neighbor buddy Bill for first getting me word about this amazing FIND. Here’s the encapsulated version of a truly fascinating beach-find tale.
The Tom Kelly family, drugstore owners (including Kapler’s Drugstore in Beach Haven), was walking the beach a few months back. Tom caught sight of an odd looking wooden form hung up on a Queen City jetty. It looked something like a boat hull, albeit an odd – and seemingly old – hull, seemingly crafted from a single tree.
Whatever it was, Tom thought it looked seriously salvageable so he and his son dragged in the waterlogged nine-foot piece of shaped wood, hurting his back in the process. Intent on hauling home his find, Tom called a friend – Jamie C. of Under the Mistletoe fame – to get the hull back to it into his yard.
With his find under a tarp in his backyard, Tom forged ahead with his effort to identify the object, contacting local specialists, including shipwreck expert Deb Whitcraft,. He was directed to a Monmouth County professor, William Schindler, an archeologist and primitive technologist.
Explaining his find to the prof, Tom forwarded enough detailed info to perk the expert’s interest. Schindler drove down to the Island and soon espied far more than he expected. Before him, within the chunk of salvaged wood, was both history made and history in the making.
Tom’s find was part of a prehistoric hand-hewn Amerindian canoe, one of the finest examples anywhere.
A piece of the canoe – a small chunk that had fallen off -- was sent to carbon-dating expert in Florida. Within weeks the findings were in and the scope of Tom’s discovery expanded.
Here, I’ll steal a teaser paragraph from SP writer Victoria Ford, who picked up the story and ran with it.
“A hand-carved canoe that washed up on the Chatsworth Avenue jetty in Beach Haven in February has been determined by an archaeologist to be one of the oldest canoes, if not the oldest, ever discovered in New Jersey. A carbon-dating analysis placed the artifact’s origin, with 98 percent reliability, between 140 and 410 A.D., making it somewhere between 1,597 and 1,867 years old.”
The canoe is now immersed, literally, in a two-year desalination process, during which it sits in water that has the salinity decreased slowly. This procedure, made famous by underwater archeologists, leads to a removal of the salt. Salt, as it dries, can do hideous damage to old wood, as it crystallizes and expands in virtually every cell of the wood.
Once desalinated, the hull will undergo a soaking in polyethylene glycol. Why do that? Here’s part of an archeological report: “The excessive cracking and distortion that old waterlogged wood undergoes when it is dried can be substantially reduced by treating the wood with polyethylene glycol. The process was used to dry 200-year-old waterlogged wood boats recently raised from Lake George, New York.”
Once the three-year (or more) preservation process is completed, the prehistoric canoe will be fully preserved and ready for the world to see. However, where this piece ends up, exactly, is up to the owner – who is actually putting a pretty penny into the arduous preservation process.
Being a treasure hunter, I both look at the societal significance of the piece AND it’s worldly worth. I mentioned it cost a pretty penny to preserve the piece, well, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it is worth a far prettier penny when preserved and open for bids.
You know as well as me where the thing came from. The dredging off Surf City. End of debate, as far as I’m concerned.
Point of Interest: That had to have been a rocky six mile wash from the dredge area to Beach Haven. How many beachgoers caught a glimpse of the chunk of wood as it banged along the beach, never giving the thing a second thought. Plaudits to Tom Kelly – though I have to think it would have finally ended up in Holgate where Stu D. or myself would have nabbed it next fall.
Just a guess: More than a few beachcombers will now be walking the beaches between Surf City and Beach Haven, looking for the rest of the canoe. Personally, I’ll be out there with visions of a fully intact canoe, Ice Age vintage, paddled only on Sundays by a little old aboriginal granny – oh, it will also have gold nuggets embedded in the sides. Hey, I told you, I’m a full-blown treasure hunter.

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Comment by theking on May 2, 2007 at 9:53pm
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Comment by theking on May 2, 2007 at 9:53pm
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