“It is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins, the exact same percentage of salt in our blood, that exists in the ocean”
The outer beaches of Cape Cod are famous among driftwood collectors. Driftwood floats on to Cape Cod in two different forms. One type of driftwood is wood that has been sawn into boards, the other is wood that is in its natural round shape. Driftwood boards are essentially human trash. Driftwood trees, branches, and roots are naturally occurring from storms, floods, and tidal erosions. Many of the round logs you will see on the Cape’s beaches comes from Maine and floats to us on the wind and currents. In many areas where coastal shores are protected by marine sanctuaries and national parks it may be illegal to remove natural driftwood since it becomes part of the ecosystem. However, in most areas that receive driftwoods in the form of human trash, collecting these boards is encouraged to clean up the environment.
How does it get the worm holes?
The wood may drift in the ocean currents for weeks or months and travel many miles around the ocean before it comes to land. During this time at sea the wood is attacked by Teredo worms, often called ship’s worms. These worms attach themselves as small larvae and grow in size as they bore into the wood. Softer woods can be almost completely consumed in a matter of time while hardwoods and woods that reach land sooner are less wormy. The worms die when the wood dries out of the water. After too much time on land, carpenter ants and termites might be also making holes. The ship’s worms leave a calcium shell deposited in the wood and they bore into the wood getting bigger as they go, usually across the grain. The termites bore tunnels up and down the grain and leave small hard pellets behind.
How do you pick a good driftwood board?
Collecting The best boards will have a nice wormy look, a sun bleached gray color, grain or knots that are raised or weathered, few or no nails, tar, or seaweed muck, and have straight edges and flat areas. The board should not be cupped, bowed, warped, or twisted. Most boards will have some good areas so the trick is to be able to quickly judge whether the board is good for something or good for nothing. Good for nothing boards are better left on the beach since they would be a waste of time to collect and keep. Most boards will also have faults that can be cut out when used. Some boards might be too funky for a picture frame but might make a nice nautical looking sign. A good board is one that the beholder likes and can use. One piece that does not suit me might be the perfect find for you.