by Lisa Luciano
Glass Float Hunt
If you like beaches, buried treasure and beautiful baubles, you’ll enjoy knowing what’s up at the Lincoln City Beach in Oregon.
Every “off-season” (from mid-October until Memorial Day) lucky beachcombers are finding treasures strategically hidden among the dunes and debris on a seven-mile stretch of public beach. These treasures are secretly hidden, but with the hope that they will be found. These unique beach gifts are artisan glass floats.
What is a glass float?
Fishing floats are used to keep fishing nets buoyant in open waters. The floats were usually spherical, but sometimes oblong. Traditionally, these balls were used extensively by Japanese fishermen, and they were made of glass. Often created from repurposed sake bottles, when the glass was remastered into a sphere, it would encase trapped bubbles of air. This made it buoyant. The glass floats were often shades of green or blue. Deeper shades of red, purple and emerald are rare and valuable if found today.
Most modern fishermen now use floats made of plastic, aluminum or Styrofoam. New glass floats being created today are replicas. Made by artisan glass blowers, they recapture the beauty of these functional, historical treasures. But, there are still hundreds of the original glass floats bobbing around in the oceans – especially in the North Pacific. Sometimes still encased in rope, or etched by sand and water, they are fascinating pieces of history. When an old-fashioned glass float makes its way to shore, it’s a pleasant surprise for any beachcomber.
So, why are glass floats typically found in large numbers on the beaches of Lincoln City, Oregon? It started in 1999, with artists who appreciated the functional beauty of glass floats. To celebrate the new millennium, they launched the Finders Keepers project. This is how it works:
- Local artists create original, one-of-a-kind glass floats.
- “Float Fairies” enjoy the fun responsibility of secretly hiding 3,000 per season along the beach.
- Beachgoers flock to join the hunt for the hidden glass floats.
- Lucky finders get to keep the one they find; they are numbered and can be registered.
Although the Lincoln City, Oregon hunt lasts during the entire off-season, there is a "glass treasures" hunt that takes place during January and February in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Every day, "Beach Buddies" are the ones who hide globes around the beaches for guests to discover. If you'd rather, you can also purchase the Jekyll Island treasures online.
Glass Float Hunt Info
Tourists love the tradition of looking for glass floats and have described the search as a “big Easter egg hunt.” Some families make it a yearly tradition to head to the same stretch of Oregon beach, from Road’s End to Siletz Bay. If you would like to try it, here are some helpful hints:
- Floats are placed on the beach only during daylight – anytime throughout the day.
- Floats are out there for the finding rain or shine, during the off-season.
- Floats can be found above the high tide line and below the beach embankment.
- Once you find one, you get to keep it, register it, and find out the name of the artist who created it.
Treasures, Trash…and More
Those individuals who cannot physically participate in the beachcombing can enter a monthly drawing for a glass float.
Trash for Treasures is another way to win. If you bag up some beach trash, you are eligible to throw your name into the drawing for a glass float. In addition to the glass floats, additional items are offered for special events and holidays. These extra goodies include: sand dollars, sea stars, heart shaped floats, and getaway packages.
The end of the Lincoln City Beach glass float season is approaching, but there are still a few special events on the calendar:
- May 12-13, 2018 – special Mother’s Day event
- May 26-28, 2018 – the closing weekend of Finders Keepers
I don't know about you...but I am inspired to join the hunt!
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