Low Tide follies, Sunday July 6-Monday July 7 (and an abalone bandit)

The lowest tides between July 1 and Sept 1 were on July 6 and 7. We decided to take advantage of the very lowest tide on Sunday to visit the beaches to the south of the Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg. This was .9 ft lower than the usual low tide.

Glass Beach super low tide 7.5.15-008sm

These are the beaches that acted as the landfill for Ft. Bragg until around 1960. Since then the organic material has all washed away or degraded, and what remains are glass fragments that have been rolling along the rocky bottom.The beach is covered with sea glass.

Glass Beach super low tide 7.5.15-012sm

Glass Beach super low tide 7.5.15-015sm

Glass Beach is now a tourist attraction, but management of the site is inconsistent. Guide books say that collecting glass from the beach is not permitted, and access to several sections of beach is blocked by a low wire strung parallel to the blufftop bike path. A sign says that the bluffs are crumbly, which they are, but if you look down at the beaches, you see local people and visitors walking around, and some are collecting glass. Often, the collectors are artists looking for material for jewelry that they sell locally and on line, while others are visitors looking for souvenirs.

Glass Beach super low tide 7.5.15-014sm

This photo shows you how far the layer of beach glass extends.

It was great to see the extent of the glass, and though different people say there are other beaches that have similar beds of tumbled glass. I find that hard to believe. When we visited the Beach Glass Museum & Gallery locally, we found small bags of raw glass for sale that visitors are encouraged to purchase and deposit at their favorite beach so that the beach glass doesn’t disappear. Local stores feature lots of beach glass jewelry, much of it labeled as locally collected material. In fact, however, much less expensive than a trip to Mendocino to collect beach glass would be to make it yourself in a rock tumbler.


The abalone hunting season closed on June 30 and reopens on August 1. When we were leaving Glass Beach, we saw a park ranger speaking to two men, one wearing a wet suit, the other in street clothes and carrying a dog-carrier-sized duffel. We watched for a few minutes out of curiosity and found that the ranger was arresting them for poaching abalone. Go park ranger!

MONDAY JULY 6, 2015–Low tide again

Today’s low tide was not quite as low as Sunday (-.4 ft) but still unusually low, so Paula (visiting this week) and I went to Van Damme State Beach to beach comb for abalone shell fragments. Van Damme is a gravelly, rocky beach, and for some reason abalone shell fragments wash up there more frequently than on other beaches we’ve visited.

From Van Damme beach we moved up the hill to park on Peterson Lane and walk down to the Little River Point/Spring Ranch area, near where we stayed in June.

7.6.15 spring ranch.15 spring ranch.15 spring ranch-001sm 7.6.15 spring ranch.15 spring ranch.15 spring ranch-005sm

I wanted to show Paula the beautiful rocky coast, and to check out a tiny beach accessible by a short scramble through the trees. Sure enough, we found a few nice abalone bits there, thanks to the low tide.

7.6.15 spring ranch.15 spring ranch.15 spring ranch-006sm

Entrance to the path. Do you see me?

7.7.15 spring ranch-008sm

Tiny cave and beach.

By the time we did all this is was barely 10:30 am and Paula’s fitbit guaranteed us that we were as tired as we felt, so we retreated to Mendocino for a stroll and coffee and a pastry at the Goodlife Cafe and Bakery (delicious).





Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

%d bloggers like this: