As seen in the January 2002 edition of W&ET Magazine
By: Ed Fedory
The rocky coast of Maine abounds with tales of hidden pirate treasure and ill-gotten booty. It's a place where the snapping of sail canvas is commonplace, and tales of ghostly ships still adrift on moonlit nights, taking to phantom winds, are the norm rather than the exception. With the scent of salt water in your nostrils, and the sounds of the sea surrounding you, it is a feeling of timelessness, more than anything else, that is carried on the breeze.
Far from roughing it in a cave or grass shack, I spent the week in a 6,000-square-foot limestone mansion, on a private island.
I well remember the treasure books by Edward Rowe Snow that I read as a young boy, especially the tale of treasure he recovered on a lonely island off the coast of Maine- an island such as the one I was bound for that week in mid-July.
Each dawn held the promise of new finds, but after some pretty fruitless days of metal detecting I decided to try a different kind of treasure hunting.
Unfortunately, the "artifacts" recovered included old plumbing fixtures, fishing lures, and rusty spikes!
Well... perhaps there's just a tinge of writer's imagination in that statement. The island was isolated and private... but there were two captains to pilot the island's four boats, and the chef was a culinary magician. The 6,000-square-foot stone mansion was out of the pages of Home and Garden, and I didn't feel the slightest bit of deprivation when I found that my suite had two complete bathrooms. The stone and tile shower, with five showerheads, was half the size of my garage, but it's easy to endure such hardships if you're a real relic hunter!
Besides the mansion, there were only two other dwellings on the island, a caretaker's home and an old fisherman's station above the cove.
My initial focus for relic hunting was the old fishing station, and it was there that I was destined to learn something about the dietary habits of old fishermen: they loved eating canned sardines! A nice signal would run through my headset, and images of old pirate coins would flash before my mind- gold doubloons!... pieces of eight!- which somehow magically transformed themselves into another rusty sardine can or lid. It was actually fun digging up pieces of an old wood burning stove, just for the sake of variation in recovered targets. The horseshoes were the big thrill!
Floats and lobster buoys, lengths of nylon rope, sand-smoothed beach glass, woven bait bags, and the island itself became my treasures for the week.
The following morning, I loaded my backpack with some liquid refreshments and began my trek along the rocky coastline. In true mountain-goat fashion, I worked my way across the top of the boulders and outcroppings in a slow and cautious manner, from one precarious perch to the next. I spied a couple of lobster buoys wedged between some rocks, dislodged them, and placed them in my backpack. Before long, I had to cut a length of nylon rope and begin stringing the buoys I found.
When I dropped the pile of buoys beside the pool, I received some strange looks and heard a very familiar voice comment, "Oh, that's just Eddie. He's always finding something to drag home!"
I found that coastal recoveries had certainly changed during the course of those 30-odd years since I was a starving college student. Not only were the buoys no longer made of wood, but neither were the traps themselves. The only items that seemingly hadn't changed much were the woven bait bags within the washed-up traps, and the beach glass which had been smoothed and sculpted by the endless action of the waves and rocks.
It wasn't long before we were heading back to civilization, with the island receding over the horizon. I didn't come back with many relics on this trip, but I had a new definition for the word treasure!
During one of these excursions something interesting happened. As I came around one rocky boulder in my quest for beach glass, I noticed a couple of kayakers who were taking a break from paddling. The woman asked if I was collecting beach glass, and I replied that I had to find some kind of treasure since I was a castaway on the island for the week.
I was surprised to find horseshoes... typical relic hunting trophies that I thought I would be getting away from on an island two miles from the mainland.
As the end of the week drew near, there only remained one last place to explore the far eastern end of the island. Actually, a case could be made to say that this is an island by itself, as it is only connected by a small strip of rocky beach which, at high tide, is only 10' wide.