Bermuda, October 2012 ~ During a dive at Nonsuch Island three years ago, I found an intact marble bottle. I wasn’t hunting for bottles; I was supposed to be counting fish, but the tiniest hint of aqua glass caught my eye and I started digging. It took about five minutes to free the sediment-filled bottle from the soft sand bottom but I was hooked at the last tug.
Before I continue, I need to do some record straightening. A few months ago, I posted photos of some of my beachcombing treasures, including a handful of what I thought were parrotfish beaks that I found on a previous trip to Bermuda. See the photos here. Well I was wrong, wrong, wrong! An alert reader, Audrey, commented that she thought they were chiton shells. We were in Bonaire at the time her message came through and I had just seen some intact chiton shells during my morning walk along the waterfront, so I went back for one. Now that we are home I shot a photo of it along side the parts from Bermuda – and look at that – they match! And last week, at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) I saw a real parrotfish beak on display! So thank you, Audrey – I hope you are still reading this blog.
So back to the bottles. Before Bermuda, I was an opportunistic collector. In Banda Harbor (think Dutch clay gin bottles) or the Solomons (WWII era Coke bottles) if I happened upon something interesting, I looked but rarely picked one up. Ever since my marble bottle find, I’ve been scheming to get back to Bermuda. It didn’t take much to talk Tammy and Ken Marks into going with us and we spent two days mucking around, literally, in 8 – 20 feet of water.
Sometimes we swam for ten minutes, seeing nothing and sometimes we’d find a bottle graveyard. This didn’t mean that we found really old, really good bottles. We managed to examine about 10,000 Heineken and Amstel bottles of fairly recent vintage. My favorite find was an old water bottle with an embossed message so long that it wrapped twice around the base of the bottle. The stern message: “This bottle is our exclusive property – anyone using, destroying, or retaining it will be prosecuted” In other words, as Tammy said “Don’t even look at this bottle!”
We met a a really nice bottle collector, Brion Estis, who pulled up alongside us for an impromptu evaluation and bottle lesson. The more we consulted Brion, the more bottles we pitched over the side. It was great fun. In fact, so much fun that we’ve talked Ned into returning in a few months. I made it home with a few that are all cleaned up and sitting in their new home on our curio shelf with my other bottles: