Way back in May of 2012, I made a list of 52 things I wanted to do before I turned 53. Item #28 was "collect sea glass on a beach". I crossed it off this September while on the Grand Tour of California.
Prior to going, I heard lots of "things" about Glass Beach. Why there is glass there, that you can't take it, how it got there, etc. etc. etc. Today I am going to give you my version of all that; based on my visits to the beach, the sea glass museum, and the publication by Capt. Cass Forrington (who is apparently a local "expert" on the subject).
The first trip we made to the beach in Fort Bragg I ran down at the first access point I saw. I was excited. Christmas morning excited. I couldn't wait to see what was there. On subsequent visits I walked further along on the headlands before climbing down. There are multiple beach areas with glass. Some are more challenging to scramble down to than others. When two hands were needed, I made a deal with Mary Ann that if she held my camera I would get sea glass for her.
From far away it was hard to tell just what I was looking at, but as I got closer there was no mistaking it.
I expected there would be hordes of people. There were not. It felt like I had the place to myself at times.
Once you start looking it's mesmerizing.
As for the legality of collecting - those beaches that are not part of MacKerricher State Park have no restrictions on taking sea glass. That said, I only collected the small amount you see below plus a little for Mary Ann and Pam.
Sea glass comes from bottles, pottery, and other glass items that used to be disposed of into the ocean. It has been tumbled around in the salt water making it smooth over the years. The coastline around Fort Bragg has rock formations that create wave patterns which keep the glass from washing away.
You know how sometimes you are disappointed by an experience when you have been wanting to do it for so long? Glass beach was NOT one of those times. It was everything I expected and more. It's hard to put my finger on what is so gratifying about sifting through bits of tumbled glass. But it is. Deeply satisfying.