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Beachcombing involves searching the beach for things of value or interest that have washed ashore. For the Texel population this was the way to gather wood for building or fuel. These days this tradition is still carried out, but as a hobby.
Beachcombing used to be highly lucrative. Shiploads were not secured as well as they are these days and during a storm ships frequently lost their loads to the waves. Nowadays shiploads are secured well, and it is not very often that valuable items wash ashore.
Yet the hearts of Texel’s beachcombers beat faster at the news of an approaching storm. That’s when thebeachcombers set off the following dawn to search the beaches for anything of interest along the coastline.
For more than 75 years, special finds have been collected by the Maritiem and Juttersmuseum Flora. In this museum you can see these treasures with your own eyes and hear all sorts of thrilling stories. The museum’s owners, André en Judith, frequently go for a beach walk before opening the museum. In Oudeschild, Museum Kaap Skil also has a section with interesting beach finds on display. And often there are beachcombers there sharing stories about their adventures.
Beachcombing is forbidden by law. Any objects washed ashore fall under the authority of the official beachcombing body, the 'strandvonderij'. On the island of Texel, there are six official assistant-beachcombers (strandvonders) and one head beachcomber, the mayor. The assistant strandvonders regularly search the beach and place any valuable finds in storage, after which they try to trace the owner. If the owner can’t be traced, the Texel council sells the items in a public sale. The 'assistant-strandvonders' are authorized to drive a car or tractor on the beach.
'Strandvonders' only pick up valuable items. If you find a piece of wood, or any objects that can be regarded as waste, don’t hesitate to take keep it.
Report it to the Texel city council via the phonenumber +31 140222 or by the police. You can register as a finder of valuables. Then, according to the rules of Strandvonderij Texel, you are entitled to a finder's premium of 10% of the gross value, with a maximum of € 1000. You can report other matters, such as a wedding ring or wallet, at www.verlorengevonden.nl.
Beachcombing is part of the Texel culture. This can be seen from the interior of certain accommodations. At Hotel De Waal, for example, you can stay the night at the house of a true beachcombing family, and sleep on a bed made from wood found washed up on Texel’s beaches. Or choose from the ZoTexels accommodations, which include many holiday homes, campsites and B&Bs fittedoutwith furniture inspired by beachcombing.
Maria Roelofsen makes true objets d’art from beachcombed materials. These are displayed at Museum Galerie RAT in Den Burg. Upon request, Paulien Valk organises the workshop 'Jutterstuk: kunst van zee' (Beachcomber Piece: Art from the sea). After a search on the beach, you will set to work on your own work of art.