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Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam [Kindle Edition]

Skye Moody
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature
Help kids fall in love with nature while instilling them with a sense of place along the way.

Book Description

The ocean gives up many prizes, just setting them on our beaches for us to find. From rubber ducks that started out somewhere in Indonesia to land Venice Beach, to an intact refrigerator makes it way to the Jersey Shore. Chunks of beeswax found on the Oregon coast are the packing remnants of 18th century Spanish gold. Author Skye Moody walks the coast, dons her wet suit, and heads out to sea to understand the excellent debris that accrues along the tideline. There she finds advanced military technology applied to locating buried Rolexes, hardcore competitive beachcombing conventions, and isolated beach communities whose residents are like flotsam congregated at the slightest obstacle on the coastline. This book confirms that the world is a mysterious place and that treasure is out there to be found.

Editorial Reviews


Washed Up knocked me out. Informative, funny, intimate and beautifully written. I'll never walk a beach again without thinking about hermaphroditic barnicles, the truth behind the mystery of purple sea glass, and the fact that ambergris is incredibly exp

About the Author

Writer, photographer, and former East Africa bush guide, Skye Moody is also the author of Hillbilly Women and Fruits of Our Labor: Soviet and American Workers Talk About Making a Living. She lives in Seattle.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1376 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1570614636
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books (August 3, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004APA56K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #615,261 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beachcombing January 31, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author has travelled all over the world and beachcombed. She uses humor to teach us about ocean currents that take items from say Japan to the Washington state coast. I was expecting a book about beachcombing, another quick read about glass floats and driftwood. But this book is so much more than that. Skye explains currents. She explains about sperm whales that regurgitate a product that can be found on some beaches, then warns us about buying this products on the internet. (It's illegal in the states to purchase products from sperm whales because they are an endangered species.)

She also writes about the problem of dumping wastes in our oceans, and how that affects the food chain.

All of this is done in a highly readable writing style, laced with a sharp humor. Weaving through the book is a tale about an item she found at Alkai Beach in Seattle, but she discarded thinking she couldn't possibly carry one more item. She regrets having tossed it.

I'm glad I purchased and read this book. Now, I must go...beachcombing!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories from time and space October 16, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book for filling your head with amazing facts to regurgitate when walking on the beach with friends or children. I can attest to the latter's fascination with tales of astronaut poop, and the origins of ambergris, the fragrant sea-borne product of whale regurgitation.

The book collects together stories from across the globe and over the centuries, in styles reminiscent of People Magazine (with photographs), Tattler and National Geographic. Moody has a journalist's eye for detail, and a storyteller's ability to inject dry facts with human interest. Her name-dropping is both cheeky and fun. She covers whimsical topics (floating phalluses) and serious ones (the proliferation of plastic garbage in the tidal gyres of the Pacific), but it's a quick read, ideal for say, a flight to Melanesia (home of the cargo cultists).

The book could do with an index, to allow the reader to locate and re-read some of the more interesting tales. And, there was an unfortunate bobble in the explanation of why driftwood floats. But neither criticism detracts from what is an entertaining and informative read. I recommend it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gifts and Lessons from the Sea January 19, 2007
Skye Moody has been a journalist covering Ukrainian coal mining and Siberian reindeer herding, a bush guide in East Africa, a literature teacher, a poet, and a novelist. She has also written nonfiction books before, but has now written one about a subject in which what she is really interested. Moody is a flotsamist, which is a fancy way of saying she is a beachcomber. In _Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam_ (Sasquatch Books), she has described her passion with all the enthusiasm of the most devoted hobbyist. There's always a danger that someone writing about a hobby will be unable to communicate the hobby's fascination to those who don't share the passion, but there is no such problem in Moody's book. For one thing, the subject is inherently fascinating; no one who has ever walked on a beach has failed to pay attention to shells, driftwood, seaweed, or bottles that have washed up on the sand. For another, Moody is a funny writer, amused by her own obsession and by those who share it. For yet another, studying what travels around the ocean can be scientific evidence of how currents work, so tracking flotsam is not a trivial folly.

In 1990, Nike shoes began washing up on the beaches of the Pacific northwest. Six months before, a huge container ship had lost twenty-one shipping containers in a severe storm, including five containers holding 80,000 Nike shoes. This was bad news for Nike, but good news for oceanographers who could track the shoes and improve their models of ocean currents. The flotsamists who collected the shoes realized that there were few matches; the laces of the shoes had not been tied together, so shortly after being dunked, the right shoes parted ways from the left shoes. The parting was not random.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting tidbits, but terrible execution April 12, 2008
I've read amusing tales of flotsam before, such as the rubber ducks that spilled into the sea and were used to track currents, so I picked up this book.

I must say, I found it tremendously frustrating to read. Ms. Moody's writing style in this book is irksome at best, juvenile at worst. She employs phrases like "hella-bad ugly" and uses bizarre interludes with a (presumably imaginary) psychiatrist, and I found none of this enjoyable.

Further, the book lacked any sort of organization. The major sections are stretched to their limits (and beyond), such that they become meaningless. Each section then has shorter sub-sections, but these too seem to be scattered. Repeatedly, I found myself reading a tidbit and feeling it had been cut very short. I'd finish a paragraph, and expect to read on and get more information, but instead an entirely different topic would come up. I don't think I've ever failed to finish a book I've started, but I was sorely tempted with this one.

If you're a die-hard beachcomber, perhaps this book is worthwhile. Otherwise, I'd absolutely advise steering clear.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flotsam as autobiographical metaphor August 17, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I feel compelled to write this review for those of you who, like me, thought this would be a sort of beachcomber's approach to oceanography. It isn't, or at least not primarily. The idea of patterns of ocean currents predictably guiding flotsam to certain shores, or into perpetual circulation in huge stagnant seas of trash is of obvious interest to environmentalists or even those with just a casual curiosity about the origins of unexpected objects encountered on the seashore. I was originally attracted to these ideas by Ebbesmeyer's Flotsametrics, but was steered to Washed Up by its higher reviewer ratings. These subjects are indeed covered in the fourth chapter. Like all the others, it is well written, testimony to the author's writing experience, mostly in fiction. But this is a personal narrative, rather than a journalistic exploration. The tale begins and ends with an exotic piece of flotsam the author found and discarded from the shores of Washington. In between is a meandering collection of interesting facts and experiences, not all necessarily related to the sea. It becomes clear that this is more a book about the author herself, complete with imagined psychoanalytic sessions and tongue-in-cheek reminiscences of her many travels. In fairness, she does a masterful job of conveying how her fascination with flotsam is both literal and metaphorical: how fate and circumstance guide floating objects as well as our own lives. For those of you who enjoy witty autobiography for its own sake, you may be as interested as she is in the details of how she got drunk in Finland or the life stories of people obsessed with collecting flotsam in their yards. I suspect it is less so for those who choose this book based simply on its title.
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More About the Author

Skye Moody is the award-winning author of 8 novels about endangered species, and 3 books of nonfiction.
Moody has traveled throughout the world as a photojournalist and writer covering social justice and environmental issues. Moody's recently re-released book, "Hillbilly Women" was produced Off-Broadway in 2011, and won a Mademoiselle Woman of the Year Award. Her book, "WASHED UP, The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam," was awarded a Notable Book by the Washington State Library Association, and resulted in her being named an international coastal Character" by Coastal Living Magazine. Her portraits of working people in China, the former USSR, and the US have been exhibited worldwide. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for her book "FRUITS OF OUR LABOR, US and Soviet Workers Talk About Making a Living". Moody is a member of PEN American Center, PEN West, and the UK-based Cloudspotter's Society, and is Africa Liaison for the NGO, Global Help Organization. A former East Africa bush guide, Moody led medical safaris into the Kenya and Tanzania bush to help diagnose and treat tropical diseases afflicting tribal villages.

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