Timber wreckage set on fire


Reports reached me this weekend that normally law-abiding longshore folk along the South Coast have taken to arson in protest at the ‘unfair’ legal status over the timber washed ashore from the Ice Prince freighter.

Shedloads – potentially anyway – of the 4X2 planking washed up along the beaches of Sussex after the Greek ship sank off Portland last month, as reported in the March issue of Yachting Monthly.

Legally this windfall is called ‘flotsam’ as it broke free from the stricken ship as she listed, and not ‘jetsam’ – thrown overboard to try and save the ship and therefore a deliberate act. The timber-starved citizens of Worthing, Brighton and Shoreham , believed that because the sea was littered with the freight, accidentally, it meant it was finders-keepers.

However they are discovering that both flotsam and jetsam are covered as part of a ‘wreck’ and as such must be reported to Customs who may reward the salvor.

So, faced with the prospect of splintered fingers and no new garden decking, potting shed, or lean-to, some folks have decided they’d prefer a good bonfire.

This is one area of over-regulated Britain in which the authorities should turn a blind-eye: everyone needs, just now and again, something for nothing. And maybe towns like Eastbourne, Hastings and Worthing which can be dull for kick-seeking youths, would benefit from a legion of eagle-eyed beachcombers, lured away from the grafitti-targets of lonely esplanade street ‘furniture’ and onto the tideline.