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#34920 07/09/01 12:23 AM
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" (re) flotsam and jetsam accumulated by beachcombers "
Since dedicated linguaphiles have a passion for precision, may I suggest beachcombers can only study jetsam. The flotsam is out of their reach.
And remember the Smithsonian can be read online

http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues01/jul01/beachcombing.html



#34921 07/09/01 12:45 AM
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out of their reach

Why so, Bill? I have always understood flotsam to be the debris of a foundered ship - could be so still, surely, even if washed ashore?


#34922 07/09/01 12:59 AM
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"Why so, Bill? I have always understood flotsam to be the debris of a foundered ship - could be so still, surely,
even if washed ashore?"


Anglo-Fr floteson < OFr flotaison, a floating < floter, to float < MDu vloten (or OE flotian), to FLOAT6
1 the wreckage of a ship or its cargo floating at sea
2 odds and ends

var. of JETTISON
1 that part of the cargo or equipment thrown overboard to lighten a ship in danger: see FLOTSAM
2 such material washed ashore
3 discarded things

The way I interpret it, so long as it is afloat, it is flotsam. When it is thrown up on the beach, it becomes jetsam.


#34923 07/09/01 10:06 AM
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The way I interpret it, so long as it is afloat, it is flotsam. When it is thrown up on the beach, it becomes jetsam.

I was taught the difference (and there may be some legal difference in salvage terms) was whether the items were set afloat accidentally, by the force of the waves or whatever, and were flotsam, or were deliberately jettisoned to help save the ship, and so were jetsam. By that definition they could both be washed ashore.
In googling (flotsam jetsam legal) I found differing definitions:
==========
FLOTSAM, JETSAM, LIGAN or FLOTSAN - A name for the goods which float upon the sea when a ship is sunk.

JETSAM or JETTISON - The casting out of a vessel, from necessity, a part of the lading; it differs from flotsam in that in the latter the goods float while in the former they sink and remain under water.

extra edited out

LIGAN or LAGAN. Goods cast into the sea tied to a buoy, so that they may be found again by the owners.

When goods are cast into the sea in storms or shipwrecks and remain there without coming to land, they are distinguished by the names of jetsam, flotsam, and ligan.
========================================
but also
========================================
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "FLOTSAM" AND "JETSAM" In English common law, "flotsam" (derived from the Latin flattare, "to float") referred specifically to the cargo or parts of a wrecked ship that float on the sea.

"Jetsam" also derived from Latin - jactare, "to throw" referred to goods purposely thrown overboard in order to either lighten the ship or to keep the goods from perishing if the ship went under. Although the main distinction between the two terms was the way the goods got into the water, technically, to become jetsam the cargo had to be dragged ashore above the high-water line. If not, the material was considered flotsam, which included all cargo found on the shore between the high and low-water lines.
=====================================
The more places I look the more definitions I find and the more confused I get.
Rod


#34924 07/09/01 12:22 PM
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Yes, I shared your initial understanding relating to the deliberate casting overboard, Rod, and now your puzzlement too! This is what the 'quick look' dictionary suggests:

flot·sam (flŏt'səm)
n.

Wreckage or cargo that remains afloat after a ship has sunk.
Floating refuse or debris.
Discarded odds and ends.
Vagrant, usually destitute people.
[Anglo-Norman floteson, from Old French floter, to float, of Germanic origin.]

USAGE NOTE In maritime law, flotsam applies to wreckage or cargo left floating on the sea after a shipwreck. Jetsam applies to cargo or equipment thrown overboard from a ship in distress and either sunk or washed ashore.
The common phrase flotsam and jetsam is now used loosely to describe any objects found floating or washed ashore.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved


Also, my old Chambers gives this:

jetsam (obs.) jettison: the goods so thrown away and washed up on shore: according to some, goods from a wreck that remain under water
flotsam goods lost by shipwreck and found floating on the sea




Come in, tsuwm - or should I say Oedipus Rex?




#34925 07/09/01 12:34 PM
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"common phrase flotsam and jetsam is now used loosely" - loose as a goose


#34926 07/09/01 03:11 PM
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In New England, after a storm, lobster traps are sometimes washed ashore. It is a punishable offense to take them, fine and or jail time.
In days when the traps were made of wood they were often stolen to make decorative coffee tables etc. The wood turns a lovely grey after submersion under sea water. The current Viny-covered-wire one don't seem to have the same aesthetic appeal.
You may drag the trap out of the shallow water but do *not* take it above the high tide line. All traps have a tag with owner name and a phone number (usually the local fishermen's co-op) on it. It's much appreciated when people call with info on locations of washed-ashore raps. The traps are expensive and a lobsterman has a hard life and his family depends on the catch. By the way, traps, (sometimes called "pots,") are usually a longish box shape.
The old fashion traps of wood, suitably weathered are still made by some old timers -- usually available thru giftie shoppies -- or you can ask a lobsterman and usually get a name and number ... if you are up early! Lobstermen go to sea about 4:30 a.m. and return to the dock between 10:30 and noon depending ....

#34927 07/09/01 04:50 PM
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phew! that's a relief - safe ashore again. Now, lobster sandwiches are my absolute favourite.... hi, E!


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Interesting study of flotsam and jetsam folks...one never knows what an idle comment might launch on these boards, does one? Amazed they passed that lobster pot law up your way, Ann. It's contrary to the time-honored salvage law of the sea. Once something is cast adrift or set free of its moorings, whoever salvages the boat, device, or whatever, is entitled to claim ownership. This even goes for boats stranded on the marshes during storms. Indicates to me how seriously folks take their lobsterin' up yonder. Not that fishermen aren't as dedicated in our area...but changing the code of the sea is a major step in a seaman's eyes. After storms lots of pots, traps, and assorted paraphernalia wash up on our beaches, and folks head down and collect whatever's salvageable as their own. Any seasoned "salts" or sailors (and I know, hearkening back to that infamous nautical thread, that we have seafolk afoot!) who could give us a more educated look at the law of salvage on the sea?


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Dear WhitmanO"Neill: I suspect that salvage of things cast ashore may be much more complicated than you think. Do you suppose that if some kids untied your boat from its mooring, and it drifted ashore, that it would become the property of tje first person to take hold of its mooring rope?




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