BAR HARBOR — When a battered, multicolored buoy washed up along the coast of Ireland earlier this month, Liam MacNamara knew it had to belong to a colorful character.
MacNamara, who lives in the Irish village of Fanore on the northern coast of County Clare, has been beachcombing since he “was a lad.”
“Being the addicted beachcomber that I am, this buoy turned up on one of my rambles close to my home,” MacNamara said by text message from Ireland.
Buoys and other fishing gear from Canada and New England are relatively common beachcombing finds in coastal U.K., so MacNamara knew it had to be from somewhere across the pond.
When MacNamara found the buoy, the bottom was damaged and missing some key information. It had no name or number. Finding its owner was going to be “almost impossible.”
However, since the buoy had bright coloring, he decided to begin the hunt for its rightful owner.
MacNamara first posted a photo of the buoy to the Facebook group that he runs, “Burren Shores Beachcombing and More.” He started the page a year ago to help fellow beachcombers identify their finds.
That post was then shared to the “Maine Lobster Boats” Facebook page, whose members, MacNamara said, have previously helped identify beachcombing treasures.
That is where Cranberry Isles lobsterman Nick Hadlock, a member of the group, identified the red and green buoy as belonging to Frank White of Trenton.
“[Hadlock] called my son up and said he thought this buoy might be one of mine because he was pretty sure it was,” said White, who skippers Rampage out of Seal Cove.
He determined that the buoy did in fact belong to him, because red paint is visible along the bottom of the buoy, and White said he painted the entire buoy red before adding blue paint to half of the surface.
White, who has been fishing for more than 30 years, estimates that the buoy is at least five years old, because he has since switched to using larger buoys.
He also thinks the buoy came from his days fishing out of Southwest Harbor, rather than out of Seal Cove. It would make more sense for the buoy to travel from Great Duck Island and beyond rather than from Blue Hill Bay, he said.
Social media has proven to be quite the tool for tracing lost and found fishing gear.
Last year, a lobster trap tag belonging to Walter Dunton of Salisbury Cove washed up on the shore of Mawgan Porth beach in Cornwall, England.
Facebook helped trace the trap tag from an English beach to its origin here in Bar Harbor.
While White is pleased with the discovery of his old buoy, he isn’t that surprised.
“They’ve got to end up somewhere,” said White. “You look at these bays, and it’s nothing but buoys, so I imagine they are everywhere.”