Meet NASGA’s 2015 Sea Glass Festival Lecturer, Bill Winkler

The North American Sea Glass Association’s 10th Annual Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland will be held August 29-30th, 2015 and will feature three lectures on Saturday.  Each of the lectures will offer attendees a unique look into the historical significance of objects found along the region’s DelMarVa shorelines, and we’ll also have a lecture on Greek Sea Glass.

winklerLGBill Winkler, with the Delaware Marine Archeological Society, will offer his knowledge of the local historical significance of sea glass and treasures, which can be found along the Delaware and Maryland beaches.

Bill has either spent time at the beach or lived by it almost his entire life. In the early 1950s his family vacationed in Dewey, Delaware, where they rented a cottage on Dickinson Street. That’s where his love for the ocean started. Since then, that love has taken him from coast to coast, provided Bill with a career and even a glimpse of a time when schooners either mastered the sea or were swallowed whole by it.

In ninth grade, a guidance counselor asked what career Bill wanted to pursue. He chose marine biology. He figured it would give him a chance to be by the ocean. That meant not being indoors—something Bill didn’t want to do if it would feel like the confinement of school.  Bill received his biology degree from the University of Hawaii in 1970, then continued in graduate school through 1973. He eventually left his studies to work for the airlines. My career included working for Island Air, Aloha and Western Airlines. By the time he left the islands, Bill had lived surrounded by the Pacific for a decade.

After Bill returned to the mainland, he migrated to the East Coast, where he made Pompano Beach, Florida, his home. Bill spent 17 years there fishing, surfing, scuba diving, treasure hunting for Mel Fisher and loving the beach life.

Yet Bill returned to Sussex County, just miles from where he had vacationed as a kid. Though Bill was a skilled diver, he had spent years working along Florida’s submerged barrier reef system, there was little demand for his services. So Bill ended up in the retail business with TreasureQuest Shoppe on Route 26, where he sells nautical decor and specializes in metal detectors, for treasure hunting.

Shipwrecks of Delmarva - art work by Robert Pratt, cartographer & research of the shipwreck locations with names & dates of sinking by Don Shomette. Of the 10,000 to 12,000 wrecks believed to lie on the sea floor, this is a one of a kind comprehensive representation.
Shipwrecks of Delmarva – art work by Robert Pratt, cartographer & research of the shipwreck locations with names & dates of sinking by Don Shomette.  Of the 10,000 to 12,000 wrecks believed to lie on the sea floor, this is a one of a kind comprehensive representation.

After years of selling metal detectors to people who discovered shipwreck artifacts on the beach, Bill and several friends founded the Delaware Marine Archaeological Society in 1997.

In 2002 the society completed the first maritime archeological survey in Delaware at no cost to the state. They focused on one 255-foot unidentified ship that was in the surf zone at Beach Plum Island. The fact that this boat remains anonymous is amazing, considering that it is one of the largest schooners built during its time. After years of work, we put together a 3-inch-thick report titled the “Beach Plum Island Project,” which details the architecture of the schooner. It includes VHS video, more than 300 photographs and plenty of drawings. Since the report was finished, much of the ship has been broken apart and scattered by waves, but at least part of her history has been documented.

Working in and out of the sea has taken Bill from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but now Bill finds himself on the same sandy shores he loved as a kid.  Bill finds himself at home along the Delaware beaches; although he still has the urge to seek adventure on an uninhabited island somewhere out in warmer waters.

Bill Winkler will feature a lecture, “The Historical Significance of Sea Glass & Treasures found along Delaware’s Coast” on Saturday at 11am during the North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland on August, 29th – 30th.

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