No day at the beach: Ponte Vedra Beach man tackles Mickler’s trash


The surfers call him “Bucket Bob.”

Armed with a five-gallon bucket from Home Depot and a pair of grabber tongs, Ponte Vedra Beach resident Bob Davenport rises with the sun and heads to Mickler’s Landing several times a week, picking up some of the copious amounts of trash he finds strewn across the beach and dunes. It’s a task that’s gotten more laborious, he said, since he first began picking up trash about a year ago, and one he fears is only going to get worse as the local population grows and more people flock to the beach.

“I’m no tree hugger,” Davenport emphasized in a recent interview in between trash collections. “But I was a Boy Scout and I have a certain respect for picking up and cleaning up after myself. And to see the beach being defiled as it is bothers me.”

Amateur photographer

Davenport didn’t set out to become the unofficial trash collector for Mickler’s Landing. His true love is photography.

“I started going to the beach to photograph the sunrises,” he said, “and I started to notice that there was a lot of trash left behind on the beach.”

At first, Davenport said, he would simply pick up what he could and put it in his pockets. He soon found, however, that his pockets weren’t big enough, so he started bringing grocery bags. Those were also too small to handle the growing amount of trash he was finding on his photography trips. He finally settled on the five-gallon bucket and tongs to ease the wear and tear on his back from constantly bending over to pick up the trash left behind by other beachgoers.

Now, picking up trash at the beach has become a regular part of Davenport’s daily routine. Sometimes he makes his trash collection rounds in the mornings; other days, he returns home from his Southside job as a risk analyst and stops at his Seaside home just long enough to prep himself for the task at hand.“I get home from work,” he said, “change into my shorts, kiss my wife and head to the beach.”

Too much trash

From toys and towels to soda cans, clothing and cigarette butts – lots and lots of cigarette butts – you name it, Davenport has found it all strewn across the sand at Mickler’s beach. While he donates some items, such as beach towels, to a local pet shelter, other items are simply too unsavory to save – such as the countless bags of dog waste Davenport finds each day laying about the beach.

“I’ve found syringes, underwear, beer bottles,” he said. “I’ve also found used children’s diapers buried in the sand.”

Perhaps the biggest item of “trash” Davenport has found is a full-size beach canopy tent left standing on the beach.

“It was broken, so the owners just walked away and left it there.”

Davenport ended up disposing of it for them.

As the mounds of trash he’s collected have grown, so has Davenport’s frustration with his fellow beachgoers. So much so, that’s he’s taken to posting signs at the beach in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing trash problem, in the hope that it will cause visitors to think twice about leaving trash behind after a day at Mickler’s Landing.

“When you come to the beach,” he said, “the only things you should leave behind are footprints in the sand and memories.”