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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Water hunting by numbers

On Sunday afternoon I waded back out to an offshore ledge where I found a nice 18K gold wedding band and some old silver coins a couple of days earlier.
I had a three hour window of opportunity to recover more targets in the area using my Minelab CTX 3030, to help me avoid digging and wasting time on the 12 FE-36 CO penny signals.
The last time I searched the ledge I used my Minelab Excalibur, but decided I needed a little help with the pennies that I was afraid to leave behind because I know large encrusted 10K gold class rings often respond with a high tone.
I normally always hunt by ear, but this time I used one of my metal detectors visual target identification features to help in my quest to find more gold.
As you can see by this photo of two gold class rings weighing a combines 1.1 ounces of gold, I used my time wisely instead of digging too many pennies.

Target recovery is everything when you are searching in rocky stretches of water or on top of offshore ledges.
The more targets you can successfully recover in your allotted metal detecting time, the more chance you have of finding gold or silver.
The more versatile your metal detectors are, the more you are able to search in areas that other beach and water hunters have to leave alone. 
This is what one of the class rings looked like after I fanned the sand off the area, this target rich ledge in plain sight from a South Florida beach, had not been detected for a long time.

I saw many other shallow water hunters hitting the main sections of crowed beaches on the drive up to this beach.
Some of the same water hunters who are always posting that the beaches are badly sanded in on the internet metal detecting sites.
It still amazes me how many less hunted but target rich areas there are, and only a short distance away from the detecting crowds. 
The beaches are constantly changing, it makes treasure hunting sense that you constantly change your beach and water hunting tactics to find gold. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ledge hunting

I took advantage of the extra low tide yesterday, by wading out to a coral ledge in the water. 
It was the kind of water hunting situation where you need a snorkel and mask to help you retrieve targets. 
Bobbing and fanning for targets in cracks and holes in the ledge, instead of using a long handled scoop. 
I found two silver rings, three silver dimes and an 18K gold wedding band using my Minelab Excalibur II. 

If you can get far enough out to search offshore ledges, they can be productive areas as they are only accessible to metal detect during extra low tides. 
I took a flat head screwdriver and a pair of needle nose pliers to help me recover coins and jewelry stuck in the cracks and holes along the ledge.
Because of the location of yesterdays ledge, all of my afternoon finds were probably lost by swimmers out in the normally deep water.  
Many water hunters do not have the patience to search ledges, but as you can see by the photo sometimes it pays to leave your scoop behind and try a different style of water hunting.
Anytime you can do something a little different from other water hunters in your area, you stand a chance of finding something good. 
Local knowledge of your beaches and any unusual coral or rock formations inside the water  will certainly help.
Using a metal detector with a small search coil is also important when spending time bobbing and fanning targets. 
The small search coil becomes your pin pointer in this type of underwater metal detecting situation. 
The more targets you can successfully recover the better, off shore ledge hunting is only possible during the low tide unless you scuba dive.
Ledge hunting is just another example of metal detecting outside the box. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lucky nickels and box hunting

I had a chance to go water hunting yesterday afternoon, to one of the sanded in south Florida beaches all the local detecting bloggers and forum posters are complaining about. 
Sure the beach was sanded in, but instead of moving on or going home I just moved around. 
One spot opposite a lesser used beach entrance had a few targets that I like to see, nickels and quarters.
Those two targets, especially nickels would never be found in numbers at a spot that had recently been hunted. 
I know other water hunters "box hunt" on this beach, the beach has a crowded area that is heavily hunted with two clear turn around marker points. 
I cannot mention the turn around points because it may give one of my favorite beach sites away.
This Tiffany & Co PT950 platinum ring was found only about 10 feet past one of the reference points many water hunters use as a turn around point.  

The other heavy 14K gold ring with a 3/4 carat diamond was found in the same area along with several quarters and nickels. 
Two nice rings and a bunch of coins,  instead of searching where the average water hunter would search, I searched outside the turn around points and it paid off. 
It also helped that I changed from my usual discrimination search mode to a wide open nearly all metal search mode. 
The next time you are searching a crowded stretch of beach and using the same turn around points, think about what jewelry you may be leaving behind by box hunting.
For example, a lifeguard tower may be a box hunters usual turn around point.
That same lifeguard tower may also be an enterprising jewelry hunters best friend only a few yards down the beach. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Get the lead out!

Just like searching for modern gold jewelry on tourist beaches, lead targets are usually a good sign for a Spanish treasure hunter searching for treasure coins on beaches with a little history of old shipwrecks. 
I always search in my Excalibur pinpoint mode or CTX 3030 Pattern 2 when searching for shipwreck artifacts. 
The added depth and the fact that most old shipwreck artifacts often have a lot of ferrous objects in the surrounding area, make the extra digging worthwhile. 
This photo shows a heavy discus shaped piece of lead which is a piece of lead bar shot. 

Two disc shaped pieces of lead were attached by a length of iron chain or bar and fired out of a cannon to take out another ships rigging. 
The long thick curved arrow head bronze ship nail is one of my favorite "ship spikes" and was attached to a clump of iron when originally found. 
If you look closely you can traces of ferrous objects on several of these lead objects. 
The encrusted musket balls and piece of lead in this photograph were all found on the same lower beach, the worked piece of lead  was probably a sounding weight or perhaps a crude fishing weight.  

If you are metal detecting on a beach known for old shipwrecks and you start to find old lead objects it is time to drop anchor and prepare to do some serious digging,  do not walk away from the area. 
Switch to an all metals mode and really clean the area of all metal objects, including iron. 
When mother nature puts old lead objects in treasure hunting play, never walk away as it may be your best chance of finding old gold or silver coins.
Use your scoop or spade to widen the area around the initial find.  If you have a big search coil, now is the time to put it on.  
Learn to recognize the importance of lead objects and how they settle in levels along with metals sharing the same weight or density. 
Even if you do not find any old gold, the old lead objects are cool and interesting finds. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Traveling to detect

I just returned from a metal detecting event in Boston Massachusetts, and I learned a couple of very important lessons from my trip. 
I always believed that I was a well prepared treasure hunter, but I got caught short on this trip with a short window of opportunity to metal detect somewhere different.
The last time I used my two piece long handled travel scoop was on a Caribbean cruise, I did not break it down after washing and storing it for the last 7 months. 
My mistake led to the sleeve/ bolted connection completely locking up, caused by remaining sand and saltwater on the inside of the connection. 
Of course I did not discover my mistake until it was time to pack my suitcase, luckily a good friend was kind enough to lend me his spare scoop.
I will not get caught out again, and I will make sure I never forget to break down all of my metal detecting travel equipment, including my metal detector shafts.
Simple things make a big difference when you travel to beach or water hunt. 
Travel shafts, travel scoops and even find pouches have to be more compact, easier to pack and also lightweight to avoid extra baggage fees.
Another lesson I learned from my trip was one that I have written about in my treasure hunting books.
How a local beach hunter will always have the edge over strangers searching a beach for the first time. 
I experienced the local beach hunters edge first hand after spotting a guy hammering one site and quickly moving on to another spot much further from the first site he had just searched.
The wily treasure hunter showed all the signs of being a savvy local beach hunter, he knew where to hunt and when to move on. 
Even going so far as to avoid any kind of contact with me, I admired and respected his pirate style. 
On the other hand, I met a couple of local hunters who went out of their way to tell me ( a complete stranger) all about their finds in the area.
I may have been caught short with my travel scoop but my travel intel was spot on.
A little trick I relied on before traveling was to google posts by local beach hunters close to this beach on the metal detecting forums.
Thanks to the internet I learned that things had been slow for quite a while on the local beaches and the trend continued through my only early morning beach hunt. 
Lessons learned from my Boston trip, be better prepared to travel and detect, its good to be king of the local beach, and use the internet to find out what the locals are posting on the metal detecting forums. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whisper signals

One of the cool things about shallow water hunting is that look of gold and precious stones sparkling in the bottom of your scoop when you least expect it. 
Most of the nice surprises in water hunting come from whisper signals, faint low or high tones that are on the edge of your metal detectors detection range. 
If you are walking too fast through the water, sweeping your search coil too fast or not keeping your search coil level enough, I doubt you have experienced the thrill of finding gold jewelry by digging a whisper signal.  
You may also miss whisper signals in rough water close to shore as you struggle against the strong current or rough surf. 
This 18K gold ring with three 1/2 carat diamonds was found searching in rough surf last year, a few days after hurricane Sandy had passed by the South Florida coastline.

Instead of moving around in the water using a north/south or east/west search pattern in the water, I anchored myself in place using my long handled heavy stainless steel scoop.
With my body sidewards to the incoming surf,  I swept my search coil slowly all around the position I was anchored in.  
If I heard the slightest signal, I would slowly wiggle or hover my CTX 3030 search coil over the target to enhance and make the signal stronger. 
The wiggle technique is something I am sure many experienced Excalibur and Sovereign users are familiar with. 
I never stepped away until I could hear no other targets, I then repeated the small circles search a few feet away.
I did this unusual technique to combat the surf ,and to give me a chance to hear all possible targets in the area.  
Most of the good jewelry finds from this hot spot were deep and would have easily been missed by a water hunter moving with the surf. 
Another whisper signal I can clearly remember shocking me when I first saw it in my scoop was this 18K mans ring with a 5 carat emerald. 

If you are fortunate to recover multiple gold jewelry finds in an area, try your hardest to recover the deeper and often bigger items of gold jewelry.
Bigger and deeper gold jewelry finds are not going to be a big blamming knock your headphones off signals, that is why so many faint whisper signals turn out to be good surprises.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sometimes less is more

I have so many beach sites that I search where I have not yet seen another person metal detecting. 
Yesterday I picked up another couple of potential hidden gem sites to search, after stopping to let some people cross the road with beach chairs. 
Both times I stopped to let people cross the road to go to the beach I pulled off the road and watched where they were heading.  
I walked onto the beach at one of those small beach entrance areas and saw five people of people using the beach.  
I assume that this little area probably sees about 10-15 people a day on the beach in season, or 280 to 420 people a month!!  
Combine the two sites I discovered and that is a lot of gold jewelry that I now have the the best chance of finding. 
The less competition you have, the more chance you have of finding gold jewelry.  
If you know the competition by sight, where they hunt, what metal detector they use and their favorite times to metal detect, you need to do some scouting around for new sites. 
Being well known at a site is the kiss of death for a gold jewelry hunter, the only way you get well known by the competition is because you are part of the crowd hunting the same beach.
I wonder where that guy is searching is a much better compliment to a jewelry hunter, it often means you are finding gold jewelry!
Heres an example of the kind of gold jewelry waiting for an adventurous jewelry hunter, willing to search a small beach that suited up water hunters would not give the time of day to because there are not lines or stacks of sun loungers on the beach. 

Less beach goers, less beach and water hunters, often add up to more gold jewelry!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Good signs

This morning I had a three hour water hunt and spent a lot of time moving around, trying to find a promising site in mushy "sanded in" conditions.  
I was not moving around searching for rocks or hard pack sand, as everywhere was pretty much the same bad conditions along the stretch of tourist beach I had chosen to hunt. 
I was searching for signs or clues that gold jewelry may be present in an area.
Promising signs that an area has not been recently searched by other water hunters on this popular south Florida beach.
As soon as I started to find nickels, dimes and quarters I knew I had run across a promising area. 
These three types of coins when found in numbers are normally golden and should be viewed as attractive gold signs. 
Because these three types of coins are so attractive to metal detectors, there is no way they would have still been there if the area had been hunted recently. 
Water hunters have a bad habit of completely giving up on a whole beach if the main one or two popular hot spots are sanded in. 
My four pieces of gold jewelry from this morning, just goes to show that even in sanded in conditions you can still find gold.  

Staying close to the sand bar that initially caused the sanded in conditions will insure that you have a fighters chance of finding gold jewelry in fluffy sand. 
The piled up sand closer to shore must have come from somewhere right?  
My knowledge of the local beach and my previous gold jewelry finds at hot spots along this stretch gave me the motivation to keep moving until I found some good attractive gold jewelry hunting signs. 
I also found several pieces of silver and junk jewelry, probably exposed after sand was pushed closer to shore.  
You have a short window of opportunity searching for gold jewelry around flattened sand bars, but any window is better than no opening on a sanded in beach. 
Move and look for good signs, don't just go home! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Face value

Heres a little tip for the next time you are searching an eroded section of beach. 
We all know that one of the best beach hunting situations is a cut beach, and I am sure many people have heard of the term "hunted out old cuts" but are they? 
I found these relics left over from the 1830s Seminole indian wars in a "hunted out" cut a couple of years ago using a small search coil to sweep the face of the cut. 

The majority of beach hunters only see two ways to search a cut, along the base of the cut and away from the cut. 
There is also a face to the cut which can be quite lucrative as it is never hunted as thoroughly, if at all. 
The best accessory to use is a small 5 to 8- inch search coil,  which may be the reason the face of the cut is hardly ever searched. 
Holding a metal detector with a 10-inch, or bigger search coil trying to sweep the face of the cut is hard work. 
Many metal detectors start to false when you try sweeping your search coil vertically, you may have to adjust your control settings.
Searching the face of a cut is a little different to normal beach detecting, as you are not concerned with depth or target separation
You just need to make sure that you cover the face, trying to find a good find that did not tumble out of the cut.  
My finds from this cut face were in good condition which means they probably never saw any saltwater.

If you know the history of the beaches you search, when the water gets unusually high you will know what it is possible to find at the back of the beach. 
There is no such thing as a hunted out area when you think outside the box and use different search techniques.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Knowing where to search

I recently saw an interesting thread on a metal detecting forum about reading the beach.  
From the responses given to the guy asking the question, you would think that it only takes a couple of hours to learn how to the read the beach. 
Cuts, low spots and hard packed areas, about sums up the cavalier approach to most of the forum experts.
Nothing could be further from the truth, two years not two hours is a better time frame to experience a wide variety of beach and shallow water hunting conditions.
There is much more to learning how to read the beach and water than three obvious prime metal detecting situations.
Beach and water reading skills are the things you use to find treasure when the "forum experts" and local beach conditions bloggers are complaining about sanded in conditions, increased competition and lack of finds.

Beach and water reading skills should also include knowing the following;
The history of your local beaches
Productive hot spots on the beach 
The people using the beach and where they congregate on the beach and in the water.
The location of any shipwrecks
The way storm surges effect the beach
The habits and hunting styles of your local metal detecting competition
The seasonal tide patterns for your area
The hours of beach tractor cleaning operations
Local beach parking hours 

Your beach and water reading skills put you in position to find treasure, your basic metal detecting techniques make sure that you do not miss that treasure.
Only searching for a cut or a low spot on the beach is not reading the beach,  it is missing the big treasure hunting picture. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Quality over quantity

I find it amusing when other beach hunters use the excuse that I live in a place with a lot of tourists, therefore I should find more jewelry. 
It is even more amusing when other beach hunters come down to Florida, spend days or weeks jewelry hunting and go home empty handed. 
It takes a lot of research, beach and water reading skills, hard work and determination to find top shelf jewelry on a consistent basis no matter where you live. 
More tourist beaches usually translates to more beach and shallow water hunters,and fierce competition for jewelry finds.
As you can see by this display of platinum, gold and diamonds, I am not a numbers guy and prefer to go for quality over quantity.

That same popular beach everyone else is pounding for fresh drops every day with their hunting buddies is never going to be as productive as a site that you researched and discovered for yourself.
Instead of getting in line to fight for scraps at the main beach, try researching the beach with an eye towards the people using it. 
Crowded beaches full of surfers and college kids are like catnip to beach and water hunters, who see the crowded beaches and start purring.
Every beach has a section that is popular with an older crowd or families, they are perfect places to search. 
You may not get as many signals as the crowded younger hang outs in front of beach side bars or water sports rental locations, but the quality of finds will more than make up for the longer quiet time between targets. 

These heavy platinum bands were not lost by college kids on spring break, they are the kind of finds I knew I was likely to find because of the people using a certain part of the beach.
Reading the beach is not always about searching for low spots or crowded areas on tourist beaches. 
Beach and water reading skills also involve knowing what you are searching for, and knowing where you are likely to find it.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Towel line finds

Do not forget the dry sand when finds slow down in the wet sand or shallow water.
I recently got a little over zealous on the water hunting and forgot just how productive the towel line can be, until returning home  early this morning with two pieces of gold jewelry after changing tactics.  A 14K gold necklace and 18K gold band, courtesy of my CTX 3030 and the towel line.

The beauty of the towel line is that you never know what will show up in your scoop, finds like this 1887 Morgan dollar found a couple of years ago on a popular south Florida tourist beach. 

It was probably taken to the beach by a kid as play money, this is not the first time I have I found old play money on the beach. 
I remember finding three mint condition 1920s silver dimes in one scoop a few years before finding the old silver dollar.
The towel line is a busy area on the beach, why would you not want to search one of the beach hot spots.
Early morning beach hunting is one of the best times for searching the towel line, especially on tourist beaches with nightclubs or bars in the area. 
Using a headlamp before the sun rises will help you to see any good targets left behind by courting couples and party animals a few hours earlier. 
The main items found along the towel line in the early morning hours are sunglasses, watches, cameras, cell phones, wallets, jewelry and keys.  This 10K gold grill is a more recent dry sand find.

 I have found and returned many cellphones, wallets, cameras, car keys etc to happy but groggy people thankful that I tracked them down or gave their belongings to the local lifeguard. 
Hopefully you get the point of todays blog entry, there is a ton of stuff lost along the towel line, including gold and silver jewelry.
A water hunter or wet sander who never searches the dry sand is missing out by box hunting.
The next time you hear someone complaining about the beach being sanded in, you will realize that they are most probably a water hunter or wet sander. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Narrow search patterns

Extra long straight shafts and extra large search coils are not the answer to dealing with sanded in conditions.
You have to keep a tight search pattern to cover the beach correctly, especially when searching during slow treasure hunting times.
Try not to over extend your search coil sweeps, only extend your sweep a couple of feet past your shoulders. 
Never use a metal detector like you are trying to cover the whole beach. 
You trade depth and sensitivity to small jewelry when you try to cover extra real estate with the long shaft, extra large search coil or a combination of both.
People sweeping large search coils have to sweep faster to keep the heavier search coil moving, leading to sloppy metal detecting techniques and missed targets.
This Tiffany & Co Platinum and diamond ring was found on a heavily hunted south Florida tourist beach last year.  

I was searching in the dry sand, just to the side of another dry sander ahead of me who was lifting his search coil at the end of each sweep. 
The platinum ring was found in line where the other guy was raising his search coil.
Many beach and shallow water hunters mistakenly believe that you have to cover as much of the beach as possible to be successful.
I would rather search less ground correctly than more ground incorrectly, tighten up your search patterns and leave the beach happy knowing that if gold was there you would have found it. 
In my opinion, it is not the amount of beach you cover, it is how you cover the beach! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

High tide pickers

I still see that a majority of beach hunters are using the outdated two hours before low tide theory of the best time to go beach hunting passed around on the internet metal detecting forums. 
You can actually tell the tide times on most beaches by the amount of beach and water hunters that show up at the same time, two hours before low tide. 
If you are a smart beach hunter, you can find gold and silver while the keyboard beach hunting experts are busy waiting for the "best time" to go beach hunting. 
Two high tides every day give you a chance to find easy shallow targets washed up along with the sand, seaweed and shells.  
Just like beachcombers looking for shells, you can often walk along the high tide line and be rewarded with a cool find fresh from the ocean. 
Let the guys obsessed with having the deepest metal detector with the largest search coil wait around for low tide,  while you search for the easy gold and silver within the first two or three inches.
Sometimes gold and silver is just laying in the high tide line waiting to be picked up.
I bent down and picked this nice piece of Spanish 1715 fleet silver plate off the beach at high tide several years ago.  

Of course there were no other beach hunter in sight because they were probably still at home reading the local Treasure Coast blog and waiting for someone to tell them when to go beach hunting. 
I rescued this gold turtle ring with rubies on a tourist beach high tide line, this type of unusual shaped jewelry can often be found in the high tide line. 

Odd shaped jewelry and designer sunglasses become snagged and tangled in seaweed and wash up on the high tide. 
Many beach hunters avoid high tide lines because of the high amount of bottle caps and pull tabs on trashy beach sites.
As these photos show, if you have the high tide line all to yourself you can take the time to dig a few extra trash finds and pick up any easy targets using your twin optical scanners. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Back where you started

I have noticed a strange pattern to a few of my jewelry finds over the last few years, it has happened to me too many times now for it not to be a pattern. 
Several years ago I planned to search a local beach, to try and beat the Saturday morning metal detecting crowds.
I drove towards the beach at 7am and saw four people already searching in the shallow water, as you would expect I continued on to the next beach. 
Two people were already water hunting at the next site so I tried a little straight line detecting in front of this long strip of tourist beach. 
After 30 minutes of metal detecting I turned around and headed back to where I had walked onto the beach. 
Another 30 minutes and now just a few feet past my initial starting out point, I picked up this 1.5 ounce 14K gold chain and cross encrusted with diamonds.  

This is not the first time this has happened to me, and I am sure it will not be the last.
Finding a piece of gold just past the place where I initially started searching. 
I figured the gold and diamond chain was a good investment for an hour of metal detecting at the beach and headed towards home.
As I drove past the first beach I had intended to search, I decided as it was still early I would try the shallow water in front of the four guys still searching the deeper water. 
They all had wet suits, snorkels and masks and looked like they were water hunting in pairs, I would later find out they were full time water buddy hunters from one of the South Florida metal detecting clubs. 
My second signal in the water turned out to be this yard of gold, a 36 inch 14K gold chain weighing 2.5 ounces!  

4 ounces of gold and diamonds in two short hunts finding gold close to my starting out points. 
I know the full timers searching the deeper water had not moved very far from where I first saw them earlier. 
This story just goes to show that gold is sometimes just where you first walked onto the beach or into the water. 
I always make a point to take a little extra time searching the area around where I start hunting, just in case gold is exactly where I thought it would be.