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Monday, December 29, 2014

Tractors on the lower beach

My first diamond ring of 2014 came out of the water last February, with a little help from the local beach tractor driver. 
Tourist beaches with tractors that rake the beach can be a pain, especially when you are getting plenty of signals on the lower beach before dawn. 
A week before I found this 18K white gold ring with a 3/4 carat diamond, I watched a tractor demolish a nice cut and push the sand from the cut down towards the water. 

I could not return until the next weekend to this beach,  walking onto the beach I saw no visible signs to what had taken place the previous weekend. 
The lower beach was sanded in, but just inside the water I quickly became busy scooping lots of coins and a few pieces of silver jewelry. 
I am pretty sure everything I was recovering in the water had been pushed in off the beach at that location. 
I liken the lower beach to a sandy conveyor belt, coins and jewelry move onto and off the beach by way of the tides, or in this case with a little help from the beach tractor driver. 
If you see a tractor or bulldozer moving sand around on the lower beach, always check out the area on the beach. 
Dont forget to also check out the water opposite, just in case anything of value has been pulled off the sandy conveyor belt and is waiting for you to detect and scoop up. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Metal detecting over rocky areas

I ran across a few rocky areas on the interior of Oak Island Nova Scotia, but I still used a large search coil instead of a small search coil.  
Normally a small search coil would be a better choice for metal detecting in and around rocky areas. 
The large 17 inch search coil on my CTX 3030 performed really well, on both large and small size targets. 
Sweeping my 17 inch search coil just above the top of the rocks, I recovered two Indian head pennies in a craggy inland area.
I figured just above the rocks, my 17 inch search coil was 7 or 8 inches above the surface of the ground and I would still detect targets a good 9 or 10 inches below the surface. 
These two Indian head cents are dated 1905 and 1908, they both came out of the same hole between two rocks. 

When you are metal detecting over rocks, it is wise to consider the depth advantage of a really big search coil.
A 6 inch search coil on my CTX 3030 would have been easier to move around the craggy rocks, but I actually got better target depth sweeping the large 17 inch search coil over the tops of the rocks. 
I also covered the craggy ground a little faster, not having to go around every nook and cranny in the rocks. 
The size of the rocks in a rocky area will dictate what size search coil is best to use.
A couple of years ago I reverted back to using a hand held pin pointer to help me recover targets in rocky areas. 
I know from my beach hunting experience that the harder it is to recover a target in a rocky area, the less hunted that area will be. 
Large search coils, pin pointers and screened metal detectors, can all help you to have success in difficult to detect rocky areas. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Searching old landing areas

Many islands have old landing areas, places where people would have landed by boat and walked onshore.
I found several old landing areas on Oak Island Nova Scotia this summer, the area in this photo was known as the wharf. 

It was the site of an old wharf in the late 1700s and an obvious place for a beach treasure hunter to metal detect. 
There was no signs indicating an old wharf,  just clues to the general location in references to the history of Oak Island. 
The dated 1770 English copper coin and musket ball were recovered from the rocky shoreline at low tide. 
No doubt, typical pocket spills from people landing ashore around this area in the late 1700s.
I used a two pronged approach to searching the area at low tide, one that I would typically use on the Treasure Coast of Florida searching for old treasure coins and artifacts. 
I used my 11 inch search coil first to help me locate shallow targets, then switched to the large 17 inch search coil to help recover any deeper targets. 
There was quite a bit of iron on this rocky beach,  and I had more success using the smaller search coil than the larger search coil. 
Over several low tides I searched the lower rocky beach from different angles and recovered a pocket full of musket balls, several US and English navy buttons and an early 1600s coin. 
It made a change not having to worry about sand washing in and covering the area, like it would on beaches back in Florida. 
If you live near a river or an island, with a little detective work you may discover sites used as landing areas. 
I lived near a tidal river in England, the river banks opposite old landing areas were my favorite bottle hunting sites. 
Coins and artifacts lost centuries earlier, are often still trapped within reach on rocky shorelines close to landing areas. 
You may have to wait a while on sandy beaches, but at least you can be prepared for when the sandy beach is eroded. 
In a way I was well prepared for searching this landing area on Oak Island, beach and water hunting for modern jewelry is all about searching sites where people get in and out of the water. 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Is it all in the water?

In my opinion, it is not all in the water but if you know what you are doing you can recover a heck of a lot of jewelry and coins in the water.
I do a lot of water hunting, but I always try to keep my metal detecting time balanced to around 50% beach hunting and 50% water hunting.
That way I get the best of both worlds by not completely ignoring half the beach.
I know many "Experts" on the detecting forums say its all in the water and to only water hunt, but that is very bad advice for beginners.
You should always learn how to use your metal detector on the beach, before venturing into the water.
Imagine how long it would take you to learn how to set your metal detector controls, sweep speed and search coil control in the water.
Unfortunately that is how many people get into water hunting, not taking the detecting skills you can only learn on the beach into the water.
My latest book "Water Hunting" shows the connection between beach and water hunting and how great beach hunters make top notch water hunters.

I took a client out this morning for an Excalibur training session, it was pleasantly surprising to know that he wanted to learn how to use his Excalibur on the lower beach before starting water hunting.
Target recover skill's are an over looked part of water hunting, if you are proficient recovering targets in the wet sand with waves rushing over your search coil, you should have no problem recovering targets inside the water.
I always know when I am following a novice water hunter, by the big wide holes left behind by someone who has not learned to pinpoint targets, I have found plenty of jewelry in and around clumsily dug holes inside the water.
Metal detector control settings are the most important reason to learn how to metal detect on the lower beach before water hunting.
Water hunting is easier when you know how your metal detector handles itself on the lower beach next to the waters edge.
You can make control adjustments and know why you are using those settings, instead of using a bunch of safe settings passed around and used by everyone on an internet forum.
Metal detector control settings for water hunting, usually mirror lower beach settings, but tweaked to suit the surf conditions.
In my opinion, both the beach and water are equally good places to find jewelry and coins.
You just have to use your knowledge of local beaches and site reading skill's to determine where your best chance of finding jewelry or coins is going to be.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In the wrong place at the right time

I like to mix things up when I go beach or shallow water hunting, trying not to be too predictable.
When I post a piece of modern jewelry or an old coin, there is usually a different reason why I was able to recover the object.
Last weeks gold jewelry was recovered because I checked out a beach I had not been to in a while, the old shipwreck finds were recovered the same way.
I prefer to go with the flow, instead of doing the same things all the time and expecting different results like many other beach and water hunters.
The $3200.00 designer Mimi So platinum band in this photo is a good example of going with the flow and seeing what happens.

I recovered this heavy platinum band, a short time after trying to help a tourist from California find her diamond earring.
The lady had me walk several hundred yards to a less used part of the beach to an area she lost the earring.
Unfortunately I could not recover the ear ring because a few tides had passed since she lost it, but the area was interesting and I decided to stay in the water and just see what happened.
The easier and more predictable thing to do would be to return to the busier part of the beach, if I did that the platinum ring would still be waiting to be found.
The Tiffany platinum 1.4 carat diamond ring, was another similar story but one that involved using a different metal detector.
It's no secret that I like to use Minelab metal detectors with discrimination to find jewelry at trashy tourist beaches, but this trophy find was recovered using a Minelab SDC 2300 pulse induction metal detector at a trashy tourist beach.
Using a pulse at a trashy tourist beach would normally not be the best jewelry hunting policy, but after arriving at my intended search site something unexpected happened, the parking lot in the area I had planned to search was closed down for a construction project.
As you can see by the photo, a $10.000.00 Tiffany diamond ring with my name on it was waiting in the water at the next beach down the road.
The nearest alternative site was a beach I normally would not have searched, because I have found so much jewelry at the original beach I had intended to search.
One of the things I really like about metal detecting is the unpredictability of the hobby, the fact that you can find anything almost anywhere. 
What better motivation to try searching new areas, or use a different beach or water hunting technique. 
Sometimes it is good for a beach or shallow water hunter to be in the wrong place at the right time. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

High surf advisory beach hunting

As expected, I received a lot of messages earlier in the week after high surf had pounded the Florida coast line.
The majority of messages were from people asking me where to hunt, during and after the expected beach erosion had taken place earlier in the week.
My advice for the people lucky enough to have time to go treasure hunting, was to look around and pick a spot.
Even though the high surf was pounding the east coast,  the lure of old treasure coins and modern gold "Tourist droppings"was not enough to make me pull a "Ferris Bueller" and go treasure hunting.
I knew from the wind and surf direction that beach erosion would be sporadic and my advise not to go metal detecting would be ignored.
Knowledge of the beaches being effected and the surf and wind direction, told me to wait a few days and scout around for sporadic cuts on the upper beach or attractive areas on the lower beach.
Sometimes, knowing when not to go metal detecting is more important than the old saying of you never know unless you go.
The beauty of knowing your beaches , mean you always probably know before you go.
The seven pieces of gold jewelry I have recovered on my last three beach and water hunts have come from areas effected by unusually high surf.
On my last three hunts, I have metal detected three hours, one hour and two hours.
Three short hunts at sites I knew would probably look good before I arrived to search them.
Beach web cams in the areas close to the sites and prior knowledge of the sites, told me where to concentrate my search.
I walked away from two other sites that were not as good as I expected them to be.
My metal detecting time is fairly limited, relying on knowledge of how high surf effects the beaches I search helps me to increase my chances of finding something good.
During times of high surf or after beach erosion has taken place, is when your knowledge of local beaches pays off. 
The more beaches you visit and search, the more future sites you have when high surf pounds the coastline. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Taking advantage of a full moon low tide

Yesterday afternoon I was actually disappointed that I only returned home with four pieces of gold jewelry, I was expecting to find more.
My beach and water hunting time has been very limited lately, only having 3 hours to water hunt I relied on my knowledge of local beaches and the extra low tides of the full moon.
I waded waaaaaay offshore at low tide, to an area in the water that has a coral ledge.
I have found a lot of gold jewelry in the past at this site when no sand was covering the ledge, I ran across this offshore coral ledge back in 2007 and it has been productive for gold jewelry during sanded in beach conditions. 
Yesterday the coral ledge was covered over by several inches of sand, but it was possible to use a scoop to recover targets.
Standing chest deep on the coral ledge, I recovered targets by "Bobbing and fanning" literally bobbing down in the water and fanning sand off the target area.
All of these coins in the photo were recovered bobbing and fanning, 32 quarters, 32 nickels and 29 dimes, I threw all the corroding pennies in a trash can before leaving the beach.

93 coins for the parking meter and 4 pieces of gold, 1 silver ring and three lead fishing weighs.
This just goes to show just how many targets you can detect if you try different methods of beach hunting, even on quite heavily hunted beaches.
I saw three other people metal detecting closer to shore, doing the usual stuff, walking in straight lines close to shore hoping to get lucky and find a piece of fresh dropped jewelry.
If I was a betting man, I would wager I found more coins and jewelry than all the other three water hunters combined.
By the amount of targets I recovered, I was probably the last person to detect that area a few full moons ago in the summer.
When you learn about the make up of beaches in your area, you will know the best times to hit them to take advantage of certain areas. 
This is just one example of how knowledge of your local beaches can be just as important as knowing how to read the beach and water. 
Local beach knowledge is the reason why a local beach or water hunter, always has an advantage over raiders from out of town.
Full moons, high surf, calm water, all help you to put gold in your pouch when you know where to search and when to search. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hardcore digging

When I take my CTX 3030 and 17 X 13 inch search coil to the beach, I know I am going to be in for some hardcore digging. 
The winter time in Florida is the best time for beach treasure hunting, I spend the majority of my metal detecting time searching for Spanish treasure coins and artifacts in the winter. 
An all metal search mode and a large search coil are a perfect combination for getting down into deeper layers of sand where many treasure coins and artifacts are found. 
You need the surf and wind to help remove sand from the beach, but when the beaches are eroded you are ready for action when you have an extra large search coil. 
Many beach and water hunters shy away from large search coils, because they are not known for being very sensitive to small targets. 
Two search coils I have been very impressed with are the Coiltek 14 inch "Wot" coil and the 17 X 13 inch smart coil on my CTX 3030. 
Both search coils are capable of finding large targets at depth, and small shallow targets. 
You do not have to sacrifice small targets like silver half reales when searching for large deep targets like silver eight reales. 
A few years ago I found a single link of a 14K figaro gold chain, at quite a good depth using a Wot coil on my Sovereign GT.  
I found small treasure coins and artifacts on Oak Island Nova Scotia at very impressive depths using the 17 X 13 inch coil on my CTX 3030, both inland and on the beach. 
The iron spikes in this photo were found earlier in the year on the lower beach, opposite a Spanish galleon from the early 1600s here in Florida. 

Digging knee deep holes for iron ship spikes is no fun on the lower beach, but you never what other valuable target may be resting close to iron in deeper layers of sand. 
I talk a lot about discrimination and trying to find gold jewelry in amongst the trash on tourist beaches.
In my opinion, discrimination and smaller search coils are the way to go on trashy tourist beaches. 
Searching for old treasure coins and artifacts on shipwreck beaches with little modern trash calls for pure depth, especially when you know the large search you are using is also sensitive to small targets at reasonable depths. 
Nothing beats a good pulse induction metal detector for depth and sensitivity to a wide range of targets. 
The VLF metal detector in all metal with an extra large search coil is a good alternative option for beach or water hunters looking for more than a little extra depth.
No matter what metal detector you use, an extra large search coil is a good investment if you search beaches with a little history. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An example of how small gold jewelry finds, lead to large gold jewelry finds

This summer I went water hunting at one of favorite small beaches, in the hope of finding high end jewelry lost by people using the beach from a private beach club.  
It is quite a hike to the private beach, but it is often worth the extra long walk when you find something good. 
After walking to the destination,  I got straight into the water to cool down and see if I had left enough time between visits to the site. 
Unlike busy public beaches, small private beaches take longer to restock with lost coins and jewelry. 
A small thin 18 gold diamond band was a good sign, a second diamond band followed before things started to quiet down. 

After gridding the water opposite the private beach club with very few signals, I made my way back to the area I recovered the two thin diamond bands. 
Circling and wiggling my search coil between raised sand ripples on the ocean floor, I picked up a faint signal which I assumed was the missing piece of a three diamond band set. 
The heavy platinum band rolling around in the bottom of my scoop was a pleasant surprise,  and a perfect example of why big pieces of gold or platinum are easier to find when you have your metal detector tuned correctly to find small gold. 

This has happened to me too many times for it to be a coincidence, I say again small gold leads to large gold. 
Large gold and platinum bands, are often recovered from deeper layers of sand than small pieces of gold jewelry. 
Although small and large gold may sound the same on your metal detector, if you cannot hear small gold, you will certainly not hear large gold, or platinum in this example. 
I dare say 80% of people reading todays blog have never taken small pieces of gold jewelry to the beach to see if you can actually detect them, take a broken gold band to the beach for a real eye opener. 
Place the small pieces of gold jewelry in plastic baggies, just in case you do have difficulty recovering them. 
Testing your metal detectors response to small gold will tell you how you are going to do with large gold. 
Tweak your metal detector sensitivity control, try difference sweep speeds, see how a different size search coil works, anything that helps you detect small gold. 
Where you find high small gold jewelry, large gold jewelry is often hiding in the same area at a deeper level. 
Do not be surprised to find both small and large gold sounding the same, if you know how to recover the harder to detect small gold.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Think small, find big!

I try to set up and tune my metal detectors towards finding small pieces of gold jewelry. 
If you click on the link to my website, you will see plenty of photographs of ladies rings with precious stones. 
Over the years spent beach and water hunting, I am happy to say my jewelry finds have got smaller and more expensive. 
If you are finding a lot of thin ladies rings, you are probably using sound beach and water hunting techniques and have a metal detector you really like using. 
Thin ladies rings with precious stones are harder to find with a metal detector, than large gold wedding bands and class rings. 
A beach or water hunter who can find small pieces of gold jewelry, will have no problem finding large chunks of gold jewelry. 
Here is a photo of some chunks of jewelry, recovered while searching with a small gold jewelry mentality. 

When I am invited to speak at metal detecting events,  I often wear my Rolex Submariner, 18K gold chain with diamond mariners cross and antique 18K gold jade & diamond ring. 
You cannot beat wearing a few trophy beach and water hunting finds, to get the point across about learning how to read the beach and using good metal detecting techniques. 
Having the skills to recover small pieces of gold jewelry, like thin diamond rings, will lead to big gold jewelry finds. 
Finding small gold is important for a jewelry hunter,  it will help you to recover a large variety of jewelry. 
Not just gold wedding bands, or class rings, which many beach and water hunters have no problem finding, using a wide range of metal detectors.  
Finding a quarter or half ounce of gold is a nice pay day worth hundreds of dollars,  finding a thin ladies ring with a nice diamond can be a pay day worth thousands of dollars. 
Think small gold, find big gold, get the best of both pay days. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gold traps

I will start todays blog with a question, and give you the answer at the end of the blog. 
What is the best clue to the area shown in this photo being a gold trap ?

Hard packed sand on the lower beach, helps to trap gold in place for beach hunters. 
I saw two gold traps on a local thanksgiving day beach hunt,  an eroded section of upper beach with a three foot cut and a hard packed shell area close to the waters edge. 
I knew from experience that my best chance of finding gold was using an east west directional search pattern, from the base of the cut down to the hard packed sand next to the water. 
The cut appeared to be a couple of days old and was not very productive, but the hard pack sand towards the waters edge held many deep targets. 
Lead fishing weights were a good sign, and so were the encrusted "Greenies" in the area.  
Green encrusted coins and lead, are often the best indicators to a beach hunter that gold is also trapped in place. 
It was not long before an 18K gold bracelet came out of the area, followed by a 14K ear ring. 
Luckily for me, there are more water hunters than beach hunters at a majority of the local beaches I like to search. 
I class myself as a water hunter too, but I would never ignore gold traps on the lower beach caused by rough surf, the same rough surf that has caused water hunters to stay away from the beach. 
I could not imagine ignoring the lower and upper beach, especially gold traps like the ones I saw on thanksgiving morning. 
Hard packed sand and shells on the lower beach,  are often the strata where heavy objects settle or get trapped after sinking past mushy sand during sanded in conditions. 
When one area closes ( the water and water hunting) another area of the beach opens up, if you know what to look for and when to take advantage of it. 

The answer to my question at the beginning of todays blog is my size 10 dive boot print.  
Anytime you walk on a hard packed section of a recently "Sanded in" tourist beach and you barely leave a boot print, get ready to recover gold. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The CTX wiggle

I love searching trashy beach sites, where patience, persistence and perseverance are the keys to finding gold jewelry. 
If I have a hunch gold is the area, I will resort to wiggling gold,  standing still and slowly wiggling my search coil in short sweeps in a full circle around the area I am standing. 
I listen patiently for low tones, while ignoring high tone coin signals and the obvious blanking of ferrous targets using the CTX 3030 in my modified preset Beach Mode. 
The secret to using this search technique is to keep your search coil moving slowly but not to step away from the search area until you have detected in a full circle around the area you are standing. 
It is very rare to see a beach or water hunter not moving, the majority of beach and water hunters keep moving, especially when they run across an area stacked with pennies and bottle caps. 
When you know what gold sounds like, and you know there is a good chance gold is in the area, why move away? 
I wiggle in a circle,  step away and wiggle in a circle again, only stopping to scoop low tones using my CTX 3030. 
The majority of low tones using the CTX are either aluminum pull tabs, can slaw, nickels or hopefully gold. 
My slow wiggle search technique helps me to avoid target masking at trashy beach sites,  gold being masked by both iron and larger non ferrous targets. 
The short slow wiggle aids recovery speed,  your recovery speed is the time it takes your metal detector to detect another target after the last target was detected. 
The day I found this 22K raw emerald pendant while water hunting with my CTX 3030,  I could have easily walked away because of the high volume of targets in the area. 

Instead, I decided to spend a full two hours wiggling around for gold close to the very trashy beach entrance.
Notice how my CTX was able to detect the thin gold wire holding the raw emerald. 
When you go to the beach to metal detect, there are no written rules to beach and water hunting. 
As Jack Sparrows mate would say "More like a set of guidelines!" 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beach jewelry hunting by subtraction.

I often use my Minelab CTX 3030 when I am instructing people on how to use the Minelab Excalibur.
It is just easier to detect and identify a coin on the beach using the CTX 3030, then afterwards have the person I am teaching listen to the tone of the coin with the Excalibur.
This is a neat trick you can do with the CTX 3030, because of the FE /CO number read out on the display screen. 
I tell the person I am training, exactly what type of coin is buried under the sand, before asking them to scoop it up to confirm the coin denomination.
On an Excalibur training session yesterday, I told the guy to ignore the pennies I marked with an X in the sand and keep moving. 
He scooped several pennies up, before trusting my 12-36 and 12-37 penny IDs on the CTX 3030 screen.
The Excalibur instruction took place on a popular SW Florida tourist beach, a place where the CTX 3030 really makes life easy for a beach hunter. 
I consider clad coins on a tourist beach nuisance targets, as finding platinum and gold jewelry is my main objective. 
Although I prefer to hunt by ear, yesterday was the perfect scenario for hunting by numbers because of the high amount of clad coins on the beach. 
Ignoring high amounts of easy to identify clad coins, will allow a beach hunter to concentrate on searching for lost jewelry. 
I would rather return home and spend my time counting and cleaning jewelry, than wasting electricity tumbling coins and keeping a clad coin count. 
There is a reason why my bank safety deposit box is full of beach found jewelry, I am pretty fussy about what I allow to distract me from searching for jewelry on tourist beaches. 
Every clad coin a jewelry hunter stops to dig on a tourist beach, is one distraction further away from reaching their real goal of finding jewelry at the beach. 
Heres a couple of 18K diamond door knockers recovered over the last 18 months at one of my favorite beaches. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lower beach target recovery tips

Yesterday morning I took a client out for a Minelab Excalibur beach training session,  the surf was really rough and the guy wanted to know how to search the wet sand. 
This was perfect timing for learning how to recover targets in the wet sand with rough surf rushing in over the area. 
We hit the beach about an hour after high tide and I showed the guy how to search the ebbing tide with his Excalibur II.
Here are three points I shared about recovering targets in the wet sand close to the waters edge. 

1. Choice of recovery tool

The guys long handled aluminum scoop had a small coffee can size scoop basket with a wire mesh bottom,  making recovering targets difficult. 
Heavier stainless steel scoops with a good size basket, are much better for recovering targets on the lower beach. 
They do not move around when hit by waves, and they are less likely to get damaged by coral or rocks on the lower beach. 
There is also less chance of damaging a valuable object, if you use a long handled scoop with a large scoop basket. 

2. Know the pinpointing sweet spot.  

Every metal detector has a sweet spot, an area under the search coil where a target has the strongest audio response when pinpointing a target. 
Under most Double D search coils, the sweet spot is under the center of the search coil, on Mono search coils it can be slightly off center. 
The more time you spend on the upper beach learning how to pinpointing targets, the better you will be at recovering targets in the wet sand close to the water. 
If your metal detector has a built in pinpoint option, use it! 

3.  Scoop and dump

Shucking sand over the area you are scooping while standing on the lower beach, is a bad idea if waves are washing in over the wet sand.
A gold chain may slip through the holes in your scoop basket, or a gold ring may bounce out of your scoop  basket, fall into the water and get washed away while scooping.  
The best way of recovering targets in the wet sand with waves rushing over the area, is to scoop and dump sand away from the target area. 
Scoop, recheck the hole and surrounding area, if you hear no signal from the target, it is probably in the scoop basket full of sand. 
Walk a little higher up on the beach, away from the waves and dump the sand, so you can safely recover the metal object. 
Never scoop shuck or dump targets behind or to the side of the hole with waves washing over the area. 

These tips will help make sure you do not lose small shallow targets on the lower beach to the waves, like these Spanish 1715 fleet silver reales.

The 299 year old silver treasure coins were found a few years ago in stormy beach hunting conditions, using my Minelab Excalibur on the Treasure Coast of Florida. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Metal detecting over rocks on Oak Island

I had plenty of experience searching rocky beaches before I went to Oak Island to help Rick and Marty Lagina in their quest to find treasure.
I put that experience to good use by going against conventional wisdom and installing a large 17 X 13 inch search coil on my CTX 3030, instead of using a smaller search coil.
Both large and small search coils are excellent for searching over rocky beaches, although most beach hunters would assume a smaller search coil would be a better choice.  
I know I lose depth having to sweep my search coil over the top of rocks, but a very large search coil can still detect targets much deeper than an average size search coil over rocks.
This 1700s flat button was one of several buttons I found on Oak Island during filming of the show. 

When searching for old coins and artifacts in rocky areas, I often go for target depth over target separation. 
Many of my best Spanish treasure finds in Florida, have come from using large search coils on the beach. 
The perfect solution to metal detecting over rocks on a beach, is to own small and large search coils. 
Use a small search coil when searching on rocky tourist beaches, where target separation is important because of the high number of likely trash targets. 
Rocky beaches are always less hunted than sandy beaches, I often see beach and water hunters ignoring rocky areas. 
In my opinion, the reason why rocky areas are ignored, is because the majority of beach and water hunters rely on one size search coil. 
It also takes a special set of recovery skills to recover targets in rocky areas, and a few different recovery tools.
I wore  a modified tool belt, with needle nose pliers, flat head screwdriver and a pin pointer to help me locate and recover targets on rocky Oak Island beaches. 
It was also impossible to use a long handled beach or water hunting scoop, a big spade was the recovery tool of choice. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rough water hunting tips

My Sunday morning water hunt was out of necessity, I needed a gold fix and both the wet and dry sand did not look very promising.
I know the local beaches I hunt, my best chance of finding gold was fighting the 2-3ft swells and relying on the same swells to find gold.
The previous evening the wind picked up, I hoped any jewelry lost on the sand bar over the last week would have been pushed over the slope of the sand bar by the building surf.
The next low tide, made the water previously only accessible to swimmers open to jewelry hunting.
I took my Excalibur II and scooped up a large amount of clad coins between the sand bar and the wet sand.
Although I only found one 18K gold ring and a small silver  and malachite cross,  I was happy with the outcome of my 2.5 hour water hunt, especially considering the water conditions.

Never get discouraged by rough water hunting conditions, you often have the water to yourself during times of rough surf. 
Although competition from other water hunters has increased at many popular beaches, new water hunters do not yet have the skills necessary to metal detect effectively in rough surf.
When you are trying to metal detect in a strong current or getting pushed around by heavy surf, there are a few things you can do to help you locate and recover targets.

1. Heads up

Always keep your head on a swivel when you are trying to detect and recover targets in rough surf.
This is where your time spent pinpointing targets on the beach before beginning water hunting comes in handy.
Once you think you have pinpointed the target under water, turn side on to the waves and wait until the next wave has passed before attempting to scoop the target, try not to get hit mid scoop standing face on to a wave.
The average amount of time I spent scooping each target yesterday morning was two scoops, not bad at all for rough surf.

2. Search paralel to the beach

It is better to detect paralel to the shoreline, you can stop and turn to pinpoint and scoop, but avoid standing with your back to the incoming waves.
Trying to use an east / west search pattern, makes you vunerable to being knocked over in the surf on your return search line back towards the beach, it also makes recovering targets more difficult.

3. Use the correct equipment

Heavier open basket style stainless steel scoops are perfect for recovering targets in rough surf.
Pouches with zippers are better for rough surf hunters, you can open and close zippered pockets faster after a successful target recovery, than messing around with velcro fasteners. 
Your gold and silver is securely contained in the zippered pocket, if you lose your footing and get rolled over in the surf.

Little things make a difference in rough surf,  the name of the game is pinpointing and recovering targets in a timely manner.
Use the surf to open up Davy Jones Locker and the pinpointing and target recovery skills you learned on the beach to recover gold.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stop and find gold jewelry on tourist beaches

Earlier in the year, on easter sunday to be exact, I ran across a familiar tourist beach water hunting situation.  
Another chunk of gold jewelry with diamonds recovered because I read the signs, maybe a sign from the big fellow on easter sunday of all days lol! 

I could have easily missed the gold ring if I was a walker, instead of a gold stalker. 
I am not interested in walking long distances when beach or shallow water hunting, I would rather stop and pound an area for gold jewelry when I run across a good sign that gold may be hiding not far away.  
More than a single piece of silver or junk jewelry is a good sign, and a reason for any beach or shallow water hunter to stay in place until they find gold. 
I never go to a tourist beach to cover as much ground as possible, I go to pound potentially good area on the beach until I discover where gold jewelry is hidden. 
Gold jewelry can often be found in an area containing silver and junk jewelry, when you find more than one piece of junk jewelry you have a reason to stop and pound the heck out of an area like I do. 
If you follow this blog or my Facebook page, you will see a lot of silver and junk jewelry mentioned in my posts, but I rarely post photos of silver or junk jewelry. 
One of the reasons why I do not post junk jewelry is because I search on heavily hunted beaches.  
I do not want to give the area I found gold away, by posting anything the competition has thrown back down.
If you are lucky enough to run across an area with a lot of silver and junk jewelry, gold jewelry can be recovered if you stop and pound the area. 

From experience, I can tell you that it is better to stop and search an area with junk jewelry, than move along the beach hoping to find gold first. 
If a high number of silver and junk jewelry was lost in the area, so was gold jewelry, you just have to stay in place until you find it. 
Less walking and more scooping is always the best gold jewelry hunting strategy on tourist beaches. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Be prepared for ever changing lower beaches.

I use two very different search modes when using my CTX 3030 and I often use different size search coils, depending on what I am searching for.
A modified preset beach mode for gold jewelry hunting, or pattern 2 of the same preset beach mode when searching for old shipwreck coins and artifacts.
I compliment the search mode being used, by installing the size search coil that best suits the conditions I am presented with when I am actually standing on the beach.
In other words, I never limit myself by turning up at the beach without options. 
The key word when discussing the CTX 3030 is versatility, which is one of reasons why it is such a great metal detector for beach and shallow water hunting.
I get a kick out of seeing beach and water hunters on the US detecting forums, now using the CTX 3030 to discriminate junk and clad coins to get to gold jewelry faster on tourist beaches.
How do I put this nicely, I told you so and you are welcome!
My gold and silver jewelry finds from yesterday, show exactly what you can do on heavily hunted tourist beaches when you own a CTX 3030.
I emptied out my canvas finds pouch this morning,  it was full of nickels, pull tabs, lead fishing weights and a few foreign coins that I could not clearly identify so I fanned them out the rocks, just in case.
Silver rings were recovered because I modified the audio tones in the area on my detect screen where silver falls to a higher pitch.
I could just have easily decided not to recover silver, but on tourist beaches some design name silver jewelry can be worth more than gold jewelry.
Using the CTX 3030 to hone in on likely gold or platinum jewelry targets, requires having trust in your metal detector.
The opinion of many beach and shallow water hunters is predictable, you may miss a piece of gold that closely resembles a rejected trash target. 
I include clad coins as trash targets when searching for gold and platinum jewelry.
My answer to this fear of missing gold jewelry containing a heavy mix of alloys,  do not worry about the gold jewelry you may not detect, recover the gold jewelry you can and should recover.
A positive beach and water hunting strategy is much better than a negative beach and water hunting strategy.
I am reminded of the saying, move with the times or get left behind when I think about old school beach and water hunting ways.
Yesterday when I left my home, my CTX 3030 had the 17 x 13 inch search coil installed in preparation for metal detecting "Sanded in" beach conditions.
After sunrise, I spotted a rocky area in the shallow water, swapped out my search coil within minutes and jumped in the water with my CTX 3030.
You have such a big advantage over the competition, when you are ready for any beach or shallow water hunting opportunity.
Another factor that helped to make yesterdays jewelry hunt a golden success, was timing. 
I simply read the weather forecast before the busy weekend,  heavy rain with lightning was forecast for Sunday, which translates into tourist beach empty of jewelry depositors. 
There were three things that enabled me to have a successful jewelry hunt this weekend.
Owning a waterproof metal detector with the capacity to change search coils,  knowing where the rocks are at a sanded in beach, and knowing how to time my jewelry hunt.  

  18K yellow gold ring with 5 opals, heavy 18K white gold band. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Target recovery tips

I love searching for old Spanish treasure coins and artifacts on the beaches of the Treasure Coast of Florida.
Just as I do when searching for modern jewelry on tourist beaches, I really take my time when attempting to recover a target on the beach. 
I converted from using a closed basket style scoop, to an open scoop basket, so I stand less chance of breaking anything of value while trying to recover targets. 
Old shipwreck artifacts like these Spanish military buckles from the 1700s, are some of the things I typically hope to recover, in one piece if possible. 

You can still see the file marks on the left hand side buckle, the buckle on the right still has the pin attached. 
Both buckles were found at the same Spanish 1715 fleet shipwreck site, deep targets trapped in a layer of hard packed shelly sand on the lower beach.
When I try to recover targets that have a high probability of being old, I press the tip of my scoop basket at least 10 inches behind where I believe the center of the target is located. 
Pinpointing skills are easy when you really know your metal detector, but I still leave plenty of room to avoid hitting the target with the scoop basket.
I always take my time recovering targets, unless water is rushing in over the lower beach. 
When I use a digging tool or spade when searching inland, my preferred method of target recovery is to cut a plug.  
I cut a wide square shaped plug of soil using my digging tool or spade.
It is basically the same safe method of recovering targets on land, as I use on the beach. 
Luckily I have never broken anything old, or dinged a nice piece of modern jewelry. 
Recently I have started using a pin pointer more frequently on the beach, especially when searching rocky lower beaches. 
My pin pointer helps me to recover targets faster,  and again it can save you from scratching a potentially good target, instead of poking around in the rocks with a flat head screwdriver. 
Whenever I go beach hunting to a new site, I never assume there is nothing old to be found. 
I still try to scoop around targets, I learned the need to be careful when recovering targets many years ago while bottle digging in England. 
There is no worse feeling than seeing a fork tine sticking through the middle of a beautiful old bottle.  


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A high tide beach hunt

Sunday night I had a productive jewelry hunt,  waiting until the very end of the weekend to search for lost jewelry. 
I was rewarded for my patience with a 14K gold chain with 18K 1/2 carat diamond pendant and 14K gold ring.

I missed the high tide by about an hour, but still had the beach all to myself as other beach hunters in my area rarely show up to metal detect at high tide.
When you detect a high tide line,  depth or coil size is not that important, but sensitivity to small gold is. 
This is exactly why I took my Minelab SDC 2300 along, a metal detector that is sensitive to small gold. 
You often hear people saying "its all in the water", but the high tide line is an excellent place to find gold chains.
I know from experience that you have more chance of recovering a gold chain on the beach, than inside the water. 
If you are really lucky, on tourist beaches you may see a gold chain washed up along the high tide line. 
This has happened to me on at least six different occasions, following the high tide line and spotting a gold chain washed up or tangled in seaweed. 
During "Sanded in" conditions on tourist beaches, I like to plod along the high tide line very slowly using an all metals search mode.
I investigate all metal targets, to insure I do not miss anything of value being masked by bottle caps. 
It is really easy to skip digging bottle caps when you use a discriminating VLF metal detector, but bottle caps have a similar target signature as gold chains. 
A small broken tone from a gold chain can resemble a corroding bottle cap. 
Seaweed washed up along the high tide line, often puts people off searching a high tide line with seaweed, as not all metal detectors can deal with saturated seaweed. 
A false signal on every sweep over seaweed is no fun, and another reason why I use Minelab metal detectors for beach hunting. 
I guess todays blog shows you can find gold jewelry when you are not restricted to just metal detecting at low tide. 
The more unconventional a beach and water you are, the more jewelry you will find. 
Many long standing beach hunting principles are outdated, its time to think outside the beach hunting box!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Minelab Excalibur II beach and water hunting tips

Here are a few tips for Minelab Excalibur users. 

1.  Use the search mode that best suits the beaches you metal detect. 

This means hunting in Discrimination on trashy tourist beaches and Pinpoint (All metal mode) on less trashy beaches. 
There really is not that much of a depth advantage between the Discrimination and Pinpoint search modes on the Excalibur II to warrant digging all metal targets on tourist beaches. Unless you think all gold is magically trapped in the 10 to 12 inch depth range.   
You run the risk of getting bogged down digging junk targets in your search for deep gold, instead of eventually finding easier to recover shallow gold targets covering more ground. 
Know your beaches and use your knowledge of the local beaches and conditions to influence your choice of search mode.
Use the Pinpoint (all metal) search mode, or reverse hunting technique on less trashy beaches, especially on beaches known for old finds.
Old coins and artifacts are often encrusted in sand and coral, or attached to iron, the extra digging associated with using the Pinpoint search mode is worth the peace of mind knowing you are leaving anything good behind. 

2. Use it like you stole it! 

Get out of Auto Sensitivity as soon as you are comfortable using the Excalibur II, you get much better depth under normal beach and water hunting circumstances using manual sensitivity settings. 
After you turn your Excalibur II on, turn the Sensitivity control in small increments until it is a little chattery, back the sensitivity setting down to a point where you only get the occasional false signal when sweeping the search coil. 
You should be riding your sensitivity as hot as possible, and be prepared to tweak the sensitivity control over the course of a beach or water hunt. 
Adjust your sensitivity at least every half hour when covering large areas, or when you go from the water or wet sand to the dry. 
If you run across black sand, do not be afraid to try Auto sensitivity, it is better to sacrifice depth and find shallow targets, than find no targets at all by running at too high a sensitivity level.  
The car low beams being better in fog is a good way of explaining the problems of using too much power in black sand. 

3. Silence is not golden

When searching in trashy areas, you need to kill your sweep speed, or risk missing valuable targets.
Once your threshold (back ground noise) drops out when using the Discrimination mode, you are not detecting anything except iron! 
The time it takes for your threshold (back ground noise) to return, is commonly referred to as your metal detector recovery speed.
A slow recovery speed can make you miss gold, even if your search coil passes directly over a piece of gold. 
The bigger the iron object, the more chance you have of missing gold in trashy areas.
You can improve your recovery speed by sweeping your search coil very slowly in trashy areas, ultra slow sweep speeds on trashy sites increase the chances of picking up a partial or full gold signal response.
If you are not hearing a threshold, you are not actually detecting anything until the threshold returns. 

The Minelab Excalibur II has a great reputation and loyal following amongst beach and water hunters, when you use one you will know why. 

All of these tips and many more can be found in my Minelab Excalibur Pro User Guide, available on my website book page at or all good metal detecting stores.