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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Full moon beach or water hunting

It seems like every month I am writing about full moon beach or water hunting, ummm I wonder why?  
Maybe its because more real estate on the lower beach is exposed during the extra low tides. 
These two 18th century shipwreck artifacts, are full moon Treasure Coast beach hunting recoveries. 

They were found about 50 yards apart, but on two different full moons, which happens quite a lot with me. 
I found two large Spanish military buckles from the 1700s on another beach, same site and one full moon apart. 
Once you recover an interesting find on an old shipwreck beach, you have a very good chance of finding more interesting finds at the same site in the future. 
The hand made bronze ship spike is curved but intact, with the arrow head point and thick square head. 
The lead disc is one end of an 18th century cannon projectile known as an "Angel" you can still see where an iron bar or chain attached to it.  The bar or chain with two end pieces would have been fired from a cannon to take out a ships rigging. 
Whether you are a modern jewelry hunter, or shipwreck artifact hunter, you should be howling at the full moon if you have any productive beach or water hunting sites. 
The last couple of years I have done really well hitting offshore coral ledges, finding a lot of old gold class rings, but unfortunately the coral ledges are now covered over in a thick layer of sand. 
This afternoon I was scouting locations closer to shore,  I saw some very interesting areas on the lower beach I intend to search this weekend. 
Another good thing about the full moon, is not having to turn your flashlight on at night. 
Nothing beats the glint of gold in the moonlight, unless of course its a Spanish silver reale. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Changing beach and water hunting tactics

I try hard not to get stuck in a rut, by trying new equipment, search techniques or searching new areas. 
Sometimes I like to us a little discrimination, other times I will use no discrimination, whatever it takes to find what I am searching for. 
I would never tell beach or water hunters to only use one search mode, one metal detector, or to hunt one way, because beaches constantly change.  
Last year I went back to using pulse induction metal detectors to help me find jewelry on tourist beaches. 
The last time I met another water hunter while using a pulse in the water, he said I was crazy digging all targets so close to shore. 
Its understandable, using a pulse induction metal detector at a tourist beach is hard work. 
In my opinion, you have to really know your beach or water hunting sites to be an effective pulse hunter. 
The $10.000.00 Tiffany & Co platinum ring with 1.5 carat rock in this photo, says yes it is a little crazy to use a pulse induction metal detector at a tourist beach.

The expensive diamond ring was found last summer using my new waterproof Minelab SDC 2300, a metal detector that is perfect for cleaning out "Honey holes" at my favorite productive tourist beaches. 
I actually rely on my local competition using the same search modes and the same search techniques at every beach.
Same place, same day detecting, same metal detector, same style, same old same old. 
Last year I recovered a large variety of finds, by taking a chance and mixing things up on the beach and in the water. 
I found many different old finds, musket balls, bronze ship spikes, colonial coppers, and cut Spanish silver. 
At tourist beaches, I recovered big ticket diamond rings, gold chains and a Spanish gold escudo pendant. 
This year I will mix it up a little more and see what else I can cross off my beach and water hunting bucket list.
Beaches are constantly changing, but many beach and water hunters do not. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Step outside the box

The mans platinum and diamond ring in this photo was found just inside the waters edge at a south Florida beach back in November 2013. 

I have noticed over the last few years that I have recovered just as many top shelf jewelry finds in the dry and wet sand, as I have in the water. 
So many nice pieces of jewelry in all areas of the beach, that I describe myself as a beach and water hunter. 
Many people prefer to just search one part of the beach, I prefer to search all three areas of the beach at my favorite jewelry hunting sites. 
Last year, my best three ladies diamond engagement rings were all recovered from the main three areas of the beach. 
Those main metal detecting areas are the dry sand, wet sand and water, now imagine how empty the wife's jewelry box would be if I only searched one area of the beach all the time?
People who only search one area of the beach, usually struggle when that one area is void of targets. 
A few days of rough surf will stop a water hunter from metal detecting, sanded in conditions with play havoc with wet sanders, cold days will deter people from going to the beach, effecting dry sanders. 
If you search all three areas of the beach, you can simply move to a different area if one or two areas are not so good. 
The morning I recovered the mans platinum and diamond ring, the dry sand and wet sand was pretty quiet. 
Moving into the water, the amount of targets increased as the sand that was pushed up onto the lower beach put targets within detecting range in the shallow water. 
There is always somewhere to search at the beach, if you are not a box hunter. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Water hunting with a mask and snorkel

Living in south Florida I see many people using metal detectors in the water, but surprisingly few people like to wear a mask and snorkel. 
I know several full time water hunters who have never worn a mask and snorkel, but I still prefer to put my head under the water when possible. 
If you can see the bottom, wearing a mask and snorkel gives you a good chance of eyeballing jewelry, coins, paper money, cellphones or cameras. 
Every year I see at least a couple of really nice pieces of jewelry before detecting them,  I caught the gold ring in this photo out of the corner of my eye. 

I took my underwater camera out and took a snap, before picking the gold ring up and putting it in my finds pouch. 
The gold ring in the photo is laying in the sand to the left of the rocks. 
On crowded tourist beaches, I believe jewelry and other valuables are exposed by people walking in the water. 
The glint of gold or silver jewelry catches your eye on a sunny day, I spotted one of the biggest gold class rings I ever found laying on a rock, one sunny morning walking with my head under the water. 
One of the best times to eyeball jewelry in the water is early in the morning, this is especially true in rocky areas.  
I have lost count of the number of people who have told me tales of finding gold chains, bracelets and underwater cameras while snorkeling at the beach. 
Wearing a mask and snorkel is perfect for people like me, who prefer to concentrate their searches to smaller areas. 
A person who likes to cover a lot of water, most probably will not have the patience to wear a mask and snorkel when water hunting. 
Another benefit to wearing a mask and snorkel is being able to recover targets easier and faster in deeper water. 
If you have good water visibility, check out the marine life and hopefully eyeball jewelry. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Using different search patterns, or search modes over the same area

If you have been following this blog for a while or have read my latest beach or water hunting books, you will know I like to mix things up by using multiple search patterns over the same search areas.
Barely audible whisper signals using a VLF metal detector, or a slight waiver in the threshold using a pulse induction metal detector, can be deep targets on the edge of metal detecting range. 
These type of signals can easily be missed if you are not careful
This 1700s battle hatchet or trade axe, was a very deep target that I detected on Oak Island last summer using my CTX 3030 and 17 inch search coil. 

I credit the use of two different search patterns over the same area as the reason why I just caught a slight warble in my CTx 3030 threshold, alerting me to the iron artifact. 
You may be surprised to know what a difference sweeping your search coil from a different direction makes. 
Sometimes a target can be detected from one direction, but the same target cannot be detected sweeping your search coil from a different direction. 
A non ferrous target laying next to a ferrous (iron) target can sometimes only be detected using discrimination from one direction. 
If your search coil passes over the iron object first, the non ferrous target may be completely masked by the larger iron target. 
When I believe I have a good chance of recovering valuable targets on a shipwreck beach or tourist beach, I will use a little iron rejection as I search for treasure coins on shipwreck beaches or gold jewelry on tourist beaches. 
Afterwards I always search the same area using no iron rejection or discrimination. 
On multiple occasions I have recovered good targets being masked after removing ferrous objects in the same area.
I have a beautiful 1836 Seminole indian war gold coin and a big ticket platinum and diamond ring in the bank safety deposit box to prove using different search patterns or modes can be rewarding. 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rainy day Oak Island silver

I had a memorable rainy morning treasure hunt on Oak Island Nova Scotia last year, the reward for being a hardcore treasure hunter. 
Oak Island was getting lashed by driving rain as the rest of the cast and crew of the history channel show "The Curse of Oak Island" were eating breakfast and lamenting about the lost day of filming. 
Rick Lagina a hardcore treasure hunter in his own right, asked me if I still wanted to go metal detecting in such bad weather, my reply was hell yes! 
Of course, the opportunity to go treasure hunting on Oak Island helps you to stay motivated.  
I explained that the soaking wet ground would make any targets in the ground more conductive, so Rick and I got rain suited and booted to go metal detecting in an area close to a mysterious stone wall in the woods. 
The first target we dug that morning was an English 1797 King George III "Cartwheel" penny, followed shortly afterwards by a nice piece of silver. 

The old silver salt or sugar spoon handle dates to the late 1700s, early 1800s and has the silversmiths name Wm Miller and the initials of the person who bought the silver spoon. 

We found several flat buttons from the same era, at some pretty impressive depths because of the soaking wet ground. 
Rick and I were covered in mud, but loving every minute of the hunt and the opportunity to recover pieces of Oak Island history. 
This story goes to show that some of the best times to go metal detecting, are during less than ideal metal detecting conditions. 
Also what can happen when you stay motivated and keep a positive attitude. 
The last factor in this rainy day silver tale, is the importance of having the right equipment for the job. 
My CTX 3030 got soaked, covered in mud, but I was still able to continue metal detecting in the driving rain. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Looking for weekend fresh jewelry drops

Here in south Florida there are many tourist beaches to take your metal detector to,  especially if you are searching for fresh drops from the weekend. 
I could have gone metal detecting yesterday, but instead I chose to work and wait until the weekend is nearly over to increase my chances of recovering fresh dropped jewelry. 
I will let you know how my first jewelry hunt of 2015 turns out later today, hopefully I will see some gold in my scoop. 
As I mentioned in my previous blog, keeping a tight search pattern can be rewarding, assuming you use some kind of search pattern when jewelry hunting. 
Many beach and water hunters make the mistake of hitting the beaches early Saturday morning, before the weekend crowd has a chance to lose jewelry. 
Late Sunday evening and early Monday morning searches have always been more golden to me, especially on heavily hunted beaches. 
The competition on heavily hunted tourist beaches get thinned out during these times, as fewer people will go metal detecting late the night before work, or early before work on a Monday.
Searching after the weekend for fresh dropped jewelry is where your ground coverage skills really come into play. 
You can recover jewelry missed by other jewelry hunters in the area, by not making basic ground coverage mistakes. 
Avoid metal detecting in one straight line along the lower beach, or wandering around aimlessly up in the dry sand. 
Pick the most promising site and pound the heck out of it,  by using a search pattern and methodically covering the area. 
Search patterns actually increase your chances of finding jewelry, leave as little to chance as possible. 
As I have explained in my "Hardcore Beach Hunting" and "How to Read the Beach & Water" books,  jewelry is not lost in the same place along the same line every time on the beach or in the water. 
Although you would think it is, by the amount of people who search along the same line every time they go to the beach to metal detect. 
These fresh drops were recovered in the water last year using my CTX 3030, they were found in a section of water at a tourist beach I gridded out to give me the best chance of finding gold on a Sunday afternoon. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tight search patterns

I never try to cover large areas when beach or water hunting and I always use a tight search pattern.
From experience, I have found the less ground I try to cover, the more jewelry and coins I always recover. 
The morning I found this heavy 18K gold coin ring with 40 diamonds, I actually stood in place for 5 minutes waiting for a swimmer to pass so I could keep a straight line through the water. 

As I continued along the straight line I detected the gold coin ring, if I had strayed from my straight line I could have easily missed this ring. 
The funny thing about this story is I remember having to stay composed as I saw the ring in the bottom of my scoop basket.
Gold ring, gold coin and diamonds was the perfect trifecta, but it was better not to draw attention to myself by flashing the ring around.
Another person was metal detecting in the area and I did not want the gold coin ring giving the other person metal detecting an excuse to return to the site. 
Anyone who has read my beach and water hunting books, has probably read the phrase "It is not how much ground you cover, it is how you cover the ground" 
Beach and water hunting is often a game of inches, a few inches to the left or right could be all that separates you from your find of a lifetime. 
That is the reason why I pick an area of the beach to search, then hammer the heck out of that area. 
I slowly overlap my search coil sweeps, which helps me to cover the surface area and just as many inches in depth. 
Drag your scoop, follow your footprints, use visible markers on the beach as turn around points, anything to help you keep tight search patterns.
This heavy gold coin ring was deep, it was found because I kept a tight search pattern and used an ultra slow sweep speed on my Excalibur. 
Methodical beach and water hunters find more jewelry and coins, than beach and water hunters hoping to find jewelry and coins by covering the whole beach. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Metal detector overload signals

I have found some pretty cool stuff stopping to investigate overload signals on the beach and in the water. 
This old Nova Scotia license plate came out of a hillside on Oak Island this summer, not really treasure but an interesting find. 

I have recovered guns, small boat anchors and even a false leg in the water off tourist beaches in south Florida. 
Some of my best overload signals were on the Treasure Coast of Florida, clumps of iron encrusted ship spikes and even an old split shot used to take out ships rigging in the golden age of piracy. 
I always hope one day an overload signal on the Treasure Coast will turn out to be an encrusted clump of iron with gold and silver treasure coins attached, or a cannon. 
I have read too many success stories in metal detecting magazines to walk past a target giving off a large overload signal not to stop and investigate. 
The main reason why I always like to check out overload signals is because you never know what may be resting close to or underneath large ferrous and non ferrous objects on the beach and in the water. 
If you search the same beaches most of the time, you may be the only person having the treasure hunting sense to move large targets that give off overload signals.
I regular find gold jewelry after moving large ferrous and non ferrous objects on the lower beach and in the water. 
At some of my favorite beach and water hunting sites, I know where most large movable objects are in the area. 
I make a point of moving them around every few months to see if any jewelry has collected in the area and is now being masked. 
Masked being the word when it comes to movable overload targets on the lower beach. 
Both large ferrous and non ferrous targets mask valuable targets, so the next time you walk away from an overload target, think how easy it would have been to stop and move it to look for hidden treasure. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Loose lips and Spanish treasure coins

I will share a story I mention briefly in my "Hardcore Beach Hunting" book, about creating your own beach or water hunting competition.

Back in 2004 I was trying several new beaches along the Treasure Coast of Florida, after two hurricanes hit the coastline.
I assumed a small beach south of the site of a known Spanish 1715 fleet shipwreck , may have a few interesting things wash ashore through the centuries.
This beach sees far fewer detectorists to this day searching for treasure coins, than the beach to the north where everyone assumes they have a better chance of finding treasure.
Back in the day I was using an expensive $1000.00 screened land metal detector for beach hunting, and full of confidence after years of experience metal detecting for old finds in the fields of England.
I noticed one other car in the parking lot as I walking towards the beach walkover, I made way for the owner of that car to pass me on the walkover, but he stopped to chat.
The other beach hunter was using a very old metal detector, a Whites coinmaster and I jokingly asked him if he collected antiques.
The beautiful Spanish silver treasure coin he pulled out of his pouch really wiped the smile off my face.
He told me how he did not like the newer models with screens and that his trusty (and rusty!) old metal detector had recovered another piece of Spanish 1715 fleet treasure.
The beautiful 300 year old silver coin had a visible late 1600s date, with a cross  on one side and a shield on the reverse.
What made the large silver reale special, was the cool bronze ship spike it was still attached to.
Walking onto the beach I could see where the other guy had stopped to dig targets, I recovered several silver reales a little further down the beach.
Over following treasure hunting trips to the same beach, this beach quickly became one of my favorite places to search for Spanish treasure.
To this day the same beach gives up treasure coins and artifacts when the surf picks up.
I will never know how differently things would have turned out if not for the chatty stranger, maybe I would not have found anything and never returned to that site.
This experience taught me two valuable beach hunting lessons, loose lips cause unnecessary competition from other beach hunters and never judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bread and butter finds

Every year I find a lot of platinum and gold wedding bands, I refer to them as "Bread & butter" finds. 
These are just a few of the ones I recovered in the last few months of 2014, easy to detect and lovely to hear clanking around in your scoop basket.

Wedding bands made from all types of metal are quite easy to find on tourist beaches, if you cover the ground correctly. 
Although they push the scrap pile higher,  I do not go out looking for platinum or gold wedding bands.
I prefer to search for smaller pieces of jewelry, and recover the easier to detect wedding bands I am fortunate enough to sweep my search coil over. 
My new years resolution last year was to put all my beach and water hunting efforts into recovering thin ladies rings and chains. 
It was no surprise that my ladies diamond ring count was up in 2014, thanks to using less discrimination and smaller search coils. 
While other beach and water hunters were toting big search coils to the beach, I pulled a George Costanza and went smaller. 
I still found my fair share of large wedding bands, even using smaller search coils, as target separation is often more important than target depth when searching for jewelry on tourist beaches. 
Gold chains, thin ladies rings and ear rings with stones in your pouch, are all signs that you are using good metal detecting techniques and using the right size search coil.
Another good sign you are firing on all cylinders is variety of jewelry finds, small, medium and large jewelry, coins of all denomination and size.
Searching a variety of sites leads to a variety of finds, but so does using different size search coils.
If you search heavily hunted beaches, try to forget about recovering deep targets in areas that are hunted day and night by full timers. 
Go for the harder to detect smaller jewelry, as you probably stand a good chance of finding larger easier to detect targets if any are in the area you are searching.