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Monday, June 29, 2015

Going the extra yard

Yesterday I got a chance to go metal detecting at a popular tourist beach in Palm Beach county Florida. 
This place is hit hard by many beach and water hunters, yesterday I saw several people already metal detecting when I arrived. 
The skies were getting darker and I knew I was probably going to have to leave the beach when a thunder storm rolled onshore. 
My strategy was to search an area at the tourist beach that is hunted the least, an obvious turn around area. 
Often beach and water hunters use the same turn around markers at tourist beaches, lifeguard towers, fishing piers or just the end of a line of sun beds laid out on the beach. 
What is the point of going past the crowded area, right? 
After entering the water with my Minelab Excalibur,  just a few yards past one of those obvious turn around points I started to recover coins and jewelry. 
I found a silver ring in the first 10 minutes which is always a good sign. A heavy platinum ring was recovered not far away from the silver ring and before leaving I recovered an 18K gold ring. 
All the coins in the area, also told me that other beach and water hunters did not like to detect very far past the crowded area at this beach. 
My platinum and gold rings were not found because I was following other people using inferior equipment or metal detecting techniques, just bad search patterns. 
Not all pople using the beach like to be in crowded areas at the beach, some people like to relax away from crowded sections of the beach. 
They lose jewelry and that jewelry stays in the area until an enterprising beach or water hunter goes the extra yard with their metal detector. 
When you have competition at the beach for jewelry and coins, you have to sometimes search or cover areas you probably would prefer not to.
Sometimes other hunters in the area squeeze you into searching an area you would rather not be at. In my case yesterday, two people were already searching the area I would have chosen to search first. 
Searching the less crowded section of a tourist beach might not seem like a good idea, but they are often the less heavily searched areas at tourist beaches with obvious turn around points or empty spaces between busier stretches of the beach. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Piers and jewelry hunting

I have found a lot of jewelry and coins around piers, or more importantly just a few yards past piers.  A few yards past the fishing pier in this photo, I found two Spanish silver reales from the late 1600s. 

Local tales of Spanish treasure coins found on the beach near the pier after winter storms turned out to be true. 
Many beach and water hunters use fishing piers as turn around points, or they avoid metal detecting around fishing piers because of the high amount of discarded fishing tackle in the area. 
I love metal detecting around fishing piers, it is very surprising how much gold jewelry you can find in an area that is often off limits to sunbathers and swimmers during normal beach hours. 
Under the pier has always been an attractive place for courting couples to hang out at night, in the day time people like to wade or snorkel around around the pier pilings. 
This would explain all the gold jewelry you can find under a pier, if you do not mind working hard for it. 
Yes you will find a lot of lead fishing weights and corroding ferrous objects, but you will find gold and silver if you put your time in around a pier.  
I have heard of so many great finds recovered around piers in Florida, but I still see many beach and water hunters just turning around at piers and walking back in the direction they came from. 
Twice this year, strangers chatting to me on the beach have told me that their friends had lost jewelry close to a fishing pier. 
I wonder how many people fishing off the pier lose earrings, rings, chains and watches while casting or reeling in fish. 
The older the pier, the more likely you are to recover old coins and jewelry after coastal storms hit the area. 
Think about all those people back in the day, dropping coins on the pier and seeing them fall between the wooden planks. 
One of my favorite pier find stories happened a few years ago when I recovered an old 1730 Spanish silver two reale mounted in a 14K gold bezel.   
The custom pendant was found a few yards past a popular fishing pier in south Florida. I was following another beach hunter who predictably turned around at the pier, he took his headphones off and told me the morning was a washout as he headed off the beach.
I went a few yards past where the chap had turned around and returned home with a really nice treasure coin pendant. 
Next time you think about turning around at a pier, think about what great find may be waiting for you just a few yards past the pier. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tide charts and beach reports

If you base your beach or water hunting plans, or follow any of the things mentioned in this post title you are always going to be one step behind other beach and water hunters who go metal detecting regardless of the tides or beach conditions. 
A question I am often asked is, when is the best time to go metal detecting at the beach.
Another question is where do you find the most jewelry and coins at the beach, the answers to those questions are anytime and any place. 
The less beach or water hunting restrictions you place on yourself, the more jewelry and coins you will find at the beach. 
I doubt I would have found any of the jewelry and coins in this photo if I only went metal detecting at low tide or relied on other peoples beach reports before going beach or water hunting.  

Randomly lost coins and jewelry at the beach are just that, randomly lost coins and jewelry. 
The things you are searching for with your metal detector at the beach could be lost almost anywhere and at anytime. 
They are not always deep targets and not always shallow targets, simply randomly lost objects that end up settling in different layers of sand. 
So why would a beach or water hunter only go metal detecting at low tide, or sit around waiting until someone tells them they have a better chance of recovering stuff. 
I have recovered several really nice and expensive diamond rings this year, ask me what the beach conditions were like or what time was low tide when I recovered the rings and I could not tell you. 
Tide times and beach conditions are what they are when I arrive at a beach to metal detect, not the reason why I go to a beach to metal detect.
Tide charts and sanded in beach reports are two things that insure other people with metal detectors stay at home instead of going metal detecting. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Searching sand bars at tourist beaches

Yesterday I found several pieces of gold and silver jewelry at a local tourist beach that was pretty sanded in. 
The upper beach was too busy to detect, the lower beach was sanded in badly so I hit the best looking spot which turned out to be the water. 
I figured after about a week of 3 to 4 foot waves with people jumping up into the waves,  there had to be a few pieces of jewelry shaken loose. 
The beach I chose to search was my third choice, I walked on and straight off the first two beaches because I did not see any sand bars. 
Unlike many full time beach and water hunters in Florida, I only had a couple of hours to metal detect, so I needed to maximize my chances of recovering jewelry. 
I took my pulse induction SDC 2300 because I knew I was not going to be digging much trash and I like its sensitivity to small gold.  
Around sand bars you are more likely to find rings, chains and ear rings.  
I was only metal detecting in knee deep water, where people would have walked up onto the slope of the sand bar and got hit by waves on the previous high tide. 
This is often a place that is ignored at low tide by water hunters wanting to get out as deep as possible, or beach hunters searching in a straight line along the lower beach. 
Part of being able to read the beach is knowing what the beach probably looked like on the previous high tide. 
Where would people in the water have been standing or swimming? 
I look at things differently to other beach or water hunters, by always putting all my search efforts into trying to recover jewelry lost on previous high tides. 
I never get carried away by seeing a crowd of people on the beach or in the water and thinking I have to search for jewelry that crowd may have lost. 
In my opinion, you are far more likely to recover jewelry lost in previously crowded areas than stumble across jewelry lost within the last couple of hours. 
The jewelry I recovered yesterday was probably washed over the sand bar recently, it had not sunk out of detection range and my water reading hunch was spot on. 
I have recovered many expensive gold rings on very shallow sand bars,  people love to lay on sand bars  in only a few inches of water.  
Once those hands slide into the sand, the suction of the sand and water can ruin the moment as rings are easily lost on a sand bar. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Searching very trashy beach sites

Many tourist beaches have a high amount of trash targets littering the sand, from corroding bottle caps to fish hooks and can slaw.
You are often trying to find treasure amongst trash on tourist beaches and it is not that much cleaner inside the water close to shore.
The best way to tackle a trashy beach site is to use something that most beach and water hunters rarely use, a small search coil.
Large search coils are all the rage now, especially for people looking to get a waterproof metal detector modified after the warrantee has expired.
In my opinion, a small search coil is a wiser investment and can be used in more beach and water hunting situations.
A typical entrance area at a tourist beach, can often be a sea of threshold nulls using standard size 9 to 11-inch search coils.
Put a small search coil on your metal detector and you will hear targets that larger search coils cannot even detect.
For years I have relied on the fact that most beach and water hunters use large search coils at tourist beaches.
I remember several years ago pulling into a beachside parking lot ready to search an eroded stretch of beach, but three other guys using 10 inch coils on their metal detectors had beaten me to the spot.
Watching them from the parking lot I could see that even though they were moving around the area slowly they were not stopping to dig many targets.
I figured the notoriously trashy local area was playing havoc with their metal detectors, and they were probably having a tough time locking onto real targets.
After they moved away from the area, I searched the same site using a much smaller search coil and was constantly detecting and scooping targets.
I recovered a bucket list find at that site, thanks to the target separation capabilities of the small search coil I was using.
Small search coils, slow sweep speeds and a little discrimination are how you tackle trashy beach sites.
I class pennies as trash targets at tourist beaches, large numbers of pennies can just as easily hide gold jewelry.
If you hunt for gold by target tones, a small search coil gives you a chance of hearing the gold audio tone. 
At trashy beach sites, try going small to find big. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Metal detecting just off the beach

This time last year I was searching on the bluffs just above Smiths Cove on Oak Island Nova Scotia, and rescued this 1885 Canadian coin 

I like metal detecting just off the beach in remote areas, especially overlooking coves where ships would have anchored years ago. 
The high ground overlooking natural coves or inlets is kind of like the "Towel line" at the beach. 
It is the area people are more likely to sit and lose jewelry or coins for several different reasons, maybe taking in the view of the water, changing clothes, or answering the call of nature.
The majority of my inland coin recoveries on Oak Island, came off the higher slopes opposite coves or bays. 
The majority of my beach found coins from the 1600s & 1700s, came off beaches at those same coves or bays. 
Several areas around the island, always produced coins and musket balls on the rocky beaches and way up on the high ground.
Unfortunately, in Florida we do not have a lot of real high ground opposite Spanish shipwreck beaches. 
If we did, I am pretty sure I would find just as much old coins on the high ground overlooking the shipwreck beaches as I do on the beaches. 
If you are fortunate to have popular beaches with high ground at the back of the beaches, you may be surprised how much jewelry and coins you can recover away from the beach. 
The same applies to popular inland swimming holes at rivers, where do you think people take their clothes or shoes off to go swimming or wading?
The more history connected to the area, the more your chances of recovering older coins or jewelry. At saltwater beaches, anything recovered from the ground away from the beach is usually in much better shape than stuff recovered closer to the water. 
Just because you are a beach or water hunter, does not mean you should ignore the area inland opposite the beach. 
If you have these type of sites overlooking beaches, hit them before other people get the same idea. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wet sand beach tests

Recently I conducted some tests in the wet sand with three different metal detectors, the metal detectors used in the wet sand beach tests ranged in price from just over $200.00 to $1200.00.
Soon I will be posting up a video on youtube and Facebook with some of the results of those wet sand beach tests.
On the day I tested the three metal detectors, the lower beaches in Florida had plenty of seaweed washing ashore.
Wet sand and seaweed can make a metal detector chatter like crazy, so the timing of the tests worked out well.
I made sure all three metal detectors were set up similar and had about the same levels of sensitivity and discrimination for the testing, one of those metal detectors I had heard a lot about and was eager to try out. 
Continuing on from my previous blog about the wet sand, it does not matter how much your metal detector costs or how many bells and whistles it has, if it cannot handle the wet sand you are not going to be a successful beach hunter using it. 
If you have to totally dumb down a metal detector just to get it to work smoothly on the lower beach,  you will miss deep targets and difficult to detect shallow targets like gold chains. 
There is a heck of a lot to be said for using a metal detector that runs smoothly in the wet sand.
In my opinion, the main reason why I can recover jewelry following other people metal detecting at heavily hunted Florida tourist beaches is simply because I hear the jewelry and the other person did not. 
I set my metal detector up to suit the conditions presented to me when I walk onto a beach and of course I use a metal detector that does not scream like a banshee on the lower beach.  
One of those metal detectors is the Minelab Excalibur, the other is the CTX 3030, using sensible control settings that allow me to search without constantly stopping to investigate false signals. 
I prefer listening to jewelry and coins, not feedback from the wet sand, saltwater or seaweed. 
When I post the video of the metal detector comparisons, you will see what I mean about the "Beach proving ground" the place where jewelry is detected or easily missed if you do not use the correct equipment. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The beach proving ground

In this photo you see where the metal detector you use for beach hunting has to perform, the wet sand on the lower beach. 

The lower beach is where your metal detector has to be able to operate smoothly, or you are going to struggle to recover coins and jewelry. 
Can you spot the three things in the photo that can wreck a beach hunters chance of finding jewelry?
The first is the line of fresh seaweed deposited on the beach, wet seaweed holds saltwater and will cause many metal detectors to false when you sweep your search coil over it. 
Second is the wet sand on the lower beach, still saturated in saltwater as waves wash in over the area. 
The third potential problem is the surf breaking over your search coil as you metal detect over the wet sand.
These three things make your choice of metal detector all the more important if you want to have success on the lower beach. 
Now you can see why I call the lower beach the proving ground, because it can make or break your chances of finding jewelry or coins at the beach. 
If your metal detector is effected by saturated wet sand, soaking seaweed or breaking surf, you have to stay away from one of most target rich areas of the beach. 
An erratic metal detector, makes it almost impossible to tell the difference between real targets and false signals in the wet sand. 
There are ways to work the wet sand by lowering sensitivity, using small search coils and just digging two way repeatable signals. 
Or you could research what metal detectors operate smoothly on the lower beach and invest in one. 
You have to use the right tool for the right job on the beach proving ground to be a successful beach or water hunting.