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Sunday, January 31, 2016

What to look for in a metal detector

Carl from South Africa asks what do I look for in a metal detector. 
That is a really good question Carl, and in my opinion ease of use and versatility are the keys to choosing a metal detector. 
Those two things make a winning combination on any metal detector, and especially for a beach hunter. 
A metal detector may be known for being very deep or it may have a lot of bells and whistles, but if it just feels awkward using it you are not going to stay out on the beach very long. 
When you are comfortable using a metal detector, you find stuff and you like it even more. The same applies to using a metal detector that is too site specific. The more things you can do with your detector, the more places you can search and the more good finds you will recover.  
In my opinion, the best thing you can do before buying a metal detector is visit your local metal detector store. At your local metal detector dealer, you can pick up various metal detectors and get a feel for them. Probably get a demo and chat with a person who knows the local beaches you intend to search. 
Everyone has their favorite metal detectors, but I do like to try new ones out just to see if they are better than what I use. 
I need waterproof metal detectors for water hunting, but on the beach I have no qualms about putting a plastic bag over a metal detector if I think it will be a better option than my waterproof units
There is nothing worse than a beach or water hunter using a metal detector they are not comfortable using, just because it is a popular metal detector and people find stuff with it. 
There are no one size fits all metal detectors, otherwise everyone would be using the same type of metal detector. 
What is a good fit for you and the sites you search, are always the perfect reasons to fork over your hard earned money for a metal detector. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Minelab CTX 3030 search coil question

Simon in Jolly old England asks what is the best search coil for his CTX 3030. 
In my opinion, the search coil that comes with any metal detector is always the best search coil to use. From past experiences I have found the coil that came with a metal detector always has the best combination of two things that matter the most to a beach hunter, target depth and sensitivity to small targets.
One of those important things is useless without the other, when it comes to search coils.
If I had to choose a good alternative to the 11-inch search coil on the CTX 3030 I would have to say the Coiltek 10 X 5-inch elliptical coil delivers.  The elliptical shape also makes it an ideal coil to use searching a cut on the beach. 
I have had a lot of really nice gold chains fall to the 10 X 5 Joey coil.
Maybe just a coincidence, but I believe the way a smaller coil makes you cover ground slower has something to do with an increase in the amount of jewelry and coins I recover using a smaller search coil.
Saying that, I still prefer the 11 inch smart coil over the other search coil options for the CTX 3030.
It is always best to learn the nuances of a metal detector with the stock coil  before adding extra coils.
Always buy an accessory search coil because you have an area it will better suited to search, or you are searching for a specific target and the coil you want to buy will help detect it better. 
Good luck with your new CTX 3030 Simon. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Using a pin-pointer at the beach

Roger from Belgium asks if I ever use a pin-pointer at the beach and the answer is yes all the time. 
I have a pin-pointer designed for land use and a waterproof pin-pointer that is the cats meow on the lower beach and inside the water.
The faster you can locate a potentially valuable target and get it in your finds pouch the better. 
I am also a firm believer that you should always strive to be an efficient treasure hunter by using your metal detecting time wisely, including target recovery time. 
Anything that helps you go onto the next target faster is a good thing. 
I see many beach or water hunters struggling to pinpoint and recover targets at the beach. 
Using a pin-pointer on the beach is one way you can spend more time detecting targets instead of struggling to locate targets you already detected. 
Less is often more in beach and water hunting, from shorter more thorough jewelry hunts, to small coils and pin-pointers, all things that help you detect more valuable targets in less time. 
 A waterproof pin-pointer can be a great asset along rocky shorelines, where digging targets with a long handled scoop is difficult.  It also saves time when bobbing and fanning targets in the water. As Jax the stray cat says 
"Pinpoint me if you dare " ! 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Beach hunting after a major storm

Adam in New Jersey asks how I would go about searching a beach after major erosion has taken place. 
First of all Adam, safety is rule number one in this type of beach hunting situation.  Watch out for metal pipes, wooden posts or other jagged materials sticking out of what remains of the beach.  Also keep an eye out for anything being washed back in the surf that may hit you.
You would be amazed at some of the jagged obstacles sticking out of the sand at eroded beaches.
In my opinion, you should concentrate on recovering the easy to detect targets first using a good VLF metal detector with discrimination.  Why worry about target depth when you are searching a beach that may have several feet of sand missing. 
You only have a short window of opportunity, before the following tides begin to bring sand back in over an area covering it up.
Beaches are often littered with iron and all sorts of junk after a major storm strips sand from a beach. 
I go for the shallow easy to detect treasure between the trash in my first attempt at searching an eroded beach.
Coins, jewelry or artifacts that came out of the sand, on following searches I go after stuff that may still be trapped in deeper layers of sand.
Using an all metal search mode and removing all metal targets.
Major tourist beaches in the New Jersey area are heavily hunted, so no doubt all the shallow surface finds will be removed quickly after a couple of days. You can use the competition to your advantage when you start searching for all metal targets.  
The shallow clad coins and junk should be gone, it may be easier using a large search coil on a VLF metal detector or a pulse induction metal detector searching for deep targets.
I would not recommend getting bogged down digging everything from the get go. Double " Cherry picking" has always worked for me in the past. Cherry pick good shallow targets, cherry pick good deep targets.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Smallest find at the beach

Roy in Orlando asked me what is the smallest metal target I have ever found at the beach is. 
I am fond of saying, if you can detect small gold you can detect large gold at the beach.  
Fine tuning your metal detector so you can detect small metal targets at the beach is very important, that means you will not miss any targets larger than the smallest target you can detect using your metal detector.
To answer Roy's question, a thin sewing needle is the smallest target I have ever found at the beach. 
Instead of finding a needle in a haystack I found a needle on a beach last month.
You have got to be kidding me was my first thought after I finally picked up the needle.
Oh and the really cool thing, that needle was found while water hunting which made it all the more difficult to recover. 
I often detect targets other beach and water hunters struggle to detect, which I put down to knowing how to fine tune my metal detector settings and using good search techniques. 
Stud ear rings and ear ring backs are a great examples of small targets that many beach and water hunters often never detect or recover.
I predominantly use VLF metal detectors with the discrimination control set in the minimum position. 
Detecting these type of small targets with a pulse induction metal detector is easier, but many pulse hunters do not detect these type of small targets. 
People are probably reading this and thinking so what, who needs small gold I want to detect big gold targets, but small gold targets are often much more expensive than large gold targets. 
For example, expensive solitaire diamond engagement rings and expensive diamond stud ear rings. 
Most expensive diamond rings are all rock and sometimes very little gold, so make sure you are detecting small targets if you want to experience the thrill of seeing a nice solitaire diamond ring in your scoop basket.  
This raw emerald in a 22K gold wire pendant was recovered nearly three year ago, a fine tuned metal detector and searching low and slow paying off again.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Emergency detecting repair kit

Bill C asks what items I take to the beach in case of a detecting emergency with my equipment. 
I never leave the house to go beach or water hunting without three things just in case, a spare fully charged battery, a nylon bolt and nut and a roll of electrical tape. 
The most common cause of a shortened beach hunt is a flat metal detector battery, I do not get out metal detecting enough so you can be sure I will not be leaving the beach because my battery is dead. 
The nylon bolt and nut is just in case my search coil bolt breaks, but also just in case I lose a nut or bolt off my arm cuff.
Have you ever tried metal detecting without an arm cuff? Its almost impossible to sweep your search coil and yet so simple to repair. 
I do not actually like use nylon bolts and nuts to fasten my arm cuff to my detector shaft, I prefer a metal nut and bolt. The nylon nut and bolt covers both situations and can be swapped out for a metal cuff bolt when you get home.
The roll of electrical tape is good for securing your search coil cover, and can be used to fasten a stick to your detector shaft if it breaks.  Kind of like a splint, I remember taping my arm to my detector shaft when my arm cuff broke off a few years ago.
Talk about hardcore, I was searching a beach after a good storm and this was the best way to keep me there searching an eroded beach.
From experience I can tell you that is alway the way it happens, during prime beach or water hunting situations something goes wrong with your equipment. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is it all metal detecting technique?

I received an interesting question from Juan from Argentina, who asked if you just need to have a good beach or water hunting technique to find jewelry and coins at the beach.
In my opinion, beach and water reading skill's are just as important as your metal detecting technique.
They should compliment each other and be the combined factor that put you on the jewelry and coin hunting road to success.
I probably spend more time looking at beaches, than metal detecting on them, especially when I know I have an upcoming opportunity to go beach or water hunting. 
With time spent searching a wide variety of beaches, you begin to learn what conditions on the beach increase your chances of recovering jewelry and coins.
Once you know what to look for, you can actively seek out certain areas at the beach likely to be better to search than other areas. 
I am not just talking about low spots, which detecting forum experts are so fond of having Juan base his whole beach hunting plans on. 
If there are no low spots or dips in the beach, and that is the only thing you look for it is probably not going to be a very productive beach hunt.
When the majority of beach or water hunters in an area are complaining about "Sanded in" conditions, the minority of beach or water hunters who can read a beach are probably still finding jewelry and coins. 
There is always something to find somewhere at any beach, when you know where you should invest your time metal detecting.
Going back to that combined effort, people using good basic metal detecting techniques in good areas of the beach have more success recovering jewelry and coins. 
Now would be as good a time as any for a shameless plug of my "How to read the beach & water"  book.  Available on my website, your local metal detector dealer, Amazon or Ebay. 

Talk of over hunted beaches and sanded in conditions is just talk when you know how to read the beach. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Oak Island coins question

Dave S wants to know if I found any old gold or silver coins while searching on the famous Oak Island in Canada.
Unfortunately, I did not recover any gold coins during my time as a guest treasure hunter on Oak Island, but I did find several Canadian and English coins dating from the early 1800s and 1900s. 
This silver sugar or salt spoon handle is my favorite piece of silver detected on Oak Island, the silver smiths name is on the reverse and he was in business from the late 1700s to 1820. 
It must have been a nice status symbol back in the day, having a silver spoon with your monogram on the handle. 
This cool piece of old silver was detected on one very rainy day when only mad dogs and englishmen would be out in such torrential rain. 

If only this piece of silver could talk, it was recovered in a wooded area only a stones throw from the old Samuel Ball foundation. 
Samuel Ball was a freed slave who bought several acres of land on Oak Island in the late 1700s.
Old coins are neat finds, but the majority of times you are searching around old wooded areas you are far more likely to find buckles and buttons. 
I believe the reason why so many buckles and buttons are found is because of people answering the call of nature.
 Unfastening and dropping drawers every few hours probably account for all the buckles and buttons found in wooded areas. 
I assume coins in pockets get lost this way too, falling out while answering the call of nature. 
A little trick I used to do in England was detecting behind massive trees facing old tracks or roads. 
What better place to find old gold or silver coins that may have fallen out of unbuckled pants, while people answered the call of nature behind large trees.  
I used the exact same search trick on Oak Island along a clearly defined row of huge trees planted next to a trackway. 
I found the silver spoon handle,  several old copper coins and flat buttons from the 1700s, behind the tree line. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

What make you decide to get into the water?

Todays question comes from Chris F, who wants to know how or why I decide to get into the water instead of searching the wet or dry sand.
First of all I am impressed by Chris knowing the beach has three main areas that can all be just as productive, many people only search one or two of the three main beach search zones. 
Unlike the majority of other treasure hunters, when I arrive at the beach with a metal detector I have not yet made up my mind where I intend to search.
I let the beach and water conditions tell me where and how to search, if the beach looks pants I think about water hunting.  
If I head into the water, it is normally because it looks the best option, I have either seen a interesting sand bar, rocky area, or a deeper section of water close to shore. 
Those are the main three things I look for because they are the leading source of lost jewelry in the water. 
People cannot resist being hit by waves washing over sand bars, or stumble and fall over rocks getting in and out of the water, or swim in deep water close to shore.
It is no secret people lose a lot of jewelry in the water, and if you know where to search in the water you can do well. 
Of course, it helps if you use a waterproof metal detector that gives you the option of searching inside the water. 
I know my local beaches like the back of my hand, I also know the lay out or features that are in the ocean close to shore, even if I cannot see them from the beach. 
When I get into the water I know what my chances of recovering jewelry are within 5 minutes, just by the feel of the sand under my feet.
If the dry sand, lower beach and water all look bad, I either move on or go home because nine times out of ten the closest beaches are just the same.
If you study your local beaches, it will make it easier for you to decide where you should start your search.
Get into the habit of watching people in the water, even if you are beach hunting. 
Sometimes, I get into the water to metal detect because I remember where I saw the most activity in the water on a previous trip to the beach.
Sometimes I am squeezed into water hunting, meaning people are already searching the beach, but the water is being ignored. 
That actually happened to me on new years day, this heavy platinum and 18K gold ring was worth the beating I took from the heavy surf. 

Why did I decide to water hunt,  because on this occasion I figured no other person is crazy enough to get in the water before sunrise.
Hey it worked and I probably found the best ring at the beach that new years day. 

How I search the "Money" line

Tony C asked a great question, how do I go about searching the high tide line.  
The reason why I think it is such a great question, is because in my opinion far too few beach hunters ever bother to search this very productive area on the beach. 
Water hunters and wet sanders love to wait to go to the beach two hours before low tide, dry sanders like to pull the night shift or go beach hunting early in the morning.
The high tide line is so often over looked, but not by wise beach hunters who know just how productive the "Money" line can be.
This 14K gold chain was recovered in the high tide line five weeks ago, 1.8 ounces of easy tourist beach hunting gold.

My favorite way of searching the high tide line is to be there at the peak of high tide, searching in a straight line where sand, shells, jewelry and coins are washing ashore. 
Using a metal detector with an average to small size search coil and using a little discrimination, as you do get a lot of light junk washing up along the high tide line.
Before last year my best find in the high tide line was a $5000.00 diamond ring, that personal high tide best was blown away with a $13.000.00 diamond ring a few months ago. 
I use metal detectors that do not false over soaking seaweed, very important as the high tide often washes a lot of seaweed ashore. 
Target depth is just not that important in the high tide line, so I have my metal detectors of choice set up for target separation over target depth 
At high tide you do not have to worry about the competition showing up, take your time and make your first walk over the high tide line count. 
If you use a metal detector with a screen, look away from the screen and keep your eyes along the high tide line.
You will be amazed at how many valuable objects wash up along the high tide line. 
The main two points of this answer to Tony's question are, go to the beach at high tide and treat the high tide tideline as a place where jewelry and coins are deposited. 
I not only search the last tide line, I seek out previous high tide lines which are often easy to spot on the lower beach.
If you would like my opinion on anything beach or water hunting related, leave a comment and I will respond to the questions in the order they are received. 
Happy treasure trails
Gary Drayton

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Using search patterns at the beach

Andrew P and James J asked me what type of search patterns I use on the dry sand, wet sand and inside the water.
This question  is a tough one as there are so many things that dictate the search pattern you use at the beach. 
There could be a lot less beach to search at high tide, or if the beach is packed with sunbathers, or erosion on the lower beach could make it impossible to step up or down a vertical wall of sand.
The search pattern I use the majority of my beach and water hunting time is ironically a box shaped search pattern.
I am fond of saying "Hunt outside the box", but I spend the majority of my time at the beach searching inside small boxes. 
If you have read any of my books or previous blogs, you will know I divide large sections of a beach up into smaller sections and try to cover less ground thoroughly. 
Hammering smaller sections and cleaning areas out of targets by imagining the search area is a box and gridding the box shaped area, before moving on to the next small section (Box) of beach.
Sometimes because of the reasons stated previously I get squeezed into searching along one straight line at the beach, but I prefer to double back and use shorter lines. 
Getting back to the question in hand, I use the search pattern that best suits the situation I am facing at the beach.
I rarely know before hand what search pattern I will be using before I walk onto a beach, but I know I will for sure be using some type of search pattern.
I do not meander around at the beach without a plan,  because the tighter you search an area the more chance you have of finding something good, especially at known productive sites. 
Just remember to be a successful jewelry or coin hunter at the beach, it is not how much ground you cover but how you cover the ground. 
Try to walk off a beach knowing that if the targets you were searching for had been there, you would have found them. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The top three mistakes made by water hunters.

Andrew P asked what I believe are the top three mistakes made by water hunters.

In my opinion, the top three mistakes made by water hunters are:

1. Not learning how to metal detect on the beach first.
Great beach hunters make great water hunters, but the opposite cannot be said. You should always learn how to use your metal detector and recover targets on the beach, before moving into the water.
Newbies dazzled by photos of jewelry posted on the internet make the mistake of thinking everything is in the water and recovering targets in the water is easy, it is not!
I can tell you it is not all in the water, you can find just as much jewelry in the wet and dry sand, but if you are a good water hunter you can take advantage of the high number of bad water hunters.

2. Not covering an area correctly.

The same applies to my second mistake on my list, if you cannot cover an area on the beach correctly, you have to rely on lady luck more than water hunting skill's.   Learning different search patterns on the beach will serve you well in the water, covering every foot of sand you are slowly walking over. I find a lot of jewelry at tourist beaches missed by sloppy water hunters. Its not that I am better than the competition, I am more thorough than the competition. I go into the water to cover an area completely using a tight search pattern.

3 Using the wrong type of equipment.

When I am in the water and see people walk onto the beach with a metal detector, the first thing I do is look at their feet.  I look to see if the potential water hunting competition are wearing sneakers or flip flops, both rule out water hunting. I also check out their metal detecting equipment, non waterproof metal detectors or coffee can size scoops rule out water hunting effectively.  
Not all metal detectors are equal, cheap waterproof metal detectors are very chattery or noisy in the surf zone.  The wrong type of water hunting wear can also be a mistake, on a hot summers day a full wet suit and weight belt mean a person has to stay in deeper water or risk over heating in the shallows. Shorts and T shirt in colder water has the opposite outcome.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Question How do you choose which detector to use on a particular day?

Champ F wants to know how I decide what metal detector to use and here is how I usually decide.
I have several different VLF and Pulse induction metal detectors, and I normally grab one or two VLFs when I am not sure what conditions to expect at the beach.
To be honest, I usually know what to expect because I constantly check beach cams and the weather forecast. 
Even though I like to be prepared, the weather is often not the major thing that influences my beach or water hunting plans. 
I prefer to leave the house with two metal detectors, one with a small search coil and the other with a larger search coil.
For example, an Excalibur with an 8 inch search coil and an Excalibur with a 15 inch search coil,or my CTX 3030 and two different size search coils.
Obviously it is easier just to take one metal detector with another search coil option, if you have a metal detector that allows you to change search coils. 
The advantage of taking two different metal detectors is being able to continue searching if one breaks down. 
Believe me, it always happens when you have an excellent beach or water hunting situation in front of you.
That reason is why I prefer to take two metal detectors to the beach, just in case as I never want to get caught short again.
My allotted metal detecting time often has more to do with the metal detector I choose than the weather forecast or tide times. 
Recently I have been a weekend warrior, so having the option of using discrimination on my VLF metal detectors helps me to maximize my good target digging time on tourist beaches. 
Many people who own and use more than one metal detector, usually have a different type of metal detector as their back up or second metal detector. 
Having options, back up metal detector or spare search coil, helps you to be a more versatile beach treasure hunter. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ask me your beach or water hunting questions

I decided the first day of the new year was the perfect time to change my blog.  I spend a lot of my spare time answering questions from people wanting my take on a wide variety of beach and water hunting related subjects.  
Changing my blog will allow me to help other people with the same beach and water hunting questions in a more open environment.
As anyone who knows me or has taken a metal detecting lesson will tell you, I often have a completely different take on beach and water hunting. 
I have my own beach and water hunting style and the finds to walk the walk, but even a hardcore pirate like myself feels the need to give something back to the hobby I love so much. 
This Q & A format will help a wider audience to find answers to their questions and create a handy beach and water hunting related data base. 
If you would like my advice on anything from metal detecting equipment, beach reading skills to beach or water hunting tips, contact me and I will be happy to give you my opinion. 
Happy new year and lets hit the beach and find gold in 2016, or platinum and 18K gold like todays heavy beauty from the sandy jewelry store.