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Monday, February 26, 2018

A bank open for business

The word bank originates from a time when people dug a hole in a bank and hid their valuables for safe keeping.
If you search shorelines hit by unusually high surf you may detect something of value buried or lost a long time ago in the eroded beach bank. 
This photo is a good example of an eroded shoreline hit by a winter storm that I had an opportunity to search last year. 

Shorelines change all the time in areas that are hit hard by coastal storms, leaving behind excellent metal detecting opportunities if you are lucky enough to search them.
They are what I call a "Twofer" treasure hunting situation, an opportunity to recover something good either flushed out of the eroded bank or something washed up and deposited against the eroded bank.
Two opportunities you can take advantage of when you know how to search an eroded river or beach bank.
I always like to search the face of any cut beach or river bank first, as you are often the first person ever to search the exposed layers, afterwards I search the from the base of the erosion to the waters edge looking for flushed out or washed in goodies.
The older the area and more history connected with the site, the more chance you have of detecting and recovering something old.
You can also recover good stuff long after the initial erosion took place if you know what to look for.
The back of the beach, river bank or dune line will often fill back in as if nothing had ever happened, but returning sand hardly ever makes it back up to the highest eroded levels. 
If you see roots dangling high up on the bank, check out the lower beach opposite at low tide.
The higher the eroded bank the better your chances are of recovering older jewelry, coins or artifacts.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Don't forget where you started

When you start heading somewhere searching with your metal detector at a beach, be sure to search in the opposite direction a little before leaving.
Treasure is often where you find it and many times I have found it just a little ways from where I first started searching, but in the opposite direction.
I have got that used to recovering good finds around starting out points that I now search a little in each direction before moving away from my starting out point. 
Im not a big fan of going for long walks on a beach, I prefer to grid an area out well instead of walking long distances hoping to stumble across coins, jewelry or artifacts.
If you saw a group of people metal detecting on a beach, I would be the one you see staying in the same search area.
One of the biggest mistakes a beach hunter can make is to assume things can only be found between point A and B in a straight line. 
For example, I often see beach hunters stop to scoop a target then continue searching along the same line, instead of spiraling around the recovery area before moving on.
I also see people walking onto a beach and almost immediately dig a first target before moving on towards where ever their intended beach turn around point is. 
The other persons initial dig site is often the place I start searching, but around not away from the site.
You could say I have the beach hunting competition show me a good place to start searching.
This is a trick I often do at Treasure Coast shipwreck beaches, heavily hunted sites that have very few targets to detect as they get hammered on a regular basis.
You can learn a lot about a beach watching the competition for ten minutes from a beach entrance. 
Where there is one thing you can find other things if you look hard enough.
I do the same at heavily hunted tourist beaches, by watching who is stopping to scoop what and where.
Nine times out of ten people will keep walking in a straight line after detecting and scooping a target.
I have recovered many pieces of Spanish silver just a few yards away from where other beach hunters had walked onto a beach or dug something in the same area but kept on walking.

Are you walking away from a good find?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Obstructions at the beach

I love searching close to obstructions on the beach as they often lead to good finds, a giant boulder, a washed up tree trunk or even a pier may be an obstruction that can lead to a good find.
Obstructions break up the natural movement of surf and sand, causing lost coins, jewelry or artifacts to end up in the slip stream of the obstruction.
Some of my best beach and water hunting finds have come out of areas with an obstruction on the beach or in the water.
I know my local beaches like the back of my hand, I also know where many obstructions are at every beach.
I use large movable pieces of iron as jewelry traps, knowing the average beach or water hunter will go around large iron objects on the beach and inside the water.
Every few weeks I will move my jewelry traps and search the place they probably stayed since the last time I moved them.
I study the way water moves across my local beaches, then search close to and around any obstructions looking to detect anything diverted by an obstruction.
At beaches where the high tide washes up to a concrete barrier (Wall or building foundation) it is very difficult to detect close to the concrete barrier.
At areas I know jewelry is lost, I will often change to a small search coil so I can detect closer to the wall.
I use my scoop to drag sand away from the base of a wall, beach hunting is not all about swinging a search coil sometimes you have to use other tools like a spade or a rake to help you ferret out good stuff close to obstructions at the beach.
Obstructions are just that to the majority of beach and water hunters, nuisances to go around. 
Obstructions on the beach and in the water help break up the natural movement of surf and sand.
In areas you are likely to recover jewelry, coins or old artifacts, obstructions become areas where the stuff you are searching for collect in numbers. 
Remember the more difficult an area of the beach is to detect, the more likely you are to find something.

There are three potential traps in this photo, the wooden bridge, tree branch and vegetation mid slope preventing stuff from being washed higher.  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Expand your beach hunting horizons

On Saturday morning in south Florida I could go to any beach and see people I know search the same area all the time and you could probably say that about any heavily hunted beach in the world.
So why are many beach and water hunters so predictable searching the exact same area every time they go to the beach?
Perhaps they previously recovered something good in that area or know something good was recovered in that area, whatever the reason having a predictable beach hunting plan is not a formula for success at the beach using a metal detector.
If you only search the same one or two areas of a beach you miss out on so many beach or water hunting opportunities.
Regular readers of this blog will see me posting photos of items I have recovered from the beach in the past, referring to the place I recovered the item as "One of my favorite beach or water hunting sites" notice the word one.
I search a wide variety of beaches and an even wider variety of sites at those beaches so it is highly unlikely I will ever be referred to as that guy who is always searching there. 
The main reason I try other beaches is because I often find good stuff in the most unexpected areas, at beaches you would never expect to find anything let alone something good.
Another good reason to expand your horizons is when you do recover good stuff you are often the only person with a metal detector who knows about those production areas.
Dont get me wrong you often get skunked trying new beaches or different areas of those beaches, but when you do detect something good the rewards far outweigh the time wasted previously getting skunked.
It does not take very long before you compile a wide variety of productive areas to search.
Perhaps even putting a damper on further exploration, but in my opinion you can never have enough productive areas other people do not know about. 
I never give away any of my hard earned potentially productive sites, gained through research and time invested discovering the sites.
The next time you realize you always see the same person searching the same area every time you visit a beach, be thankful you have predictable beach or water hunters in your area.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Every inch counts using large search coils

I often see people swinging large search coils at the beach and I mean swinging! 
If you are going to use a large search coil for beach or water hunting you have to work on making sure you keep the large search coil low and level throughout the sweeping process. 
Search coil control is important if you want to take advantage of the extra target depth provided by the larger size coil.
If your metal detector balance is thrown out of whack by a heavy search coil, you may get sloppy struggling to maintain a level sweep. Large search coils are often heavier than the standard size coil that came with your metal detector. 
Using a metal detecting harness or a search coil stabilizer will help you from struggling with the extra weight and sweeping higher above the surface of the sand than normal, also the dreaded raising of the coil at the end of each sweep.
If you feel a metal detecting harness is too cumbersome, try using a sash type sling with a bungee cord attached from the sling to your metal detector shaft. 
This simple type of harness to distribute the weight of the metal detector is similar to what people using garden weed whackers or pressure washing poles use. 
Ground coverage is the main reason beach or water hunters use large search coils but in my opinion it should be about target depth and having the ability to detect targets at greater depths than the standard size search coil. 
Walking around with a large search coil several inches above the sand because you cannot control it often negates most of the extra target depth, having to lower the metal detector sensitivity to use the large search coil takes away the rest of any perceived depth advantage.
One pulse induction metal detector I had my eye on for a while has a large search coil mounted to the lower rod at the back of the search coil.
Every beach hunter I see using this metal detector has the front of the large search coil tilted up at the front, this put me off buying and using the metal detector.
Search coil control is very important to me and I know every inch quite often counts at the beach so I prefer to use search coils that mount towards the middle of the search coil.
Search coil control is probably why some beach or water hunters find stuff over ground covered by other people, especially when using the same type of metal detector.
When all things are equal metal detecting equipment wise, its the person with the better basic metal detecting skills including search coil control that has the advantage. 
A large search coil is only an advantage at the beach if it is swept level and very close to the sand.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Drag on the lower beach

One of the things I like to explain during beach hunting lessons is how objects we search for move on the lower beach, especially sloped or steep beaches. 
In my beach hunting books I refer to the lower beach as the giant sandy conveyor belt, with tides helping to move objects up and back down the lower beach and shallow water. 
Flat objects like coins will move more easily than jewelry, coins tend to be found higher up sloped or steep beaches than rings.
The shape of a ring will help it settle in one place as the band creates drag, often before being pushed higher up onto the beach.
The bigger the ring the more likely it is to be closer to or inside the water when the beach is steeply sloped. 
A coin line or line of deposited coins from a previous high tide will often be found higher up the beach than jewelry.
The way jewelry is shaped in rings, chains and bracelets creates drag in the sand, when you know where flat coins settle you can search for jewelry that did not make it all the way up the lower beach to the line of coins.
This is why I prefer to search a known coin line using a loose W type search pattern, instead of a straight line and risking walking away from gold.
This is how this heavy platinum and 18K diamond ring ended up in my finds pouch instead of being found by the person who walked a straight line ahead of me scooping coins a few years ago.

A loose W type search pattern around wooden beach steps hanging in mid air on an eroded beach has worked out well for me over the years.
There are many little things that make a big difference in beach hunting, knowing how objects you are search for move up and down the lower beach is one of them.
For example, I have eyeballed more gold chains on the beach than I have detected on the beach.
I would'nt even be at the beach to see them if I only went to the beach two hours before low tide, as many beach and water hunters getting advice of metal detecting forums do.
High tide is the best time to see gold chains tangled in seaweed or flotsam, chains tend to ball up or get tangled in other things.
The object they became tangled in may not always make it up a sloped beach, but I lump gold chains in the drag category as they tend to ball up too.
At heavily hunted beaches I will often sacrifice the coins to go for the jewelry, especially after rough surf when you often see coins laying on the sand washed up.
Searching down from a visible coin line will give the competition something to dig while you search for jewelry stopped by the drag effect on the lower beach.