Welcome Back to another Adventure with Jim: Beach Hunting 101, Go Dig It.
Now that you’ve read through part one of this guide, and gotten yerself all gussied up for the big day, you’re ready to go find some pirate treasure, right? Not so fast.
If you’ve never been to the beach before, or at least never as a beach detectorist, you need to stop right here and do nothing at all. Soak up the moment, the sunshine and the surf and take a moment to observe. Where are people setting up their mini camps? Make a note of the shape of the sand, spots people tend to favor, look for the cuts and places the ocean has moved things around for you. This will help you plan your day, because there’s no way you can ever hit it all in one day. And by the way, you can hit the exact same spot again tomorrow and you’ll find more.
Unlike any land site, the treasures here at the beach MOVE, daily. The easiest way to think of it is the beach is like one giant gold pan, the action of the tide, surf and storms sort materials based on density and size. This can be so precise a separation that at times you’ll find lines of just clad dimes, no pennies, no pull tabs, no quarters, for hundreds of feet, EVERY target on that line will be a dime.
Let’s not get too far ahead just yet, there are basically 3 kinds of targets you’ll find, 1) “Yesterdays drops”, these will be unsorted and random, 2) Objects that have “wintered over” (i.e. they’ve been there awhile) and fall in well sorted lines, and 3) The occasional really old object that has been dredged up from god only knows where and redeposited for you to find. The ocean is truly magnificent for this, it’s possible to find anything on any given day, no matter how many times you’ve dug that site before.
The upper beach areas are great for recent ring drops, coin spills, cell phones, sun glasses, and FOIL, bottle caps, gum wrappers. None of these targets will generally be very deep. The wet sand is more sorted, in between the high tide and low tide line. The interesting part is, the high tide waters people are swimming in now will be “dry” land in 6 hours. Anything dropped by swimmers will land here somewhere. The ocean has this mischievous habit of turning your pockets inside out. No one knows how or why, it just DOES. Tourists not properly attired are routinely relived of the contents of their pockets, not to mention shrinkage effects allowing rings to easily slide off of fingers.
What pattern you use to attack this vast complex space will depend on your metal detector, people with a true saltwater metal detector can march up and down from the dunes into surf line and beyond, looking for those “lines” of heavy metals, lead sinkers and old iron are a clue gold might have been sorted into that area as well. For the more traditional VLF land machines, it’s better to move parallel to the surf, the ground balance will change far less radically, most machines will be stable at some distance from the really wet sands, how close you can get to the surf will depend on make, model and settings.
Continue Reading to Learn the best times to go beach detecting….