Beach Metal Detecting Tips, Resources, Hints, and Help
Almost one year after getting my first “specialized” beach/water metal detector I had found no jewelry, with the small exception of 2 or 3 cheap rings. Well today, a bit later, things have certainty changed. I recall a seeing other guys beach metal detecting finds and seeing the pretty gold rings that had been found while water hunting provided me with the motivation to do what was necessary to acquire the talent and tools to find my share of the gold, silver, and jewels that hide so well from us.
It was not out of a desire to find expensive jewelry to sell in order to make money out of the hobby, but just to match the kinds of good finds that I saw a very few other people were able to find. I made many mistakes when I first began to hunt the water for rings and jewelry and spent many trips that did not provide any finds but over time I began to learn more about the tricky subject of beach metal detecting. One of the problems when hunting salt beaches is that there are large scale changes going on all the time that are simply invisible to the untrained eye. When I first realized that the beach was not a stable thing but if you could see a time-lapse movie of a year in the life of a beach you would be simply shocked beyond belief! The sand is either being deposited on the beach or removed all the time and you need to know how it is being accomplished and when it is time to hunt. The dynamics of a beach have become a subject that I am keenly interested in and even now I am doing my own analysis of beach erosion and building. I know you only want to find jewelry and you aren’t interested in all that complex stuff but the key to opening the treasure chest is knowing WHEN to hunt. It is important to know how to metal detect the beaches but you are just wasting time and batteries if you don’t know when to detect. Sure you can blunder onto a beach and sometimes discover something nice but can you regularly produce good jewelry?
Knowing when to Hunt
You can find fresh water swimming lakes that are much easier metal detecting than the saltwater beaches because they are basically stable and a ring that was lost last weekend won’t be covered with 15 inches of sand by this weekend. The sea however, is never the same and the tides do far more than just cycle high and low the same all the time but the changes in tides are FAR more important than I first came to believe. It is somewhat like taking a course in school that you thought was a breeze that actually turns out to be a difficult I have just painted a picture to permit you to see that you can not undertake this task unless you are committed to doing your homework and can commit the time required to be hunting when and where jewelry can be found. If you think you can just go on a sunny day or when the tide is low you will be disappointed.
I have written about the tides in the articles “Secrets of the metal detecting beaches (and Secrets of the beach metal detecting II)” and I would like to add to that by telling you that the minus tides also have an annual cycle where (at my beach) the spring minus tides occur after sundown and the mid-winter tides are often around sunrise and there is a time in between that no minus tides occur and often the tides are higher.
Knowing where to Hunt
To sum it up there are the targets of opportunity which occur when a holiday crowd moves to the beach. This crowd must contain a large amount of tourists because the locals no longer wear jewelry into the water. These are holidays that occur in a time when the beach is building so in only a few days the thousands of dollars of jewelry will disappear as the flow of new sand will cover it so deep that you cannot reach it. You must hunt as soon as possible to recover these and as much as possible. Hunt after sundown on low tide to maximize your finds and to hunt when it is cool and when the tourists will not see you hunting. It is too difficult to hunt with the crowds in the water even though I have done it from time to time it is better to wait until sundown. You will spend 90 percent of your time conversing with the people about what you are doing and almost no time to hunt!
Besides targets of opportunity you will want to hunt after the excess sand has been removed from the bottom and the large sandbars are completely gone. I can recall that last winter the sandbars completely were removed leaving a smooth tapered bottom sloping downward a few degrees and some if not most of the jewelry was buried in the bottom. I think much of it is sucked out to sea, never to be recovered as we have such strong currents in the water at times it will pull you off your feet standing only in a few inches of water! The heavier objects may settle into the sea floor but the small objects must certainly be pulled along into the deep water. Some days my heavy stainless steel scoop is pulled straight out to sea as I try to hold onto it in the difficult currents and I have to use a webbed safety strap to prevent losing it.
There are two types of beach hunting beside the targets of opportunity and that is hunting the wet sand on extreme minus low tides and hunting the water during these times. I have found that when the time is perfect and you can see at least twice as much beach as you could see in summer your time is so short that you are limited to a couple of hours to hunt and if you hunt the water you will not cover much area. As the water gradually recedes you must hunt strips along the waters edge. I hunt two passes or 16 feet and try to cover it completely and as much area that is possible so you must not miss anything but walk fast to maximize your finds. Each time the water recedes farther you will be able to work your way out into the deep swimming areas in only the short low tide time available and cover the entire bottom to the farthest steep low tide.
During midwinter in early January we have our best low tides and with the help of a very strong cold front the winds will move the water far out. Then after I have covered all of the wet sand I may move farther out by water hunting to pickup those items lost in the very deep water. Aside from jewelry I find sunglasses, wrist watches and also rods and reels buried deeply in the bottom. That is the time of year to spend the extra time to dig the large targets and often you will find nice things that have dropped into the water and may be covered two foot deep in the ocean bottom even in mid winter!
These pictures are the largest part of the jewelry I have found but not all of it and remember that a year ago I did not know how to find ANY jewelry! This represents an increasing level of finds that is still increasing as I am learning more of the secrets of the sea.
The only other thing I might mention is that spring break occurs when the water is still cold and forbidding and most of the finds are just silver rings lost in the dry sand. Now you know everything that I know about the subject(but I am still learning) and you can hunt the jewelry and produce rewarding finds too. I might add that besides the time to hunt and access to saltwater beaches you will have to hunt in forbidding cold weather when you will see no one else on the beach in blowing sand and wind so strong it may blow you down but after all, this is an adventure and a grand one at that. Be bold, and go where no one else has gone before and you too can share in this adventure and have a life experience that is rich with discoveries and provides you new frontiers in a world that sorely needs them.
Beast Beach Metal Detectors
- Minelab Excalibur II – Time tested and highly rated water detector
- Fisher CZ21 – Been around a long time and time tested as a great beach hunter
- Tesoro Sand Shark – Alot of folks swear by this detectors and will use nothing else
- Garrett Infinium LS – Garrett is know for there quality Detectors and the Infinium is no exception
- Minelab Sovereign GT – Great for dry beach hunting (not waterproof)
- Whites Surfmaster PI – Its a White’s they are hard to beat