Secrets of the Saltwater Beaches (Part II)
In part one you learned about the importance of determining the tides for your hunting beach and the timing must be exact! You must begin with the nearest place to your beach that provides tide information and then calibrate the time differential and factor in the winds too. There is far more to this than even the best saltwater hunter knows. When the tides get so low that they pass below the mean low tide mark we call them (minus) tides which generally occur near to the full moon and the dark of the moon. But don’t think just because it is the full moon you can go hunting the surf. My location has the extreme lowest minus tides in early January and then there are still some good ones in spring but they just fade out when they get to summertime and do not return until late November. You may ask “why is this so important?” and the reply would be “it’s only important if you want to reap the best harvest of golden jewelry”. Yes it does take a lot of work to get the timing right and not only the timing but the wind can improve it or totally ruin the golden opportunity. What you desire is the wind to be at least calm or a strong offshore wind that will help push the water back out. Much of this I have touched on before but I want you to understand the importance of it.
When the day and the hour comes for the low tides and if the winds are good also you might discover that the low tide is at one O’clock in the night!! Shock! “Well you can’t expect me to hunt at night can you?”. By now you know the answer. You will need a few things to hunt whenever your prime time gets there and it may be at night or it may be in January with a very cold wind from the Arctic blowing at 40 mph. Let me say that I hunt all of these times, and I do well, and I am an old man….. You wouldn’t let an old man beat you out to the treasure would you? The key is that it takes whatever it takes and whether you need a hookah diving setup to work the lake or you snorkel or scuba dive to search the bottom of the sea then that is what it takes. The only thing you have to decide if you have the right stuff.
If your low tide is at night you will need a few things before you attempt to hunt. You will need a light to look into your scoop for the goodies and it needs to be waterproof. I found a yellow penlight with a two cell capacity which is sealed by “O” ring and really waterproof because I have had mine underwater. It was also very inexpensive and found at the sporting goods store. It comes with a braided loop you can hang on your belt and I can use it from there to peek into the scoop. When you enter the water at night you are really at the mercy of the sea when you cannot see the area around you so you should wear protective clothing that can keep the stinging jellyfish away from you and do not expose your white legs because feeding sharks may take you for a meal. There was a 10 year old girl yesterday that was bitten badly by a shark at Galveston. They will generally leave people alone unless a white hand or leg looks like something they eat. Also the clear waters of some places like Florida have barracuda which will attack you if they see a wristwatch flashing on your arm so take care and if possible go with a buddy. I am not trying to scare you but just inform you to take the proper precautions.
It is peaceful and pretty at night and can be a pleasant experience. You should hunt the low tides on the wet sand and in the water because you are able to access much of the swimming area that is now on wet sand or shallow water where it had been too deep before to work quickly. Everyone who water hunts tends to work around a certain depth and just walks up and back along the beach not changing the depth a lot. The exposed wet sand is a formidable area to hunt. First of all it is too large to cover, the time is too short, and difficult to be able to work wet sand and the water also in a scant hour or two? I face that problem every time I hunt the low tides but you learn to forget a lot of what you have heard and learn what you need to be able to adjust to that kind of metal detecting. You should remember that the key is speed so begin with the waters edge and back about 15 feet. That is about two passes along the water for me and I will walk down along the waters edge dragging my shovel and then move over 8 feet and make sure that I don’t miss anything. After I have extracted the gold from the wet sand then I begin working the water. I will not work the deep water then because even the knee deep water will be five feet deep on high tides and much easier and FASTER to work than at any time. Perhaps you have still, calm water but I have large breakers that crash around you with strong undertow that pulls my scoop straight out to sea so I can then work that kind of area fast and easy and reap the golden rewards. I have discussed the cold weather attire you should obtain in another story and you should know that it is not too difficult for an old man like me to hunt in early January with strong north winds blasting dry sand out to me in the water and the water temps quite cold. It is just that you need the correct protection to hunt like that and the determination to achieve success in your enterprise.
I have studied the sand erosion because it seemed to mystify me to how several feet of sand could disappear and then re-appear so quickly. I have learned not from books but by studying the beaches every week and noting the changes. The sand is removed by the winds that we get when the cold fronts blow in very strong. Before the front gets here the strong onshore wind has high tides up on the beaches and then the cold fronts suddenly changes wind direction and begins blowing maybe 40 mph out of the opposite direction. The current takes the sand right off the beach and out offshore where the current moves it along as it settles to the bottom. It is both the heavy sandy surf just prior to the front that moves it and the offshore cold wind that blows dry sand over the water. They both move a tremendous amount of sand and of course the coins and jewelry just stay where they were and settle down to the firm bottom where they lodge themselves in the ripples of the clay and sink very slowly. This is why that these things suddenly become available when you had searched the beaches before inch by inch and removed everything. The sand is removed and you have your treasure just like that.
In the summer the reverse happens when the onshore winds blow and the rough waters churn up sand from the bottom and deposit it on the beach and at a fairly rapid rate too. In the early summer you will only find things shortly after they have been lost because the sand is covering up everything so fast. You just need to understand what the beach is and how it works to be able to find treasures all of the time. There is a thrill to beach and water hunting that is seldom experienced on the school grounds or the parks and I believe you can see that it takes some daring to grab the golden ring. As detecting is addictive then beach and water metal detecting is more so. Reach out and experience this for yourself and when you stand in the surf while the seagulls sail overhead you will find your rewards abundantly.