Secrets of Metal Detecting Saltwater Beaches
Just when everyone you know thinks you are a few bricks shy of a load for going to the beach and metal detecting you might be picking up some of the first hints of the secrets of the beach. Beaches have differences, that is true, but there are many things that they have in common. They are in a constant state of change even though they look to you to be the same. Almost every time you go there are vast differences and you cannot find consistent goodies without this knowledge. Either be prepared to spend thousands of hours going beach and water hunting to learn it, or listen up, and I will add my little bit to get you started in the right direction.
You must have exact information about tides on the area where you hunt and do not think because you know the tide for a beach 25 miles from there that it will be the same because it is not. If you can not get the exact area you wish to hunt then get the closest to it and spend time at your beach to mark the high and low tides and compute the difference yourself. Today the internet contains wonderful information about tides and you can display and print it in several ways including graphs. Only for a short season in the entire year do you have the annual low tides and if you look at a graphic display you will see that at certain times there is a larger difference between the high and low tides and the low tide will go sharply lower than any other time of the year. There may be three or four times when this appears but only one time when it is the most pronounced. Shortly before and after this key day the tides are almost as good but the tides alone do not insure that you will find anything!
You must time the low tide with the occurrence of an offshore wind or (depending on the shape of your bays and beaches) which may not be more than a couple of degrees of the compass off the perfect wind. This wind depends on your area and will drain the water level and expose much more beach. This is where you come in. You have to watch the times when these winds blow at the beach and use a compass to mark the perfect degree to maximize this lower water level. You may discover that the wind blowing along the beach from a certain angle will cut washes in the sand. Record all of your information and don’t rely on your memory because the important little things may slip away from your memory.
When you have determined the angle the wind had to blow from and the peak low annual tide they BOTH have to coincide to give you what you want. This is the hard part, you can wait all year for the day to come and instead of the right wind you get a strong wind from the wrong direction and surf that piles water high on the beach anyway. You have a few days around the perfect day to get these conditions just right and don’t waste your time unless they are good because a few degrees off of perfect and it is a wasted day.
Another thing to know is that the days when you have the largest change between low and high tide will cause sand to be removed from the beach. I have gone to a beach that I have covered every square inch with my coil several times and yet the large differential tides removed some sand and I found a large patch of coins up near the high tide mark that was not there a few days before. It seems to me at Galveston that the strong south winds dirty the water and force the water higher onto the beach and when a very strong cold front blows an offshore wind the sand suspended in the dirty water is carried out to sea revealing more objects that were deeper in the sand and I think that winter removes sand here and summer builds it. You may water detect along one beach and find every target but do not think that there is no need to return and do it again! The winds and tides cause much sand to be removed and redeposited continually and the area where you found no targets may produce good finds in the next few days when the sand is moved some.
When you get to the beach on your perfect day just look at it for a bit and view the troughs and washes that are exposed. these don’t always remain in the same location but detect the washes and listen carefully because the goodies may be deep in the sand. Leave to arrive a couple of hours before the perfect time so you can maximize your hunting time. Work the wet sand where it may have been four foot deep under the sea only a short time before and move quickly until you begin finding an area where coins or hairpins are found and then slow down and remember that only the little area in the center of your coil will actually reach deeper, not the large area around it. You will miss the small rings unless you go very slow in these areas. I move down the beach very quickly “until” I find a good spot and then move very slow. Strangely enough the good areas may be in little patches on the beach with unproductive areas all around them and I am not quite sure why this occurs but I know to look for them. Jewelry will often be found with the coins.
Everyone has heard that you hunt after a storm has shifted the sand and washed out areas at the beach but when the water is full of sand and really dirty the bottom may be exposed to a degree that you have not discovered before. Water detect but do not get caught in the storm riptides and undertow. It is not worth it to risk your life for a little gold.
Only after you have water hunted for a long time do you begin to get a feel for the rip tides and where to expect them and how to observe them. The rip tides are also gateways to treasure but careful that you don’t have RIP posted over your grave. Know where the riptides are and when they shut down because when they are still for a very short time and you will find that the tides had eddies where they deposited goodies that you can reach in the lull between the tides.
Many shorelines have rock groins extending out into the water and some of these have places where tides have deposited goodies in eddy pools you may find but be careful of the deep pits around some of these groins as they are very dangerous.
In addition to your newfound knowledge of the sea you should locate an internet camera which will display the beaches near you and view it every day of the year as you build your information. Aside from everything you think you know there are dynamics of wind and sea that can only be discovered by watching it on a regular basis. If you are fortunate to live within view of a beach then consider that you can be a great service to those around you by providing a daily picture on the internet for others to see. The cost is very low and I will help you to put it online if I can. Please return the kindness by giving others information to the benefit of us all, because even if you live far away from the beach, you can plan when to take your vacation when you will really find something of value at the seashore.
Much of the beach and sea is still unlearned and much of the information is concealed because it is hard to obtain. I hope you appreciate this information and use it productively. When you learn more about the beach then share it with us all instead of keeping the information to yourself. There are more treasures in the sea than men can take in a million years and never, never, believe that a beach has been hunted out.