This was the very first article I wrote regarding shallow water metal detecting. In Australia, I wrote it shortly after meeting Tim Mcnickle using a Whites PI1000 in Elwood. Whilst other people were detecting on the goldfields I had found a new way of finding it. Having had the beach to ourselves for four years, it was time to tell the others how to do it.
Every treasure hunter dreams of being self sufficient and having a source of income with no bottom to the barrel. Imagine owning your own gold mine, money tree or bank, where despite your withdrawals, you could never flatten your account. Water is perhaps the last frontier, where vast expanses of virgin territory exists today.
Few people realize that more treasure is lost in water than on land. Even items lost on land will eventually end up in water. The amount of goodies lost in water is mind boggling. Apart from the coins, there are numerous jewelry items such as rings, watches, pendants, ingots, I.D. bracelets, chains and brooches.
Unlike any gold field, the water is the one place where the gold will never be exhausted, owing to continuity of replenishment. Next time you pass a jeweler's window, have a look at the prices of those rings, ingots and valuables. A one carat diamond ring for instance can range from four to 5 figures depending on the quality.
A good thick wedding band, can weigh as much as fifteen grams, that's almost half an ounce. With gold at toady's prices that's not bad should you find one. In some parts of the World people are finding 50 to 100 gold rings a day. What about the ingots, they vary from 5 grams to an ounce of .999 pure in the case of gold. Finding such a trinket could be compared to finding a nugget of equivalent weight.
People are still wearing ID bracelets, that were all the rage in the 60s. I have found several ladies ones in silver weighing upto 55 grams. Men wear heavy gold ones, some weighing as much as three ounces, imagine finding one of those. People have always loved the water, beach, lakes, rivers, creeks, and even dams, which they used to cool off in on a hot sunny day. Water hunting, is new to Australia, but has been going on for years in the U.S.A.
I predict this facet of metal detecting will become very popular in the near future. (One of my predictions that did come true.) In November 1980 I decided on an all out effort to search the water, Here's how I did it, but owing to hidden dangers, the author and publishers of this magazine take no responsibility for any damage to your detector should you attempt the same.
Metal detector's are basically designed for use on land and have short stems. this restricts the users to a water depth of only 18 inches. To overcome this problem, a special search rod was constructed for me by a local engineering firm. The next item on the agenda was to lengthen the cables to the coil and headphones.
Having read an article in an american magazine, I carefully studied the photographs of these guy's floating their detectors on inner tubes looking for clues. Photographs in magazines consist of a series of dots, you don't magnify the detail only the dots so they were of little use.
The problem was to join two lengths of cable together and keep the water out at the same time. Eventually a solution to my problem was found in the form of a piece of clear plastic tubing large enough to fit over the connectors. Rubber Bungs used for wine making would be drilled and cut with a razor blade and a couple of radiator hose clips either side would ensure a water-tight seal. Elementary my dear Watson.
A visit to a car wrecker got me a couple of innertubes onto which I fitted a wooden box to hold my metal detector. I had removed the insulating shaft from my old search rod and I now fitted it to the new one I had made for me. Coils although waterproof are buoyant and to overcome this I had purchased quite a lot of buckshot from a gunsmith and filled the tube of my new search rod with it.
Many coils which have been subjected to a lot of use on the goldfields may have minute cracks in them, these will allow salt water in. Once water gets into a coil, it cant be repaired, the only solution is to replace it with a new one. Being the careful owner that I am, I had bought skid plates for my coil from new so I was working with and old but still new looking coil. Searching water is different to on the land.
Most people know that detector's go banana's once they even get near salt water. Once in the water though things will work out. Raise your coil off the sea bed about 6 inches and press the retune switch, your detector should go quiet.
Don't worry, it's still working. You can ground cancel in fresh water, but not in salt. this is why the detector goes quiet. Water being a conductor should in theory add to the depth capabilities of your detector.
You can work in both VLF or TR modes. I prefer the later owing to the numerous nails and junk found in the water. It is a great dumping place remember. I usually turn up the discriminator just enough to knock out nails. At this level there is no risk of losing small gold rings. Special recovery tools need to be constructed as none are made in Australia.
My scoop consists of a heavy gauge screened steel, it's nine inches long and 6 inches deep. The handle is made from an old gas pipe with a curved handle. This works just fine and a target can usually be recovered in the first scoop. Towing a floating screen behind you will speed up recovery of the object. One can be made out of aviary wire attached to a wooden frame and floated on a motorcycle inner tube.
WAVES, WINDS AND TIDES
knowing something about conditions will assist in successful searching too. For instance always work two hours before and two hours after low tide. This allows you to get into area's previously unexplored for about 4 hours. Knowing when the tides are going to occur will help so obtain a tide chart, most B.P. garages give them away. Wind causes waves, which in turn affect the bottom for instance an off sea wind can bring sand up onto the beach, piling sand up onto the natural bottom.
Natural bottoms can be clay or stones. This is where the goodies are. An off shore wind on the other hand will remove the sand and take it out to sea. This is sometimes known as a blowout, but the wind must be in excess of 30 mph to be of any good. When it does happen, oncoming waves are flattened by the force of the wind and the sea is flat like a duck pond. Another quirk of nature is known as cut out, this is when waves race up the beach and undercut the sand.
Cliff like structures appear which are undermined by the oncoming water. Eventually the overhang breaks off, the sand is then returned to the sea. Usually modern coins are carried with this sand back into the sea and can be found at the water's edge, sometimes the occasional ring too. Whenever you go on the beach, keep an eye out for sand bars.
A short distance from the sand bar usually on the beach side, a channel will form which is slightly deeper than surrounding area's. It is in this channel that most goodies will be found, especially if signs of bottom, rocks and stones are visible. As the sea is in a constant state of flux, changing and moving all the time, so is the bottom
Some days Neptune will open up his locker and you can recover all sorts of goodies. Don't expect it to be like that all the time though, tons of sand can be dumped over your hunting ground and you will not find a thing until the sand moves once more. Understanding geology of the sea is just as important to the water hunter as it is to the land based prospector. Do your research, before you search.
UNDERWATER METAL DETECTORS.
Special Underwater metal detector's are now available through good retailer's. During the early days some manufacturer's produced machines suitable for fresh water but couldn't work in salt water. The main problem the abundance of black magnetic sands, such as hematite. This mineral causes Induction Balance detectors to give false signals. You end up digging holes that only contain black sands, and no targets.
Some of the very early underwater detectors, made by J.W. Fisher only had a meter, no earphones, it was great if you were swimming with scuba gear but had it's limitations. In future you can expect to hear quite a lot about the White's PI 1000 underwater metal detector.
Burns Scott the distributors, offered me one for testing without headphones, I now know why... Tim McNickle of Sydney was using the PI at Elwood when we met and became good buddies. During the five days we worked together Tim only dug up junk, with the exception of a few coins. I even took him to one of my favorite spots where I had found four gold rings in a day. Tim worked dammed hard at it but the best he could do was pick up junk. Let me elaborate on this for a moment.
The PI1000 is made in Inverness in Scotland, It is a Pulse Induction machine as such it it highly sensitive to small ferrous objects. When turned on it sounds like a ticking clock, this is because unlike conventional detectors it has a mechanical warning device.
When an object is bought near the coil those clicks speed up, something like the old BFO machines we used years ago. There is no change in tone or pitch in the signal. Just a steady increase of speed of the clicks. It is possible to pinpoint but not as accurately as a T.R. You must sweep north, south, east and west during pinpointing.
During the half hour that Tim allowed me to use his PI1000, I only dug up trash. This does not mean it wont find gold rings, it will but you must dig every target in the hope of finding one.
Tim found one in the U.S.A. but admits he had to dig a lot of junk to do it. A test report published in an American Magazine stated that a ring would give a single beep or click in both directions. A ferrous object would give a double signal in one of the directions.
This is impossible, it was obvious to me that the person who wrote that report had probably never even seen it yet alone experienced White's bone conductor. With this sort of verbal diarrhea being published one not only doubts the credibility of the author but also that of the magazine that published the report.
Garrets have gone one step further and introduced the XL 200 which is the worlds first discriminating Pulse Induction metal detector. Pulse Induction, once popular in the U.K. lost it's popularity owing to it's over sensitivity to ferrous objects and high battery drain. T.R.s are now being used instead of PIs.
D-Tex are introducing the ultimate underwater metal detector, known as the Scuba King, modern technology has been used to develop this superb detecting device. Working at 15 Kilohertz V.L.F. a frequency noted in Australia for its ability to locate minute nuggets on the goldfields, it is an excellent looking machine.
It features automatic ground canceling and discrimination, the being set to eliminate ferrous objects but retain the ability to detect small white gold rings. The circuitry is enclosed in a watertight cylinder mounted to a search rod with an eight inch coil. Two external controls which rotate around the cylinder use magnets to activate the device.
The lower control selects one of the two battery packs, which is used until it totally discharges. It is then rotated to bring in the second set of batteries. No other detector has a feature such as this to my knowledge. A special charger is included in the package to recharge the batteries, good one Mr. D-Tex.
With the cost of batteries these days, it pays to use Nicads, over a period of time will save you heaps of money. The uppermost control is a simple on/off switch.
Simple being the key word because you just turn it on and start producing. It's that easy. Two stems are supplied as standard equipment, a short one for diving and a long one for wading which extends to about 50 inches. Although no visual meter is available, the headphone or bone conductor gives a beaut audio signal when an object is detected.
This can be placed under a wet suit helmet or inserted into a special pair of ear muffs (supplied) and used as conventional headphones. The Scuba King is fully submersible to a depth of 200 feet which is far more than you will ever encounter. Using the Scuba King is sensational, a pistol grip and hipmount arm support makes the detector an extension of your arm.
Very little drag is experienced during scanning. Almost neutral buoyancy is built into the instrument, however a small lead weight is included for fitting to the cylinder to achieve this. Pinpointing is achieved by shaking the coil over the target.
Getting the Goodies. During tests on a cold day in April in a well populated swimming area, the third target produced a small delicate child's ring with a heart shaped green stone. Numerous coins were recovered together with spoons, sinkers and other items, it got the goodies and left the trash for the others.
Some of the items required several scoops to be removed. This is indicative of the excellent depth penetration of the V.L.F. This mode of operation is included in all latest Hi-Technology detectors. Recovery of objects missed by the old TRs should be dead easy owing to the extra depth.
My search for the ultimate underwater recovery device is now finished. When working in water, it is best to start at the waters edge towards the sea. Wading in water its possible to cover strips about 4-5 feet wide until a comfortable depth is reached. You would be amazed how much ground can be covered in this fashion It's gridding in water instead of on land.
What does the well dressed water hunter wear, it could be jeans, waders or a wet suit. I prefer the later because it not only keeps you warm but is also more streamlined.
Always wear some kind of foot protection, there's plenty of broken glass and other objects that could injure your feet. With the advent of the Scuba King you can now search in any weather, the rougher the better. However modifieds are restricted to calm weather only. Remember one drop of salt water could cost you a new circuit board, speaker, meter, coil and battery pack. They all cost money and time
Never search with a modified detector when there are waves about, the risks are too great and manufacturer's frown upon the use of a machine for which it was not designed.
Melbourne's John Crowley uses a modified Fisher 1260 and A2B, he prefers the 1260 owing to it's ground canceling capabilities. John averages $8 in modern coins, apart from all the oldies on an average day. His best find so far is a 58 gram silver wrist bracelet.
Known as the Silver man, owing to his collection of silver rings, John recently lost his nickname after finding his first gold ring John like Tim and myself will be customers for the new Scuba King so that we can exploit the potential of this area. With a coastline as great as Australia's water hunting will become very popular with our treasure hunters. The rewards are great, but danger exist even in the water.
It's a case of WHO DARES WINS. This was the very first article I wrote about shallow water metal detecting in Australia. Later, much later after I started to learn more about my new environment, I realized, that Pulse machines such as the Whites allowed you to get into the channels were all those goodies were waiting to be recovered. Everything was trial and error, nothing was easy.
Learning about this new environment took a great deal of time and effort. Today, passing on that knowledge ensures that individuals such as yourself, don't have to learn the hard way. We learnt through our mistakes blunders and lack of knowledge. Anyone reading my informative articles that they are today are given the facts and plenty of them. It's articles such as mine that make you successful, if you are prepared to put in the hard work, persistence and be dedicated. Nothing in life is meant to be easy including shallow water metal detecting.
Happy Hunting, Alan Hassell
Copyright by Alan Hassell 1/6/1984 all rights reserved Linkback:
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