15/ Overcoming “Site Shock” at Old Locations
These shorelines have often been neglected in the intervening years, so you may encounter gravel, weeds, “muck,” shells instead of just sand. I’ve often had to deal with what I call “site shock” when arriving at one of these locations. What usually happens is that I get out of the car--take one look at what sounded like a promising location--compare it to what I had hoped for (sand, a clean beach, easy digging…), lose hope right away and don’t stay long enough to give the place an “honest try.” This is where a real pro shows his skill. The idea is to try and get the total picture before drawing conclusions. While there are certainly sites that are too overgrown or difficult to hunt, it takes a thorough assessment to determine this--which can only be done in the water. First look at the shoreline. Where was the center of activity at this location? Often the landscape will tell you this. Is there a clearing, structures, or level ground that would indicate where people picnicked, sunbathed and swam from? Once you have established this, get into the water and begin to asses the grade. Try to begin with a knowledge
of how the present shoreline height relates to how it was when the site was in use. Archival photos my help you to do this. (See “Site-Reading for Gold and Silver…” pg. 58). Now try and determine what kind of targets are available. By this I mean go out in to the water and look for the most solid ground that coincides with the activity center. Begin by digging a few solid, high-responding targets and examine these to determine what time period you are accessing. There are two models that can spell poor conditions:
1/ That major storms have stripped and re-filled the shoreline. This relates to the process of “exchange” which will be discussed in more detail below. In any event, it can mean that material from the shore has been taken out
deeper or moved along the shoreline. An extremely clean site can also mean that you are not searching the right area of the shore that saw activity. (Dredging activity in the intervening years is also a possibility).
2/ That precipitate (See “Site-Reading for Gold and Silver…” pg. 57) has covered targets over time. This may or may not be solvable. The shore
grade may be different at various locations along the edge, or storm activity may bring about changes periodically. I’ve hunted sites where the bottom was thick with “muck” and the shells of “Zebra Mussels” which were soft enough to dig your coil into and hunt through. The idea is to determine how much material is covering the grade and try and determine which if any detector might get through it. (I wear polarized sunglasses to be able to better see the bottom and make these key determinations). How to operate here also hinges on how much junk is present as in a cleaner site the use of a Pulse machine is more possible.
Anything you find is a clue that can give valuable information about:
• -the overall grade.
• -how the present shoreline relates to past conditions.
• -the depth of any possible good targets.
• -the depth of the base or marl.
• -the potential of the site (objects such as toys, bathing suit fasteners or hair berets are good indicators).
• -the usage patterns (coins versus “incidental” metal objects that are in the water such as nails, construction materials…) and where this activity took place.
• -the “era” in which a site was at its busiest. Also its important to understand how this relates to the grade--that is, how deep do you have to go to be finding targets from say the 1940’s?
What we are also looking for is any indication that the good targets are not vastly outnumbered by junk. Another factor which should inform your strategy is how far back the site saw the most use and how this relates to the amount of activity that took place in the intervening years. A lot of good pre 1960’s locations are hard to hunt because of the amount of recent “partier” junk that is present. This becomes even more critical if you hope to run a pulse.
Sand is a good indicator, but it can also mean that what you are looking for is out of reach. (At many old sites anything of value will be sitting on the marl and shallower targets can more or less be ignored as recent junk). While gravel or boulders make for lousy digging, they do prevent targets from sinking. There is a “tradeoff” between being able to dig with ease and
getting access to the entire time that a location has been in use. It’s the mark of a real pro to be able to go in and pry up rocks, sift gavel and work around other hardships to get down to the gold. This is how “Craig P.I.” of Connecticut finds a lot of his great old school, and association rings.
From: "Advanced Shallow Water Metal Detecting: Tips, Tricks and Methods for the Shoreline Treasure Hunter" by Clive James Clynick
Photo courtesy of "Craig P.I." Norwalk CT.Linkback:
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