This issue will cover some of the equipment you will need to be successful in your searches. The most important piece of equipment you will use is of course the metal detector. Rather than going into a detailed explanation of the various brands and models that are currently on the market, you might want to read the reviews for, “Underwater Metal Detectors”. This page covers the different circuits available and the pros and cons of each. The Metal Detectors Buyer Guide page will help you select the specific model for your needs.
A recovery tool of some sort is the next most important piece of equipment that you will use. For wading, a long-handled scoop is preferred by most hunters. While several plans have been published showing how to build your own scoop, a “store-bought” version using a field-proven design will last longer and save you hours in construction time.
The scoop should be made of materials that will hold up under even the most demanding conditions. A heavy gauge steel or stainless steel is recommended. The bottom of many abandoned, and even some in-use, beaches will be comprised of rocks, shells, clay, and other debris.
A lightweight scoop which may work fine on a sandy beach will quickly become bent and damaged under these conditions. An trick that will save you untold frustration is to place a small magnet in the back of your scoop. Many times a nail, bobby pin, or other small ferrous object will be picked up only to keep falling through the holes in the scoop. The magnet will catch all of these items rather than slipping back into the water.
For recovering targets in the dry sand area of the beach, a hand scoop is the best piece of equipment for the job. Scoops can be purchased in a variety of designs and are made from either metal or plastic. While a metal scoop will be more durable than one made from plastic, a plastic scoop does have one distinct advantage. Once a plastic scoop has been filled with sand, you can sweep it across the top of the metal detector’s search coil to check if the target is in the scoop. This is especially helpful in those cases where more than one target may have been located in a small area.
The floating sifter is a piece of equipment that can be easily built in a few hours and will dramatically increase the speed at which you can recover targets. Rather than having to search through the gravel, shells, and sand in the scoop to find and remove each target, you simply dump the entire mixture into the sifter and continue searching. As you pull the sifter behind you, the water will wash the sand and other debris away leaving the target in plain view. My book Advanced Water Working Techniques includes plans showing how to build two different floating sifters for under 20 GBP.
A sturdy mesh bag or plastic container which closes securely should be used to hold your finds while in the water. It can be attached to your sifters cord, hung around your neck, or if you are a diver, simply held in the same hand as your metal detector. If you find a piece of jewelry of other valuable item, you should take it back to your vehicle if at all possible, or at least have another pouch just for these types of items. Keep this pouch inside of your shirt or wet suit so that other people can not see what you have found. While I have not experienced it personally, several treasure hunters I know have told me about being mugged after a successful day in the water because they were willing to show their finds to people on the beach.
While treasure hunting in the water at night is not the preferred time to search an area, you may either find yourself in a spot that is producing too well to stop when the sun goes down or at a beach that only allows hunting after it closes for the day. A useful item for searching at night is a “miners light.” This is the type of flashlight that is placed on your head thereby leaving your hands free for locating and recovering targets.