Thursday, April 7, 2011

4/7/11 Report - Finds on the Trail of the Atocha & Beach Hunting

Part of a Chart Showing Holes Blown on the Atocha Trail.

The chart was received by email from the Fisher organization.

Each circle indicates a blown hole. Green indicates a hole where an iron spike was found, yellow indicates gold, pink indicates pottery, and purple, silver coins.

I've been talking about record keeping in this blog, and you can see here how the pros use record keeping.

The reason that record keeping is so important to any detectorist is that finds are not randomly distributed, but there are patterns. When you can figure out what is going on, and how objects are being distributed you can make better use of your time.

You can see that around the holes where silver coins were found they blew many overlapping holes, whereas in other areas where nothing was found in the first holes, they spent less time.

I've advised the same kind of thing in this blog. When you find something interesting, slow down and check the area more thoroughly. Similar objects tend to be found together, especially when they are older and have been exposed to the forces of nature, which sifts and sorts them.

Sample different areas and use the results of your sample to help determine where to spend your time.

The main difference between what the salvage boats do and what individual detectorists do, besides having huge areas protected by leases to work, is that the salvors have blowers and can move the sand. Detectorists have to wait for nature to move the sand before they get a shot at the accumulated old buried targets.

If you look at the illustration, you'll see a dense line of silver coins running from the bottom right corner up towards the center of the illustration where the coin line appears to run out. You'll also see an area just to the left of that where they haven't blown any holes yet.

If you detect in the water or in the wet sand, you'll find spots that continue to produce coins and other objects on a periodic basis. If you keep records or remember those spots, and check them occasionally you'll sometimes find nothing but other times find that the spot has been replenished. Sometimes the appearance of being replenished is due to the fact that the sand got removed more at that spot and you can get down to deeper targets. Individual detectorists seldom get down to bedrock level or even a good hard packed bottom, but it is great when it happens.

Anyhow, when you find some good holes, most especially when it is in an area that has a hard bottom, such as rock or clay, check that area periodically. Some spots will produce frequently, others annually, while others only once or twice a decade or even century. In any case, a good spot is worth checking every once in a while. Often all you have to do is check visually and you'll be able to tell if the conditions are good or not.

The above applies more to older targets and the wet sand and water areas. If you hunt the dry sand, things are a bit different. Nature does not move the sand as much there and does not sift and sort targets as much in the dry sand, and most often you are dealing with recent drops in the dry sand. That is a different ball game. It is also different because most dry sand areas are detected frequently enough that you won't find many old targets unless they were deposited years ago and are now beyond detecting range for most detectorists. Sometimes, although much more rarely, the dry sand will be moved enough to expose some of those older targets.

Most of the good dry sand areas are hunted frequently. There are however some good dry sand areas that are not hunted for one reason or another. Some are too far from convenient parking. Most detectorists go where they can get out of their car and hit the beach without walking too far.

There are also times when things either fall out of the back dunes or cliff onto the dry sand, or when the dry sand gets hit by some unusually high waves or tides and older targets are all of a sudden within detecting range.

Often, even on some of the heavily hunted beaches, you can find a few older and deeper targets that have been missed by simply doing a better job of detecting than the other guys. Some beaches are hunted frequently but poorly.

But most often hunting the dry sand means hunting recent drops, which, as I've said, is a different ballgame than working the wet sand or water.

In a post not too long ago, I gave you some of the factors to consider when evaluating a tourist beach.

After doing that evaluation, the next important thing is to quickly run a loose scan to see what you can tell about what has been going on there. Has the beach been hunted? Well or poorly? Is there trash to left behind to mask good targets? Where do the people congregate? What do they do on different parts of the beach?

One little secret is that the best place for finding jewelry in the dry sand is not necessarily where the most people congregate. The sitting and sun bathing areas are good, but they are not as good as the areas where people are active, such as volleyball courts.

Usually there will be a place where the crowds are more dense, either sitting or laying. Around those areas where the crowds are thinner are the areas where people are more active, playing football, volley ball, Frisbee, or just being more rowdy and careless and losing more things.

I got into a few little tips on detecting the dry sand tourist beaches today after starting out on the trail of the Atocha. I guess I did some rambling today.

There are no significant changes in Treasure Coast beach conditions today so I won't bother with that much except to say that sand will be trucked in and dumped on the beach south of the Fort Pierce inlet. They say they need to be done by April 30 because of turtle nesting season. And I think I heard they have so far failed to get funding to dredge the St. Lucie inlet.

A case of too much sand one place and not enough someplace else.

Just this morning I noticed something about an old find that I never noticed before and I can't wait to go research that.

So Happy hunting,