Monday, June 25, 2012

6/25/12 Report - Debby Heads For Florida Panhandle and How People Shop for a Detector

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Projected Path of Debby.  From NOAA.

As you know, the weather has a huge impact on treasure hunting on the beach and in the shallow water, especially when you are hunting old shipwreck items.   We depend upon the movement of sand to expose old accumulated items, and the weather sometimes does that for us. 

Newly lost items are another matter.  They haven't become as deeply buried, but if they remain on the beach for a while, they will eventually be buried, and then when the sand is moved, exposed again.

We all know that old shipwreck coins occasionally are washed up on the beach.  I know some people will not agree with that, believing that the old coins that are found on the beach are simply uncovered when the beaches erode.  I've proven to my own satisfaction that while sometimes old coins are simply uncovered, they are also sometimes washed up on the beach. 

Anyhow, the weather is a very important factor when looking for old treasure coins.  You often hear about northeasters that wash treasure coins onto the beach.  And north/northeast winds do seem to be the most effective in producing good hunting for shipwreck coins.   Old coins and things are uncovered when there is a lot of erosion, and old coins are also washed up onto the beach when there are strong north/northeast winds. 

I usually read about northeasters, but in my opinion north winds are just as effective or even more effective in producing good hunting conditions.   However south and southeast winds and swells can also uncover old things, mostly when there are obstructions to the natural flow of sand, such as rocks or jetties.  Usually south and southeast winds build beaches and create poor conditions.

The two above paragraphs assume that you are on the east coast of Florida. 

I didn't intend to discuss all of that today, I just brought it up because I wanted to mention the importance of weather conditions.

We've been watching Tropical Storm Debbie.  Debbie has been hard to predict.  She has shown little movement and now appears headed for the Florida Panhandle.  I'm sure they are already feeling the effects up there.  If I were up there, I'd certainly be checking the beaches now.

On the Treasure Coast the wind is from the south, as are the swells.  We're having around two or three foot seas.  I wouldn't expect that to improve conditions significantly, even though there might be a few isolated spots where things improve a touch temporarily.  I'm referring to those places where the angle of the swells and any obstructions to the flow of sand coincide.

Moving on, the most recent blog poll has concluded and the results are in.  The poll asked, What is the single most important thing you consider when looking to buy a metal detector?

"Reliability" was the response selected by most of the respondents (26%).   People want a detector that they can rely on.  People don't talk much about a detector's reliability, but they expect it.  You can't use a detector that is in the shop all of the time.  And you need to have a detector that is ready to go when the conditions are good.

"Depth" was the second most often selected response (20%).   That is something people talk about a lot more than reliability.  You hear a lot of talk about how deep this or that detector will detect coins or other items.  I wouldn't have been at all surprised if that was the most popular response.  But it wasn't. 

In my opinion the importance of depth is often evaluated too highly.   Depth is also poorly evaluated most of the time.  It is not always easy to very accurately determine how deep an object was under field conditions, and many things will affect depth in the field.  Black sand, salt mineralization, the sand or soil, and all kinds of things.   Detectors will generally detect deeper in hard-packed water-soaked sand than in loose shells, for example. 

An air test does not tell the entire story.  The best evaluation is done under field conditions when all the particulars are taken into account.

Of course, different detectors will detect different materials differently.  Because one detector detects a dime or quarter at great depths, doesn't mean it will do as well on gold.   You should match your detectors capabilities with the targets you want to find and the conditions where you want to hunt.

As I've said before, most of the old shipwreck cobs that I've found were found in the first couple inches of sand.  When conditions are right, they will be near the surface.

And the third most popular response was "ease of use" (19%).  Ease of use and depth were nearly tied.  The problem with detectors that have a lot of sophisticated features is that it takes a while to learn to use them.  Many people want a detector that they can turn on and go and don't want to fool around with a bunch of intricate adjustments.  Other people like fiddling with technology.

If I combine discrimination (3%) and target identification (10%), which makes sense to me, the combined category of target analysis gets 13% of the responses, and comes in fourth.

12% selected "reputation" as the factor that they most consider.  They select a detector that other people have and talk about.  

Only 4% indicated that "price" is the most important factor.  From personal conversations, I'd have guessed that would have been higher. 

I recommend selecting an inexpensive detector for your first detector, but many of those who read this blog are very experienced and highly committed.  Many have been detecting for decades, so I'm sure that affected the responses.

And last (1%) was "product support."   I have heard a fair number of complaints about poor product support, mostly repair service, but also some good reports.  I think people expect good product support, and they expect a detector that is reliable and easy enough to use so that they won't need much product support.   That is why I think it was not rated higher.

People who have not used a detector before should consider different things than a very experienced detectorists.  For the new detectorist, I would advise a simple less-expensive detector for your first detector.   If possible, get a personal demonstration of the model you are interested in.  That will be a big help.

Happy hunting,