Geeky Beach

Geeky Beach

Adventures in metal detecting

Meaningful Finds

As a metal detectorist, I often help people find their lost items or I find things and can reunite them with their owner when they have inscriptions for example. (Be…

As a metal detectorist, I often help people find their lost items or I find things and can reunite them with their owner when they have inscriptions for example. (Be sure to save my website and contact me if you lose something in Sunny Isles Beach or South Florida!)

People often ask me what I do with what I find – do I wear the nice rings or send them off to a pawn shop? Am I in it to make a buck or do I just enjoy being outside?

For me the answer is simple: I keep all of the objects I find and I make an effort to find the true owner. I tend not to wear the jewelry because it has meaning to someone else, not to me. I do not sell or scrap any of the items I find, for me I am in it because it’s great fun and I love the thrill of recovering objects.

When someone loses something important to them, I understand it isn’t just about the item itself…it’s the story and meaning it has to them! The best part of being a metal detectorist is reuniting someone with something they care about. The hugs I’ve received from finding lost engagement rings, lost wedding rings, lost necklaces, watches and more…you name it. It warms my heart every time.

When people approach me on the beach, they sometimes tell me about an object they lost. I take mental notes, I grab their contact information, and if I ever find that object…I can return it to them! That story played out recently in Sunny Isles Beach. In April 2019, a man told me he had lost a gold pendant with an eagle charm in the water. At that point in 2019, several months had already passed since he lost it.

I told him if I happened to find it, I’d get it back to him. This year in 2020 while hunting in the water I found it, and I was able to return it to him! The gold belonged to his mother and he was very excited to see it again. This is my favorite part of detecting.

When it comes to what I like to wear personally, I prefer jewelry that has meaning. When I find something on the beach, my focus is on the owner and the story they might have related to that item. Recently I have been involved with a project for a beautiful ring that I find very meaningful and I am proud to wear.

The shape and symbol stand for a belief in equality for all. (Aside: If you happen to find this ring as beautiful as I do, I hope you’ll make a pledge by Nov. 20, 2020 and get one for yourself. And if you lose it…be sure to call me!)

Just like everyone else, if I lost this ring I would want to do everything to find it. I love helping my neighbors or visitors to my area find their precious items. Thank you for reading and please send me your questions!

Links:
Contact me if you’ve lost something!

Get the Silver Amethyst ring on Kickstarter

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Metal Detecting Show & Tell – Replay: June 18, 2020

I was very fortunate to have two special guests on my first Show & Tell episode last week! Phil Massie and John Wooten joined me for a live discussion about…

I was very fortunate to have two special guests on my first Show & Tell episode last week! Phil Massie and John Wooten joined me for a live discussion about metal detecting and we took some audience questions.

Watch the replay below where I highlight the best stories and answers from our live webinar. And don’t miss the next time we go live! Stay tuned to GeekyBeach on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter so you can join future episodes.

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The Excitement of Show & Tell

Between March 19 through June 10, 2020 I didn’t do any detecting! Late into the COVID-19 shutdowns, various beaches began opening throughout the state of Florida, but traveling to them…

Between March 19 through June 10, 2020 I didn’t do any detecting! Late into the COVID-19 shutdowns, various beaches began opening throughout the state of Florida, but traveling to them didn’t feel like a wise move. Many of the locations saw too many visitors and decided to shut down again.

This past Wednesday, June 10, Miami-Dade County beaches reopened successfully. It was odd to be back on the beach with my detector early that morning – I felt a strange sense of unease. I went back out in the evening just to see if it would change my feeling. Fortunately, I saw people keeping their distance and staying in their family bubbles.

Even though I had an uneasy feeling, it was fun to once again share photos and videos of my finds on Instagram. During the shutdown, I did a few livestream sessions with my digital microscope to share some interesting finds with others. The virtual events and videos don’t fully replace the excitement of sharing finds with people in person, but it was a nice substitute.

What I realized is that the “show and tell” piece of detecting really brings us together and gets us excited, but a lot of times we don’t interact with each other in “real life.” That inspired me to reach out to some great accounts on Instagram to see who might want to participate in a show and tell session!

I’m happy to say many fellow detectorists are interested and we have the first one planned for Thursday, June 18th at 8 pm Eastern time. I can’t wait! If nothing else, having a discussion with another detectorist will help me feel connected even in this socially distanced time.

My first guest on June 18th will be Phil Massie – his finds in the PacNorWest compared with my Miami beach should be really entertaining! He has a great YouTube channel as well.

Sign up to attend so you can ask questions!

 

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Working from home isn’t always like this!

After many years working in small and large offices, I am at a place now in my career where I can work remote…and I prefer it! My natural working habits…

After many years working in small and large offices, I am at a place now in my career where I can work remote…and I prefer it! My natural working habits include a lot of time alone without the distraction of coworkers stopping by with questions or small talk that can derail my train of thought.

It’s a little bit like being out with a metal detector hunting before the sun sets and having a stranger stop to ask a bunch of questions about what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s okay, but when time is short or you’re in a groove…it really stinks to stop and try to be friendly.

I am more productive, more balanced in my life needs, and overall more creative when I work from home.

But now we’re in strange times – COVID-19 has many people transitioned to working from home for the first time. Obviously many careers aren’t possible to take remote. We need to thank everyone in healthcare, food, transportation and delivery, first responders, utility company technicians…and so many others who are working and taking more risk right now to help us. Not just thank them…we need to fight to make sure those careers are paid well and supported!

But for those of you who are faced with working from home for the first time…it’s not usually like this. At least part of the stress you feel right now is shared – we’re all facing the uncertainty of this particular virus situation. Then there are other stressors caused by our unique environments.

I’m working from home alone, so I don’t have to fight for quiet space when I’m on a conference call. I just have to mute when my cat meows in the background. I also don’t have kids to monitor or a dog to walk. But being alone also means I need more interaction time in my off hours with friends and family via phone, text, etc.

So your set of challenges may be different and may be causing an additional layer of stress. That’s still not typical for remote working. Generally when it’s a choice you’ve made, you would have had a chance to set up a home office with all the equipment necessary to be productive. And your kids would still usually be off to school or daycare…aaaaand you wouldn’t be worried about a global pandemic.

So cut yourself some slack right now if you’re a parent. Your colleagues are probably enjoying your kids and pets interrupting during Zoom calls. Allow yourself the space to be human and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. What you likely need the most help with is communication, environment, focus, and discipline.

Communication

There are some unique challenges depending on your work. Maybe your internet connection isn’t as fast at home as it was at the office. Certain things are probably taking longer than usual – let your managers and supervisors know! It’s important right now that we all embrace communication and transparency about our struggles.

We also have to work harder right now to prioritize and stay connected. If you don’t have a team chat room, it might be time to start one. There are free services out there like Discord that you could use to create chat spaces for your teams. Or if you aren’t using a project management software yet, it might be time to start. Check out services like Asana.

Environment

A home office is different than your desk in a traditional office space. Take some time soon to set up your space or reconfigure it to suit your daily tasks. Take advantage of whatever view or spot in the sun you can find and make sure you are comfortable, aren’t slouching to see your computer screen, and have access to most of what you usually have on your desk. Don’t choose a spot that you have to clean up or put away each day unless you have no other option. Let this become your spot.

You also have more options when stepping away for a break. Once you figure out how to manage it, it’s a blessing. But right now you may find it overwhelming and distracting.

Focus

dart boardThis is going to be important during this experience because we’re all still trying to get work done. Yes, deadlines might be a little tricky, but as a remote worker it’s important to find times when you can focus and get through your tasks.

When you get up for a drink or to take a mental break, have a plan for what you’re going to do and for how long. Sure…take that time to throw in a load of laundry, wash a dish or two, or walk the dog. But then keep it to just that activity during your work hours. Some find it very hard to resist tackling additional chores and then before you know it, you’re away from the work mindset for an hour or more. If you find that certain break activities are pulling you away too easily, save those for after hours.

Discipline

You’ve likely heard this advice everywhere already. Keep up with good healthy habits and establish some new ones specific to this odd quarantine time. But discipline isn’t just for your work, it’s for your personal life and health too! Keep track of how much time you’re spending in focus mode and don’t let it eat too much into your time with family, pets, and yourself.

Just like with caretakers, you are more helpful to others if you’re taking care of yourself. Find time for stress-relief and aerobic activity. Maybe your normal habits are still something you can do, but if you can’t (like metal detecting for me), then you might need to find an alternate for the spring months. Make a list of activities that you’d like to do and reference it when you’re feeling stressed or bored.

Bizarre Tip: Try wearing house shoes. If you can dedicate a clean pair of comfortable athletic shoes to wearing in the house, you might find that it helps you feel more productive or capable. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!

Good luck to all of you. Say thank you to people in your life who are in healthcare or healthcare-related fields. Make sure you reach out to your family members. Even the people in your life you think always “have it together” might need a phone call. They may be silently in need of some communication time too.

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Who is traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Not only do I spend a lot of time looking down in the sand or dirt. I also spend a good bit of time looking up. Maybe I can just…

Not only do I spend a lot of time looking down in the sand or dirt. I also spend a good bit of time looking up. Maybe I can just say… I pay attention to my surroundings!

In addition to the cruise ships spending more time at Miami Anchor, there are far fewer airplanes going by. Generally on a day when winds are from the east, I will see flights from Miami International Airport make a big turn north. I watch them from my desk window and wonder where they’re headed. So far this morning, I have seen only a few.

We know air travel is greatly reduced, but who are the people traveling right now?

I went to the United website and searched for some common flights – Miami to Newark, Miami to Chicago, etc. The following flight to Newark from Miami scheduled for March 27 is nearly full:

Miami to Newark United Airlines flight seat assignments March 27, 2020

And this March 28 flight to Chicago is mostly available and notably reduced in price. This flight to Chicago from Miami is available for as low as $29 USD or a first class ticket for $297 USD – normally close to $600 or more for last minute.

Miami to Chicago United Airlines flight seat assignments March 28, 2020

One article from Politico points to New York snowbirds and the super rich as potential issues for the state of Florida. The article suggests that nearly all flight traffic from New York area is halted, but that’s not exactly true.

Here is a look at the Flightaware Airport Activity for March 27 at 10:30 am Eastern:

Flightaware Airport Traffic Map

And here is a flight you can buy today from Newark to Miami for $65 (economy) or $296 (first class). It’s definitely not empty, so who are the people flying?

Newark to Miami United Airlines flight seat assignments March 27, 2020

One thing that seems clear to me, the people not traveling right now are spring-breakers and cruise-goers. The beaches are closed, by now most hotels are closed and have kicked out or cancelled reservations. Florida tourists have gone home.

So the people left are…the snowbirds.

This is the time of year when I normally secretly celebrate the departure of snowbirds. My prediction is usually that after Easter, the roads are clearer, the beaches less crowded…all because New Yorkers, Canadians, Michiganders have all returned home. Summer in Florida is for locals and I’ve been able to call myself a local for a few years now.

But this year is going to be very different. I would be curious to know how snowbirds are making their decisions? Are they planning to leave Florida early to perhaps escape to a hometown with fewer cases of COVID-19? Are they disappointed by the closed beaches and would prefer early spring in their northern environment?

Until I hear more from my snowbird neighbors, I’ll watch the pelicans. Their plans to migrate north are unchanged.

Pelicans migrating north

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Cruise Ships off the coast of Miami

Because my backyard is a beach and a state park, both of them are now closed to me as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are not able to…

Because my backyard is a beach and a state park, both of them are now closed to me as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are not able to use the pool, and must remain socially distanced as recommended. There is also a curfew in place in my city from 11 pm to 5 am for the foreseeable future.

Most local, county, and state parks are closed, and I don’t have any friends who have access to large open fields…so I’m effectively unable to get out and detect for a while. It’s not a complaint – I’m certainly taking this pandemic seriously. But it does mean that I’m missing one of my favorite activities right now.

So I have been focusing on my other interests and trying to find new ways to enjoy being at home. Photography, drone video, cleaning and organizing…those are the interests that will get me through the stay at home measures.

I have been watching a growing “herd” of cruise ships drifting off the coast of Miami, east of the port. It’s funny to see them bunched together as they wait. I wonder about the staff who remain onboard. Usually they have guests to entertain and a journey to other places!

Have you ever used a cruise mapping application or website? Looking at Cruisemapper, I can track which ship is out there and usually what their destination would be. It’s pretty interesting and fun to see what is around your area.

There are currently several clusters of cruise ships throughout the Caribbean.

Here you can see the names of the ships I am seeing in the “herd”

Obviously right now, the usual trip paths are not happening. The MSC Meraviglia has been there for days and new ships seem to be joining them in this holding pattern.

It will be interesting to see how the cruise industry is ultimately impacted by this pandemic. Even when it first started being a source of infections in February, people were still boarding and taking their planned vacations until recently in March. So it seems that customers are willing to take the risk – perhaps in the long run, they will be okay.

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COVID-19 and Air Traffic Patterns

Sometimes a visual makes all the difference. When you look at the spread of this particular virus and compare it to air traffic patterns and the most common and highly-used…

Sometimes a visual makes all the difference.

When you look at the spread of this particular virus and compare it to air traffic patterns and the most common and highly-used routes, it shouldn’t be surprising where infection starts. That’s why avoiding travel makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it.

That’s why no government should have been surprised by the first countries and cities to have reported cases.

Using data from:
https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com
and
https://gis.icao.int/gallery/

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Beach Closed

Last night I went on the beach by myself to get exercise and end of day detecting as I normally do. The rules up to that point were groups no…

Last night I went on the beach by myself to get exercise and end of day detecting as I normally do. The rules up to that point were groups no less than 10, and I’m always by myself at a large distance from others. But it wasn’t long before the police cart came by to tell me the beach is simply closed. Walking, running, any individual activity is just off limits.

It really hit me hard. I have taken this situation seriously and haven’t been traveling or around other people since Saturday, March 15. Prior to that, I avoided people and remained at the safe distance. But I have been able to leave my small condo building without seeing other people and detect until that moment.

I won’t be one of the people who ignore orders. I won’t represent the metal detecting community in a negative way. Much like the many runners and bike riders who are now missing the long beach path and park biking path, I’m now doing absolutely everything I can to stay away from others.

Today, borders are closing, some states like California have taken extreme measures to keep everyone inside. I hope we are able to curb the spread so that these efforts weren’t too little too late. I see other social networks where there are conspiracy theories flying around like crazy. People are complaining or saying they don’t think this is necessary.

I guess they need to understand that it’s necessary because we just don’t know.

I definitely feel the stress. It seems the U.S. President is constantly making things a bit worse by continuing to point fingers at the media, while the health experts have to correct him one moment later. It’s not making us normal people feel any better or any more comfortable that they know what to do.

I’m worried that it will get worse because so many people will be more concerned about their personal needs than the needs of all. So I’m staying home. I’ll do more coin research or organize my old finds. I’ll play with my digital microscope and do some of the things I’ve had on my list for years. I can be flexible and find a new way to relieve stress while doing my small part to contribute positively to this situation.

I’d like to host a “Show and Tell” webinar with other detectorists out there to share what we’ve found! Would you attend?! Send me an email and let me know if this is something you’d like to do while we’re unable to get out like normal.

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Covid-19 and Metal Detecting in Miami

I have seen a lot of posts on social networks about how metal detecting is a socially-isolating activity – and that’s certainly true! Unless you make a point to hunt…

I have seen a lot of posts on social networks about how metal detecting is a socially-isolating activity – and that’s certainly true! Unless you make a point to hunt with friends, it’s something you can go do all on your own.

I detect by myself unless I’m giving lessons or have some friends who want to come with me. I go out almost every day unless the weather is too crazy or I need a break. It’s great exercise, and stress relief from work.

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization) on March 11, 2020, some things in Miami have changed dramatically and others have seemed to remain kinda normal. As you may have recently seen on the news, there are some Spring Breakers who have been ignoring the advice to distance themselves socially.

Here’s a video posted by a cool account @Wavy_Boats that posts videos of boats making their way through the Haulover Inlet. They noticed how these particular people were clearly not keeping their distance either.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Wavy Boats (@wavy_boats) on

This is a photo from Sunday, March 15 of a public beach in Miami and it looks like a normal Sunday – maybe even a little more than a normal Sunday. Not much evidence of social distancing there!

I decided to track the beach attendance throughout this week and have seen a steady decline and a little more evidence of distancing.

3/17/2020 – Fewer people, but still a large group of regulars.

3/18/2020 – More space again, but still looking like a weekday.

And then today…March 19, 2020…Miami-Dade has shut down beaches and parks. Story from the Miami Herald

I saw the Miami-Dade trucks and employees waving at runners on the beach path to turn around. More trucks have arrived and they are watching the entrances. The beach is empty today.

You should also look at each photo again and notice there are always one or two cruise ships in the background. That’s not a coincidence…those ships have been hanging out there for days just moving slightly. I don’t have much information about them yet, but I know one of them is the MSC Meraviglia which may be empty now after some controversial decisions to let passengers leave without screenings. (Story from Miami Herald)

As we go through the next hours, days, weeks and…months? I will continue to share my thoughts and stories from Miami and hope that the measures we are taking will help prevent additional deaths. I also see this as a moment where some important things will change for the world when it comes to health care, cleanliness practices, and supporting the people who are currently working hard to care for others.

Update: 3/19/2020
All beaches including public and private under the jurisdiction of Miami-Dade county are closed. This now includes my “backyard” and means I’m not sure if I can go out for a walk on the private portion of the beach. I will have to learn more as information is provided by my local government.

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Understanding Longshore Drift and Metal Detecting

I spent some time in my local metal detecting shop recently and had the opportunity to listen as a customer purchased a brand new Minelab Equinox 600. He was so…

I spent some time in my local metal detecting shop recently and had the opportunity to listen as a customer purchased a brand new Minelab Equinox 600. He was so excited! It was just the three of us in the shop, so it was a friendly discussion of experience.

He asked questions about beach hunting like, “Do I need a pinpointer?” “What kind of scoop should I buy?” “Is low tide the best time to search?” Everyone has a different answer for those questions, and my advice is always that experience is going to be the best guide!

I shared some stories of beachgoers asking me if I could find their lost item. I will absolutely help someone find their item if they can describe it very well, but there are a lot of factors to consider when you set out to find something specific.

That’s when we started talking about how things move in the sand – including the longshore drift. Though we didn’t refer to it as “longshore drift” while talking in the store, that’s the name of the process we were referring to when discussing how lost items move along the coast over time. For this topic I consulted my smart sister Kim – she’s a geologist who helped me understand this process on a deeper level!

What is longshore drift?

The basic definition of longshore (littoral) drift is the movement of sand and sediment along a shoreline over time, with the longshore current. The longshore current refers to the movement of water along a shoreline which is caused by the energy generated by breaking waves.

Let’s start by watching this short video:

The longshore drift is determined by the prevailing wind – that is the direction the wind generally comes from in that area. Most of the time, waves approach coastlines at an angle and push sand and sediment along the beach at that angle. The backwash pulls the sand straight back, where it becomes subject to the waves again.

Because of this, the sand will travel along the coast in the direction of the longshore current. That’s longshore drift in a nutshell!

How do longshore drift and longshore current relate to metal detecting?

The white arrows show the general drift south along these shorelines in Florida. (Not to be confused with the Gulf Stream!

Understanding longshore drift and current will help you learn how a beach changes over time, inform your choice of areas to hunt, and may help when you are searching for a lost item.

Put it to practice: Detect Smarter

Understanding how a beach and its sand and sediment change and move over time can help you find hot spots – areas where you notice patterns for the types of objects you find.

Related to the longshore drift, you can detect smarter by paying attention to where beachgoers spend their time on the beach and in the water, and remembering that over time, the things they lost may end up farther along the coast.

Put it to practice: Find a Lost Object

I’ll start by saying that this is as much art as science, and it’s a lot of science. It’s understanding basic geology and physics, then combining that with practical knowledge of human behavior! In addition to knowing how the weight, size, and shape of an object combined with the coarseness of the sand will impact how deep an object can go, the longshore drift can determine the position along the coastline.

1) Know your beach. You can use data from agencies like NOAA (see this handy PDF) to determine the prevailing wind direction for your area. Personal experience and observation if done in a methodical way can help too.

2) Understand your target. The basic questions you should know the answer to include: Where was the item lost initially? How long ago was it lost? What are the weight, shape, and metal type of the object? What weather or other factors have occurred in this location during the time since it was lost?

3) Remember you’re dealing with humans! People have inaccurate memories when it comes to their position in the water or on the beach. They may give you a spot on a building they remember seeing, or a general area between two lifeguard towers.

They also may not know their lost object as well as they think. When someone says “gold ring” or “silver bracelet,” they may be incorrect. Is the object simply silver in color? Is it actually stainless steel, pewter, silver plated?

Example

If someone lost a lightweight silver ring with a stone setting in the water at the shoreline two months ago, where should you begin your search for it?

Most people use a grid method to methodically search an area – that’s great once you know where the likely area should be! First, you need to know in what direction the item may have moved over time. Did any strong storms impact the area in the time between losing the item and now? What has been the prevailing wind direction in the past two months?

The better you know the area, the easier it will be for you to know the factors impacting that beach. In this example, you might start by creating a grid in the general area where the person said they lost the ring, and track first in the direction of the longshore current that has been in place for the time since the item was lost.

The prevailing wind direction can vary by season, or by the environment you’re in. Using Miami as an example, the prevailing wind direction in the summer months is from the East/Southeast. However, the longshore drift is generally south over a long period of time!

So most Florida detectorists might say, “lost items on Florida beaches move south.” That can be generally true, given enough time for the object to become subject to longshore drift, but for objects lost more recently, the direction may be north!

I hope this has helped you to understand longshore drift and current. Does your local beach have a clear direction? Many beaches have problems with erosion for this reason and go through renourishment projects.

What is your beach like? Leave me a comment below!

Resources

Beaches
Learn more about Waves, Beaches, and Coastal Erosion reprinted from “Natural Hazards and Disasters” by Donald Hyndman and David Hyndman.

Wind
A great tool for wind data and forecasts from Windfinder.

Renourishment Projects
As an example, read Miami-Dade County’s Beach Erosion Control Master Plan

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