GeekyBeach Metal Detecting

GeekyBeach Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting & Lost Item Recovery

Tag: Minelab

Hillside Ring Recovery

I received a call on the evening of Jan. 3, 2023 from a man whose wedding ring fell off on his property – a steep hillside home. He had searched…

I received a call on the evening of Jan. 3, 2023 from a man whose wedding ring fell off on his property – a steep hillside home. He had searched for a while and was hoping a metal detector would make the job easier.

It was already dark, but with an enormous winter storm predicted for the following day, there was a bit of urgency to find it quickly before heavy rain could wash it farther down the hill. Though it would be dark and the hill already damp from prior rain, I decided to venture out equipped with headlamps and hope.

What happened?

He was unloading groceries from the trunk of his car when the ring flew off his hand and started rolling down the driveway. He managed to see it happen and watched the ring, figuring it would stop on the concrete. Nope! His ring apparently had a daredevil streak – it launched itself off the concrete over the side of the road and down the hill next to the home.

I brought my Minelab CTX3030 and Equinox 800 (Minelab Metal Detectors ). When I arrived, he had assistance from three other men who were exploring the slope. As a transplant only one year ago from flatter than flat parts of the country, I’m still new to and intimidated by hills. I offered to give a quick lesson on the lightweight Equinox since they were far more adept with the hillside than I would be.

I set up the Equinox properly for the situation and target, and gave one of the gentlemen a crash course: easy…listen for the bleep! Then off he went down the hill while I checked out another spot that was easier to access. Within about 10 minutes or so, I heard the happy words: “Found it!”

Mens wedding ring shown in the hand of its owner after recovery on hillside.

My box lantern illuminates the owner’s hand after his ring was recovered.

Because they had all been searching for probably a couple hours, this was a major relief and exciting moment. I was particularly happy that even though I didn’t find it myself, I was able to bring the joy and excitement of metal detecting to another person. And of course relief to the ring owner!

It was a smart move by the ring owner to call someone with the right tool, and the experience to set it up quickly and properly for the situation.

This goes for many parts of life – not just for metal detecting. We can often feel like trying to handle obstacles on our own either personally or professionally. The additional help along with a metal detector made the recovery happen much quicker. And in my case, handing off the detector to someone with better hill skills!

There is perhaps no better example than asking you to imagine the last time you tried to DIY something in your home and it wasn’t as simple as you thought. Plumbing quickly comes to mind for me. I’m sure we all have examples from our professional lives as well.

In this case and so many others, it’s worth calling on your fellow villagers for assistance!

Lose something special? Call a RingFinder! RingFinders is a global directory of metal detectorists just like me who can help you recover lost metal objects.

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What metal detector is used on oak island?

The History channel’s popular show The Curse of Oak Island has brought a lot of attention and interest to the hobby of metal detecting. In particular, we all love watching…

The History channel’s popular show The Curse of Oak Island has brought a lot of attention and interest to the hobby of metal detecting. In particular, we all love watching Gary Drayton use his metal detector on Oak Island to find interesting objects over several television seasons!

Satellite map view of Oak Island Nova Scotia

What metal detector is Gary Drayton using on Oak Island?

Most of the time, Gary is shown using a Minelab CTX-3030. There are a variety of coils available for the CTX-3030 though it comes equipped with an 11-inch coil. You can also get a 6-inch small coil, and a 17-inch coil which is larger and has an oval shape. You often see Gary using this size on the show. Be sure to visit Gary Drayton’s website to support his shop and learn how to detect!

It happens to be the same metal detector I use most of the time! (I wish I had access to Oak Island!) Pictured below along with my beach scoop, it’s helped me find hundreds of recoveries for others and keep the beaches clean. You can even order Gary Drayton’s book about using the CTX-3030, but the must-have book for any new owner is the Minelab CTX 3030 Handbook by Andy Sabisch.

I highly recommend grabbing both books for your collection if you are curious about metal detecting and using the CTX-3030. Please contact me if you would like help deciding which detector to purchase!


Minelab CTX-3030 on a beach with scoop for metal detecting

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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?


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!


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

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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