Garrett Guide to Beach Hunting – Where to Search

Well, here you are, on the beach at last, proper detector in hand and dressed for any kind of weather. You’re equipped with a selection of digging tools, and you have the pouches and pockets to store that treasure you expect to find.

So, what next?

When you walk out onto a beach, where do you begin? How do you select the most productive areas? This is possibly the question I am asked most frequently by beginning beach hunters (and, more experienced ones as well). The answer, first of all, is that nobody should go pell-mell onto a beach and begin scanning here and there without a plan. This is truly for beginners. There is a right way and a wrong way to search for treasure. As I have stated so often in my books, “Start fight and be successful!”

You must begin by being in the right place at the right time. The following discussion of research will suggest sources that will lead you to productive sights. This Guide will also suggest how you can take advantage of tides and weather to put you there at the right time.

The dedicated treasure hunter always first answers the question of “Where?” With research. Beyond that, experience must be the teacher. Inquiring and attentive hobbyists continually pick up ideas from other more veteran beachcombers, but the final decisions must be based on individual perceptions and intuition. Experience alone will educate the beach hunter about places that never produce and other places that are often rewarding. A knowledge of storm, wind and wave action will often rescue someone studying a new beach. Later, I’ll relate how this helped me.

My books and those of other treasure hunters list numerous research sources where both general and specific leads can be found for searching beaches with a metal detector. As the hobbyist researches these various sources, techniques and abilities will improve. That’s why I urge anyone to apply himself of herself to beach hunting for at least a full year before attempting to judge this aspect of treasure hunting. And, when you seek to carry out research, I implore you not to be haphazard or sloppy. Be diligent and methodical; your progress and success will be amazing.

Always begin locally; your home territory is the area you know best. Use every source of leads and information; seek out old timers; visit or write chambers of commerce and tourist bureaus. Don’t forget to contact historical societies; leave no source untouched in your investigation of an area. To speed up work always be specific. Ask about information concerning both past and current swimming beaches, resorts and recreational areas. Throughout history, certainly that of this country, swimming has always been a popular activity. Don’t overlook the favorite beaches of years gone by, either. Also, ghost towns are not limited to mountainous areas; they can be found on beaches as well. Treasures from the past are always found in and around them.

When checking newspapers, pay particular attention to accident reports that will usually give the location or at least the name of a particular beach. Review old newspapers; be especially alert for the Sunday weekend or recreation columns that proclaim the holiday joys of swimming and sunbathing at local beaches. Advertisements of beachwear occasionally offer clues to areas of activity.

Don’t overlook old postcards; antique shops can be a good source. If there is a postcard collector in the area, pay him or her a visit. Old picture postcards can be reliable X-marks-the-spot waybills to treasure.

If you are not a member of your local or regional treasure club, consider joining. If no club exists, get together with other hobbyists and start one! While you can’t realistically expect to discover many secret “sweet spots” for finding treasure you can get to know others who share your interest and enthusiasm. I can assure you that swapping treasure tales and techniques broadens everyone’s knowledge, sharpen skills and increases success rates of members. It always helps me!

Don’t be content to work only local beaches. Broaden your scope; it may pay rewards. For example, if you live in northern California, make a study of the history of the San Francisco Bay area. Many ships have gone down there, losing valuable cargo’s of silver and gold, much of which has not been found. Violent storms often churn up ocean bottoms and cast sunken treasure on the beach. Other estuaries and harbors may not yield the precious metals of the Golden Gate, but historical study of any coastal area can often reveal locations for profitable metal detecting.

Never overlook the possibility of finding flotsam and jetsam washing ashore from offshore shipwrecks. Regardless of the age of a wreck, some cargo-especially gold, silver, copper and bronze objects-will probably remain in fair to excellent condition for years, decades or even centuries. Gulf coast and Caribbean shipwreck locations still yield silver and gold from the mines of Mexico and Peru. Gold and silver from California and other western states can be found along the Pacific coast.

When researching reports of shipwrecks, don’t overlook Coast Guard and Life Saving Service records. Newspaper files and local and state histories are good sources of information. Insurance companies and Lloyd’s Register may provide precisely the data you need.

Assategue Island, off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, has proven to be the depository of much cargo from shipwrecks of yesteryear. Treasure hunters, scanning the beaches with their metal detectors, have found valuable coins and relics, some of which “marked” the location of larger treasures. Although much of the island is controlled by the National Seashore Service, portions are open to the public. Permission to search with you metal detector can sometimes be obtained on National Seashores; it never hurts to request permission.

Stay alert to current weather conditions. You’ll want to search at low tides-the lower the better. After storms come ashore, head for the beach. When oil spills deposit tar and oil on beaches, there’s a good possibility bulldozer and other equipment used to remove it can get you much closer to treasure. Watch for beach development work. When pipelines are being laid and when seawalls, breakwaters and piers are being constructed, work these areas of excavation.

I hope these examples of potentially productive areas offer ideas that will encourage you to expand your territory. Treasure hunters often travel thousand of miles in their quest for treasure. You can do likewise, especially if there is a pot of gold (or escudos) at the end of your journey. But, I must stress that considerable local treasure is all around you-wherever you are located. I am positive of this because I know that lost or hidden treasure exist everywhere. Find what’s in your backyard first; then, hit the treasure trail!

  • March 2, 2009

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