Michael called me on Monday afternoon. His wife Sarah was on a beach in the Sausalito marina, where she had just lost her wedding and engagement rings. We arranged for me to meet Sarah at the beach on Tuesday afternoon, just after high tide.
As you can see from the photos, the beach is not large. Sarah had placed her rings on her blanket to apply sunscreen, then picked up the blanket and followed her young son around the beach before noticing the rings were missing. We plotted out the search zones where the rings were most likely to have fallen: Zone 1 where she picked up the blanket, Zone 2 where she first carried it along the beach, Zone 3 where she threw the blanket over her shoulder and chased her son down to the water line, and finally Zone 4 where she followed him along the water, and shook out the blanket near the seawall.
I searched Zone 1 thoroughly, finding only coins and bottle caps. Rings tend to fall quickly, so this was the most likely place to find them. But after two passes from different directions, I knew they weren’t there. Same story in Zone 2: Two passes, no results.
It was starting to get dark, but I still did two passes on Zone 3, theorizing that Sarah had been running at this point, so the rings could have been flung to either side of her path. No joy.
By the time I got to the waterline, it was full night. The nearby lights gave more glare than anything else. The only good news was that since I started searching, the tide had dropped to the same level as when the rings were lost. Because of the salt water in the damp sand, my metal detector was giving me strange readings for common targets-iron was ringing as copper or brass. After 30 minutes searching Zone 4, I got a copper penny tone. Given the salt water effect, I assumed the target was going to be either a penny or a nail. But in fact it was neither, it was the wedding band, with diamonds all the way around and engraving on both sides. Beautiful!
It took another 20 minutes, but I found the matching engagement ring a couple of feet away. Success! The two rings made a beautiful set. They had both been underwater when I started searching, but the receding tied had left them in damp sand. The search had taken three hours, but it was worth it in the end.