Thirteen months is a long time! But for Greenfield, WI resident, Steven Mantsch, the agony of losing a highly sentimental ring in the waters of Tichigan Lake near Waterford those many months ago was still very fresh. The one-of-a-kind ring was hand made by his brother from an old silver dollar. Steven described how the coin’s stamping was still visible in places; United States of America… Now the ring lay somewhere in the deep mud amongst aquatic plants by a public boat dock. It happened like this.
Returning from a boating excursion, Steven stepped out of the boat onto the dock and brushed back his hair with a wave of his hand. As he did so, the precious ring slipped off his finger, bounced off the dock, hit a boat moored in the next bay and ricocheted into the water. Steven, along with friends in the area, tried unsuccessfully to extract the ring from the mud using nets and scoops. But the mud, some twelve to twenty inches deep, had swallowed the heavy ring, making even metal-detection challenging. To make matters worse, an aquatic plant harvesting machine later had been at work in the same area, stirring up the lake bottom. The ring certainly seemed lost forever.
Steven called me in response to seeing an advertisement on my car. It was a long shot, but would I consider trying to search for his ring? We arranged to meet on location, Saturday, July 31st. Beginning at 9:00 a.m., I entered the water and immediately sank into the mud. The suction constantly threatened to remove my shoes, making navigation a huge challenge. Aquatic plants wrapped around my coil making it almost impossible to “sweep” in the usual way.
Then there were the relics of bygone years, beer cans from before the age of pull tabs; the lake bottom seemed alive with metal. After a couple hours, I knew it was time to change tactics. I discarded my trusty Minelab Excalibur Detector and using a hand-held probe that vibrates in response to metallic presence, I began to systematically poke the mud, reaching down with my fingers and retrieving the targets. It was painstaking work, but finally, after 2 more hours of probing and feeling in the mud and weeds, I felt Steven’s precious ring and pulled it up to the surface! The silver was blackened after being in the water so long, but I quickly spotted its unmistakable lettering, “United States of America…”
This search was a most-challenging and memorable one! The time and the conditions seemed to join forces in preventing Steven’s ring from ever being discovered. But in the end, Steven’s perseverance coupled with technology, experience and patience, triumphed!
News of the find spread quickly around the public boat dock. Some of the same boaters and neighbors were present when Steven lost his ring over a year ago. It was a magic moment for sure. As for Steven, a glimmer of tears betrayed his joy and relief!
If you or a loved one has lost a ring, even a long time ago, chances are the ring is still there. Don’t give up hope. Steven didn’t.