Tim had lent his boat to his mates for a fishing trip out from Matauri Bay in Northland, New Zealand.
Tragically the boat went broadside and suffered a capsize as they were coming back in through the surf and was, shall we say, pummelled.
His gold wedding ring had been in a cupholder onboard and during the subsequent carnage in the waves, was lost.
Spin forward three months. Tim made contact with me and asked what the chances were… Matauri Bay? Ocean beach, with such a big head start? I wasn’t too optimistic – Until I heard that the guys in the boat had taken note of the approximate location which at least gave me some sort of start point, and I knew there would be other items lost such as fishing gear which would assist me in pinpointing the exact location. The time elapsed was still a real concern though, as we had had a couple of good storms including a 1 in 500yr monster that wrought destruction across the region – with seas to match, and Matauri has no significant shallow hard bedding layer for the ring to settle on.
I let him know the odds were less than great, but would have a look to gauge whether it was worth actively searching or adding it to my ‘cold-case’ book.
I met Tim onsite the following day, and recapped the events of the day with him.
Without having one of the guys actually involved in the capsize there, it was Chinese Whispers over the phone….describing a featureless beach.
You have to start somewhere, and I had already started working a grid when he arrived, initially focussing on locating any concentration of targets.
It was not to be, and an endless stream of light targets of bottle caps, aluminium can tabs and corroded foil told me the sand was now deep over the site. Winding the machine to “redline” gave a few very rusty jigheads from a long way down but they looked too old – and I can guarantee Tims boat wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last to get trashed here.
Despite this false start, I was confident that I could find the debris field – Given time.
Over the course of many 2 and 3am starts, the big tides are never sympathetic to normal business hours, I started to pick up a few lead sinkers. Then a small tackle box and a large knife, both really deep down… Tim confirmed it was his knife and I could finally put a pin in the map! The only problem was the depth of sand and the now common metal detectors carried by holidaymakers at the local motorcamp just 50m away…
More visits and many night starts made for some looong days at my regular job, although bits of fishing kit started to consistently surface. I needed to clear all the jigs, lead, hooks etc in order to be able to hear the ring which would likely be under all this ‘noise’.
The other morning saw another rainy 2am start to catch the big tides. I settled in on the mark and quickly started digging fishing gear right on the low water line, a pair of pliers, knife, hooks – This was promising, very promising as it was obvious some sand had been lost.
I stayed in that same spot, digging target after target…after target. The pouch was starting to slide off my hips I had so much fishing kit in it. But no ring, and after 4 hours, the tide was chasing me out. I knew that if I walked away now I might lose the chance for another few months, or even years. What started out as wet sand was now wading depth with gumboots long since filled with water! I carried on digging oh, so many, many irritating small sinkers as the first light of dawn grew in the sky, and the cutoff to call it off and head off to work drew closer.
Yet another 1oz weight, check the hole, another, check the hole….a soft tone, down deep. There it was again. A half dozen quick deep scoops lifted it out of the hole and a flash of yellow in the scoop.
Tim was on holiday when I sent him the TXT and photo of the finds, asking why he uses solid gold fishing weights!
Two weeks later, this afternoon and after six months apart, the ring finally made its way home.
Three months head start, and another three to locate it – Ringfinding is definitely not for the impatient