On Boxing day, Tahiroa was enjoying a summer swim at Whangaumu Bay, near Whangarei when he lost his silver wedding band.
He messaged me to see if I would be able to help, “I’m getting some strife…”
Unable to meet me on site, he sent a Google Maps pinned location. Not ideal as it is always preferable to have the person there to give a start point but you have to take what you can get.
When you’re chasing an item that’s only 3/4 inch in diameter, the search area can get very large, very quickly.
On arriving for the initial search, I slalomed down the beach past the holidaymakers to the waters edge – Where there was the distinctly fresh scoop mark of a metal detectorist.
Just one scoop, and the location matched Tahiroas description of beach location
Had someone seen the commotion as Tahiroa tried to find his ring, or had he put it on social media and a less altruistic sort had ‘sniped’ it?
You always have to assume the ring is still there though – until a comprehensive and methodical search has been completed.
I headed out into the water…
Unable to carry out regular gridding patterns due to more people being in the water than on the beach, I relied on the GPS to keep track of coverage.
I would clear one area, then as a spot opened up in the water, I would relocate and work that, and so on.
The GPS track was messy, with multiple dense ‘blobs’ of scribble connected by zig-zag lines as I moved from spot to spot.
Snorkelling children were becoming a nuisance. Every time the scoop went in they would dive down to try and grab whatever was coming out !
The repeated requests to keep clear had no effect, then I hit on the concept of camoflage.
I would dig a ‘dummy’ scoop next to the target, but rather than clear the scoop near the bottom – I lifted it right up to the surface for a good shaking…
The cloud of sand and silt spread all around me, reducing visibility to nil. As I operate on sound, I could safely retrieve the targets while the opposition were temporarily blinded..
The snorkelling terrors quickly lost interest and drifted away.
After four hours, and a no-show, I messaged Tahiroa the news and suggested that it might have already been found.
The next day, I made the two-hour drive again – I hate walking away from a no-find and I always need to prove to myself that it’s not there.
The approximated Google Maps pin meant I had to extend out along the beach, beyond the indicated area already searched.
At 6am, other than a few dog walkers, the beach was deserted and I could run my search lines without interruption.
Picking up from where I left off, I cleared a few ‘weak spots’ in the GPS track and then started nice long, straight lines.
I gradually extended the search area out…and the beach started to fill with people.
After a an hour or so I got a bright tone at the edge of the drop off.
As I lifted the scoop I heard the jangle of a ring – Gottit!
Back at the car, I could relax, and messaged Tahiroa the good news that his ring was now safe and secure.
It was about four weeks before we could both be in the same place at the same time, and yesterday I was pleased to finally be able to hand Tahiroas ring back to him.