I had just gotten off work on Monday afternoon and was heading out to go on a pleasure hunt when I got a call from a pleasant young man who had lost his Sprint “smart phone” on a local beach near my home. (Apparently their not making them “smart” enough to keep from getting lost). The owner (who was from San Francisco 1-1/2 hours away) had lost the phone the previous day. He had already driven back that day and tried his hand at locating the phone with a rake but had no luck and that’s when he called me. He informed me at that time that the phone was not nearly as important than what he had in it ! He had a new arrival at home ( a new puppy !) and he had all of his pictures on the device. The pleasure hunt was off as I had a new target in my sights now. I had the perfect setup all ready to go back at my house so I stopped back by and grabbed my MXT 300 with my 300mm (12″) coil and headed straight down to the area. It was an incredibly beautiful summer day here in Santa Cruz with a pumping South swell so the 10 minute hike through the dry sand was a treasure in itself. Mark had given me some good points of reference over the phone so once I got in the area and located some of his left over rake marks I was on the “scent”. Even though this was a large target I was using the same tactics I use for any recovery and was digging everything but obvious small iron bits. Trash and other target signals can do bad things to good signals. “Target masking” must always be considered when searching for a known valuable so a thorough “dig everything” approach is mandatory . . even for a large target. Assume nothing, dig everything . . . discipline is essential. 45 minutes into the search ( and a good 10’+ from where he was “certain” it was dropped) I was really beginning to think the phone had been found already when I caught a hint of a large object with the edge of the coil. After sizing it up I carefully wiped away at the sand until just the very top corner of the phone was poking out about 4-6″ down in the sand . . on edge. It looked to still be in great condition but the bottom of the phone was just starting to reach the damp sand when I dug it out. We were due to get a very high 6’+ high tide later that evening so there’s a good chance the phone would have been drowned without a prompt recovery. I called Mark with the good news and offered to ship the phone to him (and save him yet another long drive but he was anxious to get his precious pictures back asap. He came by the next evening to pick up his phone and I gave him the painfully obvious suggestion of “backing up” his pictures next time before this happens again . . .he agreed with a big smile.