Lost iPhone X, Found. Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

  • from Perth (Australia)

Every year in March a bunch of nutters contest the Perth to Rottnest Island swim, a 2o km swim from the mainland through sharky waters to the pub in Thomson Bay, Rottnest Island. On the day of the swim I’d heard that several groups of swimmers in this years race were plucked from the water by safety vessels due to shark sightings. In fact I thought that the race had been abandoned as a result.

Georgia had been on the island to support one of these swimmer/nutters and informed me that the race had continued for most contestants. During the celebrations on the beach in front of the pub later that night, she had lost her $1800 iPhone 10 somewhere in the sands of the beach. Besides the replacement cost Georgia is a photographer and the phone was full of irreplaceable photo’s including baby photo’s she’d recently taken for a client.

She had tried searching in the sand for it most of the next day but when unsuccessful and knowing she must get on a ferry before long decided to report the loss to the Rottnest Island Police. Due to the many expensive items I’ve recovered and reported as found to them they were able to tell her about my service and gave her my number. She had to borrow a phone to call me of course so our first phone call was only long enough for me to realise how distraught she was and time for me to reasure her that I could help! I would have to wait a little longer before getting the full story.

Later I found out that the phone was still turned on and was giving a GPS location. That was a good start. I got Georgia to book me a ticket for the first ferry the next day and set about getting ready for an early start.

One of my searches at Rottnest involved a 10 km bike ride muliple times with a dive tank strapped under the handlebars! Luckily there was no need for a bike this time as the pub is only 300 m from the islands main jetty. After the rather bumpy ferry trip I walked down to the Pub and tried to call Georgia to get the exact GPS coordinates from her but found that I had little to no reception. I decided to make a start searching the beach where Georgia had described and where I believed the location was.

After an hour and no joy I was able to speak to Georgia and get her to email me the coordinates. Well do you think I could get an internet connection for 30 seconds? Not today! Eventually I was lucky to be offered the use of the hotels network (Thanks a bunch Sandy) and soon had the coordinates. Next problem… looking at the map and coordinates I thought mmm now thats right there under that massive tree overhanging the pub and a good portion of the beach in front of it. Last I recall GPS doesnt work too flash under trees and it must be damn difficult to “see” any satelites from under the sand!

Normally, with a clear view of the sky, GPS can be accurate to aroud 2-3 m but not under a 150 year old gum tree! l put the coordinates into my handheld GPS and as I suspected the accuracy was about 10 – 20 m from where the phone was saying it was which was likely even more inaccurate given that its buried in the sand! Unfortunately this strategy for finding the phone didn’t end up being very useful at all. I decided I would have to mark off half the beach and detect my way through it methodically.

That leads me to the next problem.. Oh my god this beach is man made! Well it might as well be given the amount of metal trash in it from event after event over the years.

It was like a shipwreck site with metal everywhere. This required some thought on the right settings to use as it was impossible to swing my detector anywhere without getting “car bonnet signals”! This was one of those searches that you really hope you start in the right corner and luckily for me I did… about 20 mins (and 200 pieces of junk) into the search my fingers felt the unmistakeable shape of a phone in the sand and I knew I’d succeeded!

Georgia was ‘over the moon’ when I delivered the great news on the phone and again, as can be seen in the photo above when I delivered her phone.

I never get sick of reactions like that and its why I truley love what I do…



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