Find Lost Key Tag | The Ring Finders

Coopers Beach Lost Key While Swimming

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

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I was at work when Heather phoned.
She had been swimming at Coopers Beach and when caught by a rogue wave, her expensive-to-replace chipped car key slipped from inside her costume.
I made a quick call to my boss to check he was okay with me disappearing for half the day (again!), and after a few hasty discussions with others arranging cover while I was away, I was on the road.
Unfortunately, I work about halfway between home and Coopers Beach, so had a half hour drive each way to get the gear before continuing north to the site.

I arrived just before low tide to see Heather and her mother doing ‘The Walk’ that I have seen many times. Heads down, wandering aimlessly whilst staring intently at the sand. Occassionally scuffing their feet at something that could be a key, but disappointingly turning out to be a black pebble or bit of shell.

Thankfully, Heather had a video of where they had been swimming, showing a distinctive clump of seaweed and a pattern of shells in the foreground. From this I was able to define a reasonably tight arc that the key might be in but people often drift to one side or another. The distribution of seaweed along the beach showed me which way the current was running so I marked the likely maximum up-current limit and would work downcurrent. It was now just a matter of passing the coil over the key. Miss it by 2 inches and I could walk straight past it.
Recoveries take a huge amount of self-discipline. The hardest are when they stretch into the night, the rain begins to fall and the hours continue to slide past…and that’s just on land.
But today was calm, sunny and a beautiful location.

I set up a grid on the wet sand at the edge of the water as I waited for the tide to drop.
I was digging the odd coin, bottle cap or ancient copper boat nail. You must verify every target in this game, a trashy area will sometimes have you checking over a hundred potentials.
The beach here was away from the popular areas so thankfully relatively devoid of false targets.
Dry land completed, I started to move out into the water.

About thigh deep, just deep enough to get inconveniently soaked by waves, I picked up a solid iron tone under the loose sand and shell.
The key was about 10cm down in this very mobile, almost fluid, shell mix and it took a couple of bites with the scoop to lift it out of the hole. I held it up to Heather with a big grin, and waded ashore.

…Then headed back to work to catch up.