Three weeks ago, Ray was on Tokerau Beach in Doubtless Bay engaging in that iconic Kiwi summer pursuit, digging in the sand for Tuatuas.
Regrettably, his sentimental gold and diamond ring did what so many other lost rings have also done while gathering these tasty shellfish, it slipped from his finger into the sand, and vanished.
A week later he left me a phone message asking if I was able to assist in finding his lost ring.
I arranged to meet him the coming weekend and see if I could get his ring back to him.
That’s when nature intervened with a double whammy in the form of Cyclone Cody pumping waves up to 5+m onto the coast.
Then one from left-field, the eruption of Hunga-Tonga (which I heard in New Zealand, some 2,400km away!) which sent tsunami surges out across the entire Pacific.
….I decided to reschedule the ring recovery for the following weekend!
There was real potential for substantial sand movement with these combined events, but my safety always comes first.
The appointed morning arrived and I thanked Ray for making the effort to meet me on site at dawn in order to catch the low tide. As he referred to photos taken on the day to sort out where he had been, I got kitted up to get wet.
I set up a ‘beat’ of around 60m width to try and allow for any positional errors in Rays recollection, and waded out into the break.
While the sea was calm for this surf beach, the storm had brought in tonnes of loose weed which instantly wrapped around the detector adding massive drag. It wasn’t practical to keep lifting the coil out of the water every few seconds to shake it off so I had to put up with it. It felt like I was mopping the ocean floor and had to change arms every few minutes.
Added entertainment was the water being infested by loads of Eagle Rays feeding on the Tuatuas in the turbid water. When I got too close, or accidentally clipped them with the coil, they would take off through the wash like jet fighters. I love these guys, but having to do the ‘Stingray Shuffle’ through the weed was really fatiguing…
I had completed about three or four sweeps across the search area when the detector sounded off on a faint target, there had been no trash for once, so in my mind this was going to be the ring.
The hole went deeper and deeper, only to reveal an old lead fishing weight! I shook a basketball sized lump of weed off the coil and continued on, disappointed.
15 minutes later, another quiet tone in the headphones could be heard over the waves and wind.
Quiet, but crisp.
The scoop went in, missed it, another bite went deep into the bottom of the hole – Check and the sand was quiet. Whatever it was was in the scoop.
I shook the sand and shell out through the scoop when I heard that familiar clatter of a ring.
I secured it and slogged ashore through the weed and rays.
The sequence of reactions, I have seen many times.
Initially resignation in their eyes as they saw me walking up the beach after apparently giving up, changing to disbelief when I removed the ring from inside my glove – then amazement that the ring had actually been found, and was back on Rays finger.
Some detectorists collect rings, I prefer to collect smiles 🙂