Maurice had brought his family out to Western Australia for the trip of a lifetime and had been having just that when tradgedy had struck.
Just a few days before leaving Australia the family had gone to the beach at Bunker Bay in the beautiful South West of Western Australia. Maurice had set himself up close to the waters edge with an easel and canvas to paint the picture perfect bay. His wife and daughter were playing in the ocean throwing a soft sponge ball between them, side on to the shore. As his wife had dived sideways to catch the ball her nanas engagement ring along with her wedding ring and a two tone gold band had shot off her finger towards the open sea.
They had all been looking for the rings in the water when local lifegaurds approached to tell them to get out of the water due to the two large bronze whaler sharks which had just been sighted from the rescue helicopter entering the bay. As the two sharks proceeded to cruise the shoreline about 15m out, Maurice had told the lifegaurds of their distress. Luckily one of the lifegaurds had witnessed me find a German mans lost platinum wedding ring (only about 25m from where Maurices wife had lost hers) right in front of him the year before and he’d taken some of my business cards at the time so was able to give them one and recommend that they give me a call.
As I heard the loss story I was already googling the weather and tides for the area. I determined the weather and tides would be suitable for
Scene of the crime!
a sea search in a few days. They would be unable to meet me there due to their holiday itinerary taking them much further south to Albany so it appeared I would be flying solo on this search.
Two days later I packed up the ute with equipment, told the dog we were going for a long drive and may be camping to which he wagged his tail in approval.
3 hrs later we arrived and although I had directions as to where in the water the three rings had been lost, I queried the lifegaurds to cross reference and hopefully narrow down the search area. They pointed to the exact same area! I then spent about 4 hrs in the water that day finding a few fresh sinkers and very little else.
Studying the beach whilst I was doing this I realised the beach had just entered a beach errosion state where sand is stripped from the foreshore and then is typically deposited about 5-10 metres out in the ocean, quickly burying anything lost there in sand, sometimes as much as 1-3 feet of sand in just a few hours at times. I was really worried this had happened as it could make the rings impossible to detect. Also the location given by Maurice and the lifegaurds was almost identical and if they were correct, it was right in the middle of one of the scallops developing on the adjacent shoreline. A scallop forms where the sand has been eaten away from the beach, leaving a hump on either side and then another scalloped area.
The tide was well on its way in now so I quit for the day resolving to stay the night and try again on the low tide the following day.
This I did, searching the same area again with the same result.. two more sinkers! Unfortunately a storm was due overnight so I had to return to Perth and wait for better conditions. That didn’t occur for about a week but when it did off I went to have another go.
My dog thought this was a great idea of course, whereas I would have to admit my hopes were not high that the erosion state of the beach had reversed at all let alone enough to make detection of the rings possible. I was sure they had not had enough weather to have moved so upon arrival I set about searching the area for a third time. After a few hours with no joy and an incoming tide I decided to try a diving search just that little bit deeper than I had been searching so far and spent an hour and a half or so doing that, also with no joy. This was begining to feel a bit hopeless at this stage but never one to give up easily I resolved to pitch the a tent for the night and have one last try the next day.
Up bright and early I tried to muster some motivation and fight any negative thoughts which can be hard as you’re donning a cold wet wetsuit at 6am to look for something tiny in a big ocean that seems to not want to be found. Anyway some hours of searching later the “come on now time to pack it in side of my brain was arguing with my dogged determination to find it side when as I passed right in front of where
Maurice had been painting I heard a very weak, deep signal. I remember saying to my self “come on man this is the last one, then its time to head home with your tail between your legs!” Well I dug and I dug and I dug. Must have been 6-7 scoops before I finally heard a rattle in the botom of the scoop. Peering in, my heart nearly flipped as I saw a big diamond glinting back at me, I’d found it, the most sentimental and by far the most expensive of the three rings. Tucking it away safely I returned my dual fields coil to the hole I’d dug and bingo there was another signal in the hole! Another scoop and rattle rattle thats no2. Despite two of the rings being in the same hole and the fact that the
wedding ring should be within a few feet of the first two, no amount of extra careful detecting could find it and as it got too deep to continue I had to leave it be and return to Perth.
Maurice would be returning to Perth the next day and flying back to England the morning after so we arranged a place to meet. I never did meet Maurice’s wife as she had been just too upset about it all so I can only imagine the smile she wore after getting her nanas engagement ring and one of the two others back, but if Maurice’s was anything to go by she was going to be extremely happy!