Northland Tag | The Ring Finders

Wedding Ring Lost When Boat Capsized in Surf – Found!

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

Tim had lent his boat to his mates for a fishing trip out from Matauri Bay in Northland, New Zealand.

Tragically the boat went broadside and suffered a capsize as they were coming back in through the surf and was, shall we say, pummelled.
His gold wedding ring had been in a cupholder onboard and during the subsequent carnage in the waves, was lost.

Spin forward three months.  Tim made contact with me and asked what the chances were… Matauri Bay? Ocean beach, with such a big head start? I wasn’t too optimistic – Until I heard that the guys in the boat had taken note of the approximate location which at least gave me some sort of start point, and I knew there would be other items lost such as fishing gear which would assist me in pinpointing the exact location. The time elapsed was still a real concern though, as we had had a couple of good storms including a 1 in 500yr monster that wrought destruction across the region – with seas to match, and Matauri has no significant shallow hard bedding layer for the ring to settle on.
I let him know the odds were less than great, but would have a look to gauge whether it was worth actively searching or adding it to my ‘cold-case’ book.

I met Tim onsite the following day, and recapped the events of the day with him.

Without having one of the guys actually involved in the capsize there, it was Chinese Whispers over the phone….describing a featureless beach.
You have to start somewhere, and I had already started working a grid when he arrived, initially focussing on locating any concentration of targets.
It was not to be, and an endless stream of light targets of bottle caps, aluminium can tabs and corroded foil told me the sand was now deep over the site. Winding the machine to “redline” gave a few very rusty jigheads from a long way down but they looked too old – and I can guarantee Tims boat wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last to get trashed here.

Despite this false start, I was confident that I could find the debris field – Given time.
Over the course of many 2 and 3am starts, the big tides are never sympathetic to normal business hours, I started to pick up a few lead sinkers. Then a small tackle box and a large knife, both really deep down… Tim confirmed it was his knife and I could finally put a pin in the map! The only problem was the depth of sand and the now common metal detectors carried by holidaymakers at the local motorcamp just 50m away…

More visits and many night starts made for some looong days at my regular job, although bits of fishing kit started to consistently surface. I needed to clear all the jigs, lead, hooks etc in order to be able to hear the ring which would likely be under all this ‘noise’.

The other morning saw another rainy 2am start to catch the big tides. I settled in on the mark and quickly started digging fishing gear right on the low water line, a pair of pliers, knife, hooks – This was promising, very promising as it was obvious some sand had been lost.
I stayed in that same spot, digging target after target…after target. The pouch was starting to slide off my hips I had so much fishing kit in it. But no ring, and after 4 hours, the tide was chasing me out. I knew that if I walked away now I might lose the chance for another few months, or even years. What started out as wet sand was now wading depth with gumboots long since filled with water! I carried on digging oh, so many, many irritating small sinkers as the first light of dawn grew in the sky, and the cutoff to call it off and head off to work drew closer.

Yet another 1oz weight, check the hole, another, check the hole….a soft tone, down deep. There it was again. A half dozen quick deep scoops lifted it out of the hole and a flash of yellow in the scoop.

Tim was on holiday when I sent him the TXT and photo of the finds, asking why he uses solid gold fishing weights!
Two weeks later, this afternoon and after six months apart, the ring finally made its way home.

Three months head start, and another three to locate it – Ringfinding is definitely not for the impatient

Lost Phone Found Buried in Sawdust Pile – Kerikeri, Northland.

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

Lost rings in summer, phones in winter…

Had a call from Greg this evening, asking if I would be able to find his lost cellphone.

Backstory was he’d been working in a firewood yard today shifting logs to be split and last remembered seeing his phone a few hours previously. It was now going straight to answerphone so ringing it was ineffective.
We went through retracing his steps and narrowed it down to a corridor of sawdust and chippings in amongst the logs, maybe 5m wide by 20m long. A 12 tonne digger was sitting on the principle area of interest, so I first scanned the area behind it so he could walk the digger (and it’s enormous metal presence) backwards. As expected in an industrial environment, there were a lot of junk signals messing around in the headphones, with one promising false start that turned out to be a flattened drink can.

Once the digger had been moved, I then started to clear the area where it had been and very quickly picked up a solid ‘phoney’ sort of signal.

Digging down into the sawdust, I gingerly grabbed a very hot, angry and unstable iPhone, crushed by the digger unfortunately and the battery was starting to meltdown, but his precious SIM card was safely recovered – Not to mention averting possible fire issues had the phone ignited later in the evening whilst buried in sawdust…

            Not Rated to 12 Tonnes!

 

 

Kerikeri Phone Lost in Long Grass – Found!

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

Yesterday, Seans young son was doing some TikTok clips with his friend.

For what ever reason, the phone was flung away to the side – and into the deep mattress of overgrown Kikuyu grass around them.  Efforts by Sean and his son to find the phone failed to locate the phone visually (flat battery, so no ringtones) and so Sean turned to the internet for assistance to try and recover the lost phone.

It was a reasonably straightforward job,  with no interference from electric fences which are very common in this rural area. With a systematic approach, and based on experience with recovering ‘thrown’ items, the phone was quickly located outside the indicated area, as they so often are.

It was a sheepish, but relieved lad who got called over to collect his phone out of the grass.

White Gold and Diamond Ring Found at Kai Iwi Lakes

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

Sam and his wife were spending some time at the beautiful Kai Iwi lakes in the Far North of New Zealand.

His wife had waded out to the edge of the drop off for a swim, and when she returned to the car, realised the ring was missing.

Sam met me on site, and we discussed areas, marking out the search limits and I waded out with the marker floats.

I had just dropped the second float when the ring, an absolute stunner by the way, made itself known just in front of me!

One of the fastest recoveries yet, and inside the initial search area for once …Just.

Diamond and Gold Ring Lost While Swimming at Paihia – Found!

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

Diana was visiting the Bay of Islands for Waitangi Day, and decided to go for a dip to cool off after the drive up.

Sadly, the cold water shrunk her fingers and the ring flew off as her arm came over on the first stroke when she started her swim.   Fortunately her friend was there and made a note of roughly where she was, and current state of the tide.  She contacted me the following day to see if I was able to help.

It appeared to be a relatively easy recovery. I was given a start point and direction the ring was thought to have gone. After 5 hours and covering almost quarter of square kilometre of quiet bay to 98% confidence, including just over 3kg of fishing weights, I decided it wasn’t there.

Falling back to my mantra of “Assume Nothing, Believe No-one, Confirm Everything” I wiped the slate and worked on basis that the only 100% definite was I knew where she had entered the water, and that was the last time she knew she had the ring on.

Very shortly after, I reached down under the coil in the knee-deep shallows and felt the ring sitting under a clump of seaweed on the surface of the rock. Three of the largest diamonds I’ve seen sparkled brightly as they broke the surface of the muddy water.  Job Done.

I would have liked to deliver it in person, but had to settle with giving it a clean and polish, a bit of gift wrapping, and sending it back by courier.

It’s now back on her finger, hopefully for good  🙂

 

Treasured Gold Ring Lost at Russell, Found by Metal Detectorist

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

I had just got home from a recreational detecting session when I received the call for a lost gold wedding ring at Russell in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

All the gear was still in the car so a quick battery swap and on my way.

I arrived at the scene an hour later and Nathan and his wife took me through the scenario.
Nathan had been in chest deep water at the local beach when he took the ring off his finger, I believe, to check the looseness of his new wedding ring.
Whatever the reason, fate intervened, the fingers slipped and the ring sank to the seafloor and into the sand.
Fortunately he had presence to mind to stay put and several nearby swimmers and snorkellers all had a go at retrieving it, although as we Ringfinders know all too well, rings are rather adept at quickly burrowing into the sand with any disturbance.

Shortly after, we were joined by Paul (forgive me if I have forgotten your name) who I award the title of Honorary Ringfinder.

Paul had made a mental note at the time of the initial attempts of a couple of landmarks which would help relocate the Point Last Seen. He was also game to snorkel out to find the depression in the sand from the earlier efforts and drop my marker float. This quick thinking and assistance greatly boosted the odds, and I thank him.

The tide by now was far too high to hunt without SCUBA, so I eliminated the shallows “Believe no-one, Assume Nothing, Confirm Everything” then settled in for a wait as the tide dropped.

I passed the time deflecting curious swimmers, and one jet ski, all of whom seemed intent on moving my critical marker float. Drawn to it like moths to a flame… although it was rather amusing watching the behaviours change as they spotted the marker bobbing around and changed course directly for it, only to be intercepted by a concerned RingFinder rushing into the tide to explain what it was, and to please leave it there….!

After a couple of hours, the water was just under nostril height and I could get out to the Search Area. I found the depression and was concerned by the depth of the crater formed by a well-meaning snorkeller and feared they may have disturbed the bottom enough to allow the ring to settle deep into the gravels. I checked the hole with no results so started a systematic search pattern. I would return to the crater if the ring wasn’t located.

After a few grids, there was a bright tone, I’d heard many of these today which had all turned out to be pulltabs from drink cans, but on a ring recovery you have to dig every target.

On the third bite with the scoop I shook the sand and gravel out and was left with a handful of shells – and a ring. I held it up to show Paul, who responded from the beach with a celebratory cheer.

About an hour later I managed to catch up with Nathan and Anita in Paihia for an emotional reunion.

The ring had belonged to Nathans Grandfather who never took it off following his wedding day. Nathan was continuing the tradition, and I am honoured to be able to reverse what they thought was an irretrievable loss and ensure the story of his ring can continue.

How to Find Lost Keys – Hire a Metal Detector.

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626
A rather desperate Glenn phoned me at work yesterday afternoon – The jeans he was wearing when he went out to price a job had a previously undiscovered hole in the back pocket.
He parked his BMW, dropped the keys in his pocket and set to work.
His heart sank when he headed back to the car and realised his predicament.
There were a few catches to this tale; He needed the car to operate his business, The section was derelict and overgrown with waist high weeds, metallic scrap from renovations littered the site (along with domestic detritus from the previous habitation), said property was a solid 2 hour drive away – a smidge under 100miles(!) … and they were lost four weeks ago.
The one redeeming point was the fact that the keys were ‘safe’, albeit lost. They were tucked in the weeds somewhere and not going anywhere.
Mind you, neither was Glenn without them.
I managed to wrangle the next morning off work and headed south at 3am, I needed to be back at the desk at noon so made sure I was on site and ready to go at first light.
Using photos Glenn had taken of the property for his quote, I had several good known points and was able to determine his aged tracks between them.
The actual task of getting the coil close enough to the ground was impossible with the matted thatch of grass and thistles that had grown noticeably in the warm early summer weather.  I would be fibbing if I said I didn’t regret taking this one on when I saw the state of the undergrowth, especially with only a few precious hours available and a revisit out of the question.

First of all, I simply walked his exact path without the detector in order to define the known route and avoid confusion with other peoples tracks and the disturbance later when vegetation had been swept around by the coil.  The exact stops where he took the photos were dotted with fluorescent spray paint. These would become focus points where body position changed (turning, crouching etc). Likewise, places where he walked downhill were likely a higher probability as the material on the back pockets is more relaxed and mobile than when stretched going uphill.
I verified with Glenn by phone whether the keys were in left or right pocket. Since he walked clockwise around the property it weighted the search to that side of the tracks, slightly.
Out with the detector.  I started with a fast pass along the entire route. The endless hits on old buckles, tarpaulin grommets, roofing iron offcuts, toy cars and bits of galvanised tin was soul-destroying but each target had to be verified.
Second pass was a wider sweep, nudging slightly further into the weeds either side, although it was so dense the coil wasn’t making any headway.
I switched to a much smaller coil but while it was more efficient at getting into the grass, it became quickly apparent that with the lesser footprint I wouldn’t be able to clear the area before running out of time.
Final plan was to physically break down the thistles and flatten the grass as much as I could, then use my ‘dustbin lid’ big coil with its larger detection area and greater depth capabilites.
Three hours after starting, I got a reasonable high tone, out with the pinpointer and rummaged it through the long grass.
Parting the stalks showed a key, several keys!
Not sure who was more relieved, me or Glenn when he got the photo of the now found keys.

Lost Gold Earring in Northland Garden – Found!

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

At the start of the year, Renene was clearing undergrowth on their rural Northland property. Later on she realised that one of the many branches around the head had somehow spirited away her sentimental earring.
As so many people who lose rings or bracelets do, after a fruitless search for the lost earring they conceded defeat and accepted the loss… Until she started searching online for a metal detector to try and find her special missing gold.

We spent a few minutes on site going over her recollection of how she and her husband tried to find the lost earring, where they thought it would be, and the infamous spot ‘X’ was marked as a start point.

The vegetation was very tight, and a layer of past weedings and prunings covered most of any remaining exposed soil. I nearly took the headphones off to run on speaker the entanglements were so bad, however for such a small piece in a sea of background chatter I needed every subtle tone… I quickly cleared the ‘easy’ bits around the site, and headed out to change to a smaller coil to get in under all the shrubs when I got a new bit of intel – the path they usually took in and out.

Back onto the standard coil, and I started to grid the higher probability area of their entry/exit track.
To one side was a pile of branches which I worked hard up against, intending to leave it for a later, more detailed pass if it wasn’t found in the early searching. But since I was there, I’d clear them and close off this area now.
Heaved the pile up and swept the coil underneath, a faint whisper made my ears perk up. I put the detector down and shifted the pile.

A second pass and there was a distinct but subtle tone. Out with the pinpointer and just under the surface, on it’s edge, was the lost earring already making itself very comfortable for a long stay.

I made my way out and beckoned to Renene to come over to see her newly found earring lying where it had fallen some 10 months ago.

She was a bit pleased!

 

 

Ring Lost Swimming at Kai Iwi Lakes – Found!

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

Got a message from Geoffrey that he’d lost his wedding ring while swimming at Kai Iwi lakes, near Dargaville, in the north of New Zealand. While this was out of my regular area, there was definite urgency as the lakes are heavily patrolled by holidaying metal detectorists at this time of year. So coffee in hand, I lurched out the door the following morning at 4:30am for the two and a bit hour drive across to the other coast to meet them when the gates opened at 7.

Kai Iwi lakes are real gems, classified as perched dune lakes, these unique features have warm, gin clear water with no organic tint on a white silica sand base, definitely one of the more pleasant places to hunt. Certainly worth a visit if in the North of New Zealand.

Geoffrey, really nice chap, had called in a sick day for work and was settling in for a long stressful day of waiting. We discussed how it had been lost – that old, old story of sunblock and cold water, along with his movements in and out of the water.  He waded out with me so I could get him to visually line up some reference marks he remembered at the time of loss.

Based on his recollection of “looking at that yellow boat”, and “That hill over there” coupled with “I was about this deep…About here”…I dropped the PLS (Point Last Seen) marker float.

Originally I had planned in my head to use the spiral search pattern, although went with a linear search as the water was so clear I could save the hassle of an extra line and see the scoop drag marks on the bottom.
Switching on, I started the first line running out to deeper water, before turning and coming back in towards the beach, this alignment allowed me to use some very easy markers both on land and out in the lake to ensure a good coverage. I had just turned and started the second run when I heard what I wanted.

I gently shaved the surface of the sand off with the scoop and as I lifted it I could hear the ring bouncing around in there. I got Geoffreys attention, then held the scoop up with a big smile and gave it a jiggle. His eyes lit up in disbelief when he heard the rattle.

I held the ring out to him as he waded over, his grin getting progressively bigger and the “No Way!” comments getting louder as he got closer, I suggested there was maybe still time for him to get to work after all  🙂

Metal Detector Finds Lost Wedding Ring in Sea at Paihia

from Paihia (New Zealand)
Contact: 021 401 626

John had lost his white gold wedding ring in the sea a few days before I heard of it.
At this time of year, the popular tourist beach concerned is heavily patrolled by holiday detectorists, so time was of the essence – more so as the detailed location had unfortunately been posted on Facebook.
Even though I was in the throes of a major lung infection (Thanks very much, Santa!) I had to try and recover this one as soon as possible.

I met John on the beach in the evening, he indicated the highest probability area before settling down on the sand to watch, and I set to work.

First priority was to clear the heavily trafficked area in the shallows and on the beach – these areas would almost certainly see a detector overnight.
Digging an ancient corroded iPhone suggested that no-one had searched here recently, so there was a high chance of recovery, however the beach was gaining sand with each tide and I suspected I’d need to return at the next days dawn low with the 15″ coil.

I discussed this with John, and now the tide had receded somewhat, had another go at establishing where he was in relation to the low/high water marks and thus the theoretical position he was in before I decided to go another 30 minutes through to dead low before calling it a night.
Changing the sweep pattern to perpendicular to the beach, I headed out far enough to ensure I was well overshooting the likely area in order to eliminate any ‘memory drift’ as to what depth he was in, before sweeping back into the beach.
It was on the third pass that I heard that solid, repeatable gold tone and caught the ring in the scoop on the second dig, lying on the eroding edge of an offshore sandbar – I suspect he had been standing on this sand bar, hence the perception he had been in shallow water.
Holding the ring in the classic victors thumb/forefinger pose, I turned to show John it was a happy ending, only to see the rest of the family had arrived – Perfect timing.

Happy faces all round, and a pose for the cameras before I headed home to crawl back into bed…