Metal Detecting Sterling Silver Wedding Band in Rehoboth Bay, Dewey Beach, Delaware…Found!
June 28, 2019
Carla’s Sterling Silver Wedding Band with Colorful Accent Stones
Searching for lost property can take you down all kinds of windy and unexpected roads. You will meet wonderful people and you may find yourself in certain situations that you would never have expected prior to when the initial adventure had begun. Here is what I mean:
I had taken my boat out onto Rehoboth Bay, located on the other side of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, just west inland of the Atlantic ocean. I was on a search for a lost ring that had fallen into the bay while a guy was pulling up his anchor shortly after his family went swimming in the water weeks earlier. They took their boat from New Jersey all the way down to Delaware to do some vacationing over a long extended weekend. I was hoping that I could retrieve the ring from the water, but unfortunately my boat ran into problems just prior to me anchoring at the exact GPS location where he lost the ring. My engine stalled and the current was too strong to paddle up the channel where I had traveled from. I probably cruised about a mile and a half down the canal area into the bay when my engine suddenly cut off. I was really close to my target, but it wouldn’t be my day to find the ring. Instead, I needed to find help!
Eventually, I drifted over to a shore area located on the opposite side of the bay, completely in the wrong direction from where I was trying to travel to. I was now a half of a mile south of where I was trying to anchor, and each time I tried to get further back into the center of the bay, I was pushed back towards the shoreline by the strong current and choppy water. I had a choice: either ground the boat on the private shoreline property and see if I could get an Uber or someone to drive me to my car and then retrieve the boat on the way back (which would have been very difficult because there were no launch sites anywhere nearby), hire a boat tow service (which would have been costly), or lastly, to try to flag someone down that was out boating who would be willing to tow me in.
I called the tow service and they gave me a quote. I thought maybe the boat would sink just hearing the number that they gave me to tow me
in! When I tried to see if there were any other boats that might be close enough to possibly stop to help assist my efforts to get up the channel, there was nothing to work with because I was pretty far from where people were cruising. I had very little choice but to call the tow service.
This is where the turn of events took place! I was just hanging out in the boat trying to make my final decision as to what to do, when all of a sudden I noticed a large pontoon boat coming my way! I remembered seeing that same boat earlier some distance away along the shoreline. Apparently they were crabbing and partying out on the deck. They got closer and closer until I heard one of the ladies on the boat call over to me, “Do you need any help?!” Their boat continued to draw nearer. They we’re coming to rescue me! This was awesome! I yelled back and explained that the motor stalled and that I had been fighting the current for quite a while. They weren’t surprised because they had noticed what was going on with me for some time and wondered if I was in trouble. Before long, Claudia, who was steering their boat, maneuvered the pontoon as close to me as possible, and then another lady onboard named Carla, threw me a tow line and I quickly tied it to the bow of my boat and in no time we were headed towards a launch site where I could get the boat out of the water! I could not be more grateful for these people’s assistance! Not only did they tow me in, but they went past their own slip and took me to a launch site that was out of their way just to make life easier for me by getting my boat up on shore so I could break my gear down. In addition to this amazing kindness, when we got to the site where they would release me from their line, they offered to pick me up in their minivan, haul my boat and all of my gear and take me back to my car which had to be a good 7 to 10 miles away. Then, they would have to drive themselves all of the way back home! Who were these amazing people?! I was beyond touched! I gratefully accepted their offer and prepared to break down my gear upon Claudia and Carla releasing the tow line when we got to the launch site.
Thirty minutes later, the ladies returned to me in their minivan, ready to further assist! The moment they got out of the vehicle, one of them walked over to me and handed me an ice cold bottle of beer to cool me off! I couldn’t get over the kindness! Wow! Was that sweet of them! And boy was that beer refreshing after all that I had been through!
I loaded everything up, which they both assisted in helping me with the gear and the boat (so very nice of them and they were extremely strong, too!) and in no time they were taking me back to my vehicle up river! I felt so much love and compassion coming from these two ladies!
As we drove, I offered to take care of their gas expense and I asked them if they had ever lost anything that perhaps I could help find with my metal detector as a way of showing my gratitude for all that they had done for me! I don’t remember if it was Claudia or Carla that had responded to my inquiry, but one of them said that there was actually something that was lost a year ago but that they had no confidence that it could ever be recovered. I asked what it was and the two of them shared that Carla’s custom made sterling silver wedding band from Hawaii was lost a year earlier in Rehoboth Bay while working in the water. Carla rents kayaks and paddle boards on the bay, and I believe she instructs, as well. While securing the kayaks and boards one day, her ring slipped off her finger and ended up at the bottom of the bay. Though she attempted to reach below the two and a half to three feet of water to retrieve the ring, it was impossible for her to find it in midst of the murky and muddy conditions. At some point she resolved that the ring was not obtainable to retrieve and that it was gone forever. That was a year ago.
Upon hearing the story, I assured Carla that as soon as I loaded up everything in my car, I would start heading over to Dewey Beach, Delaware on the bay side, about 20 minutes or so away, to start my search for the missing ring that had been underwater for over a year. They weren’t holding their breath that I would find the ring and I too wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it from the bay. However, I was excited to take the challenge and see what we could find! Claudia and Carla continued to share with me that they were a married couple and that Claudia had the matching ring since they acquired the custom rings in Hawaii for their soon after wedding ceremony. I never ended up testing the other ring to use for my upcoming search.
Once we got everything out of the minivan and placed on the concrete next to my car and got the boat re-situated, we took a quick video and we said our goodbyes. I had many words of thanks to both of these ladies for the amazing rescue and all of the ways that they helped me after dropping me off with the boat at the launch site and taking me along with all of my things back to my car.
Because I had to abort my original mission out on the bay, I was now taken in another direction south of that location to search for another ring just off the shore of the same Rehoboth Bay.
Carla gave me the address where she worked and soon thereafter, I had reached the search location. Then, I unloaded all of my gear, walked out onto the bay shoreline where I took note of my surroundings and looked for all of the landmarks that Carla had told me about in order to put me in position to search for her lost ring.
Carla told me that the band slipped off about 10 feet from the pier, which was to the left of where the kayaks and paddleboards were locked up. She shared with me earlier that she lost the ring somewhere between one of the boards or kayaks while she was locking them up. Exactly where, of course would be the mystery to be solved.
Remember, this happened a year earlier. Tides had rolled in and out over and over again. Storms blew through the bay area over the course of the past 12 months. Ice and other severe conditions affected the bottom of the water over time.There were so many factors that could have affected the original location of the ring.
When I started metal detecting in the water, it was low tide and night was falling fast. Within a short while, I had my headlamp blazing bright, my scoop was in hand, and I was ready to attempt a recovery of Carla’s lost wedding band. As I walked in the water, the surface started with a pleasant sandy bay bottom floor. But, as I moved into the deeper areas I quickly found out why it was nearly impossible for Carla to retrieve her ring when she attempted to do so on the day of its disappearance. Everything turned to mud out by the kayaks and boards! It was awful! Every time I was bringing the scoop up with a potential target inside of it, I was faced with a massive clump of mud that smelled so viciously evil! It was horrible! I dread environments like this, as do most detectorists!
For those who are not metal detectorists who are reading this article, one of your biggest enemies being a metal detectorist is searching for a lost item in solid mud under the water! Your dive boots constantly get stuck in the mess and you barely can move without one of the boots slipping off your foot! You can’t use the existing water to help sift through the mud in the scoop because the mud is too thick and it doesn’t fall through the holes of the scoop. Every time you have a potential target to search for, you have to take the scoop with all of its mud over to the shallow area and dump it on the dry sand unless you have a floating sifter. Then, you have to metal detect the mud with your pinpointer to see what you brought up from the water. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, you have to repeat the same process over and over again!
Every time I brought the mud up, the stench was almost unbearable! It was just disgusting! I kept searching and searching, and I pulled up all kinds of hardware of sunken boats, along with coins and miscellaneous pieces of trash that had signals in the sterling silver range. There was a lot of garbage scattered about and it did not make my job any easier.
I metal detected for several hours but unfortunately I could not find Carla’s ring. All kinds of questions went through my mind. Could someone have dug it up the already? It was possible, but very unlikely because of the terrible conditions out there. Few metal detectorists would have had the patience to try to find anything in that horribly forsaken mud mess! Also, I found enough coins that had been down there for some time which made me believe that no one had disturbed the “scene of the crime” since last summer.
It was probably around 11 p.m. or so by the time I had to wrap things up for the night. I was disappointed that I didn’t have better results to share with Carla and Claudia upon getting back to my vehicle empty-handed. I needed to start heading back home which was three hours away. I would resolve to return next week to try again and see if I could pull the ring from out of the water.
I couldn’t wait to get back in the bay and try again to find the sterling silver band. The challenge of pulling up something that had gone missing for over a year was extremely exciting to me! I get huge adrenaline rushes for such hunts!
When I arrived back at the search site, the sky was mostly blue with some overcast skies heading my direction. A storm had emerged in the southwest area but it didn’t affect my efforts. Once I got all of my equipment back on the bay’s shore, I introduced myself to the employees who work for the same rental company as Carla. They were very nice people. One of them called up Carla to verify that I did in fact have permission to search for the missing ring.
Once I was cleared, I set up my gear and started my second search attempt. Detecting in daylight was definitely an advantage because I was able to see my surroundings a little bit easier, and the muddy conditions did not appear to be as eerie as in the dark. I detected every signal that was in the sterling silver range. I brought up all kinds of stuff and yet, there was no band to be discovered. I detected between the kayaks and paddle boards, carefully moving them to the side or placing one partially on top of the other. I moved farther away than the approximate 10 feet originally remembered. When I still couldn’t find it, I called up Carla to re-gauge my positioning and I continued on, detecting, scooping, emptying the scoop on shore, pinpointing the object, and then returning to the search site where I repeated the process again. Still, I came up with nothing.
Hours upon hours had passed by this point. I was getting extremely frustrated with the mud. I didn’t think that I could continue digging much longer because my attempts were failing over and over again. Each time that I found a potential target to pull up, it would take me sometimes up to10 minutes or more just to get the object in the scoop. Then, it would take more time to find out what it was that I pulled up because of how dense the mud was. Though the boots I wear are ankle high and can be zipped up, they were no match for the black glue-like substance that made up the bottom of the bay! And again, the smell was horrific! Just terrible! I had to hold my breath most of the time!
Finally, I got to the point where I decided it was time to wrap things up. I had tried so very hard to find this ring which I didn’t even know if it was still out there. I believed I searched every possible location. I even recreated the scene by going through the motions just as Carla would have done when she was tying up all of the rentals a year earlier. I knew that I was in the basic location because the rope that tethered all of the kayaks and paddleboards got tied to the same latch on the pier. It had never been repositioned. Therefore, the area that I was covering was definitely the right location. But the question was whether or not the ring may have moved because of the currents and or the tides. Or perhaps it got buried even farther down into that forsaken mud mixture where my detector might not have been able to pick up the signal. I didn’t know what the reason was that I couldn’t spot the ring, and that frustrated me greatly.
I decided to make my next signal to be my very last target to bring up. If you don’t believe this account, the search video will prove my testimony! I decided to aim my last attempt between two paddle boards that I had searched somewhere in that vicinity before. But, this time I would move one of the rentals over just slightly more to one side to give me a little bit more clearance to swing the detector at the bottom of the bay. Just moments after I started maneuvering the coil of the detector along the surface of the mud, about three feet below the surface, and about a foot deep in the mud, I heard a high tone signal that matched the zone I was looking for. Also, the numbers were coming up really well and within the range that I needed the signal to show forth. I did not want to get too excited but I thought, ‘this could really be it’. I kept scooping, repositioning the detector to get the signal again, scooped again, pinpointed the signal with the detector and then I tried to scoop up the target once more. Then, at some point there was no longer a signal coming from the hole that I was scooping in and I was positive the target was in my scoop. Like all of the other times, I walked the mud pile over to the shore and dumped the contents onto the sand for checking. I took my hand-held pinpointer and searched more carefully. Then, I knew that whatever this piece of metal was, it was finally between my fingers. I had to clean off much of the black mud that surrounded it, and then everything came into view. What I had in my hand was a black colored, circular piece of metal that resembled a ring. I took it up closer to me, and there I could faintly see through the outer layer of the black crust surrounding the object, a colorful stone inserted in the middle! I found it! I found Carla’s ring! I remembered seeing the stones in Claudia’s. I almost couldn’t believe it! I had looked for so many hours during my first hunt a week ago into the darkness of the night. Then, I returned again today to search many more hours all to find nothing but trash right up until the very last target that I would get a signal worth digging! And it was the very one that I was looking for! I was shouting the victory cry, yelling with fists towards the air and people that were on their balconies could not have been more excited for me and more importantly, for Carla! They had seen me out there for so long, and a couple of the condominium residents even remembered seeing me search a week earlier. It was just a marvelous moment in time for me! I could not wait for me to show my findings with Carla and Claudia!
For those who are not aware of what happens to sterling silver in water over time, the metal oxidizes and the surface of the silver darkens in color. One can easily remove the outer layer that forms on the metal and return it to its original appearance. I did not do any removing of that layer just in case I might accidentally leave a scratch on the ring. I would leave that up to Carla to take care of. When I saw the colored stone in the ring, I knew that the blackened condition of the ring most likely meant that it was silver in content. I was so happy to see this outer color change because it was the best clue to indicate that I had found what I had been searching for this whole time!
What a great feeling to pack up my gear and leave the search site with the keepsake that I had come to look for, pulling it from the bay where it had resided in a foot of mud, in the water below for over a year! Absolutely fantastic! My mission was completely successful!
Now it was time to bring the ring back to its owner. I wasn’t going to call Carla up and share the news on the phone. I definitely was going to do a fake-out! As I drove in the direction of their home, which was very close to where the two of them had rescued me out in the Rehoboth Bay a week earlier, I came up with my surprise strategy. Carla and Claudia got a fun reveal waiting for them!
Watch the upcoming video to see how I surprised the ladies! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel at: THE RING RETURNER and hit the notification bell to get a reminder when the video is finally uploaded.
It brought me so much happiness to return the ring to Carla! As a result, we all became friends. I also got to meet their lovely children back at their place. We celebrated with a couple of drinks and the next day we sat out on their deck and shared life together. Not only that, but they offered to take me back out to the initial search site to help me recover the ring for that other gentleman. Can you believe such selflessness and kindness?! Because my boat engine was not repaired yet, we would take the pontoon boat out the next day and I would check the search site out for the missing ring. Unfortunately the water was too deep even at low tide and I was not able to use my equipment. Also, I was not equipped with additional scuba gear in order to attempt a dive for the ring at that point. However, I got to jump in and cool off in the water and so did Claudia after I climbed out! It was quite refreshing! Then, we headed back towards their slip and hung out outside for a while as I shared earlier. It was a blast!
So, what started out as a time of adversity for me in trying to help somebody find their lost ring, it ended up with me being helped, which in turn allowed me to help them with finding their missing ring, and then also in turn, they ended up helping me once again with a final search attempt to help that other person who lost his ring overboard!
I look forward to stopping by and saying hello to my new friends the next time I’m out in that neck of the woods again!
We will always have fond memories of this story that the three of us shared together. A story that was quite special indeed!