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Garrett ATX Return To Hawaii - 4/10/15


Steve Herschbach

I have done well in Hawaii with my Garrett ATX as told in my previous story at my previous story here. Most of the details of where and what I am doing, detector settings, etc. are all covered there so I will not repeat it all here.

My wife only had a week off for spring break so I had half the time to work with this go round. Still, I think I did all right. Now that I have my system down less time was wasted figuring things out. I used the Garrett ATX exclusively with the 8" mono coil. Discrimination was 3 and Sensitivity 7-8 with unit ground balanced underwater over basalt rocks.

I only worked in the water with mask and snorkel. I work right in the trough at the base of the beach slope a lot in 2'-4' waves and so I use 40 lbs of lead weight to help stay in place. Working overweighted in surf like this can be very dangerous if you do not have a very high comfort level. I have multiple SCUBA certifications up to and including my instructors certificate. Official disclaimer - I do not recommend working like this unless you are trained and know what you are doing.

Just swimming trunks with shirt. I use cheap knee brace pullovers you get in the pharmacy area in a general store as knee pads. Cheap rubber coated work gloves to protect my hands while digging. Surf shoes to protect my feet, and a good mask and snorkel. I hook the velcro strap on the ATX armrest around the handle of a clasp closure mesh goodie bag to hold stuff as I recover it. I bend bobby pins before dropping them in the bag or they slip through the mesh.

I hunt with mask and snorkel until I get a target. I look around for surfers and boogie boarders, evaluate the wave situation, and do a breath hold and duck to the bottom. I generally fan the bottom with my hand or excavate by hand to find the target, then stuff it in a goodie back hanging off my ATX armrest. Scoops are just one thing too many for me to handle in the surf and no good on hard surfaces anyway. I focus on the area where the sand is tapering into a hard coral or rock bottom that will catch and hold targets from sinking too deep.

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Steve with Garrett ATX geared up to metal detect in the surf

My main change of strategy this trip was to not dig everything. The ATX makes a hi-lo tone or a lo-hi tone on targets. Lo-hi is high conductive stuff like copper pennies, dimes, quarters, and large iron junk. Or silver rings or very large mens gold rings. Hi-lo is almost all gold or platinum jewelry, zinc pennies, nickels, aluminum stuff, and small steel stuff like bobby pins and rusted bottle caps. I was getting lots of copper pennies, dimes and quarters plus some large junk the first couple days. Dimes and quarters may sound nice but when recovering them in surf at risk to life and limb they are a definite trash target as far as I am concerned, though I did get a large silver ring also. I decided that gold rings were the main goal and with the short week I had no time to waste, so switched to digging hi-lo tones only. I was happy with the results and would recommend this to anyone using an ATX who for similar reasons what to improve the dig to ring ratio. Be aware though certain high value targets like very large mens rings will be missed.

I recovered a couple earrings and that impressed me very much in an underwater scenario. The ATX hits gold about as small as is possible in salt water. There was one well made fake diamond ring in particular that would have been my best ever had it turned out real. I recover them underwater, can't really tell but they sure look good underwater, and do not know until I get back to my room and empty the goodie pouch if I have made a big find. I hope the whole rest of the hunt, only to be let down back at the room. Gold rings on the other hand I know immediately are good finds. I also found a couple more old Sheraton hotel big brass keys to add to my collection. These are rare now at the beach as they are large easy finds, but if the sand scours out one will still turn up now and then.

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Coins, jewelry, and keys found by Steve detecting Hawaii surf

All the quarters, dimes, and copper pennies were recovered in the first two days. After that it was nickels and zinc pennies only and I toss the zincs in the garbage. Unless only a day or two old the salt water rots them away to junk. I had a nice pile of lead fishing weights I donated to the dive shop where I rented my weight belts. There was the usual junk as seen on the other page linked at the start of this post but this year I discarded it daily as I have done enough "here it all is" pictures.

All in all given that I had half the time to hunt my finds were on par with the last trip though the beach is depleting out. I considered going to other locations but by the time I drive somewhere else and back that is another hour or more that I could have been in the water. I do not hunt just Poipu beach but the next several beaches in a row so there is a large area I can walk to. There are always newer rings lost but it is the combination of many years of old rings and new rings that make it good, and as the old stuff depletes out then all there is to find is recent drops and the pickings get slimmer. Still, the location is far from worked out.

I only saw one other person with a detector, a local I saw last trip, who walks the beach at waters edge at low tide. He seems as concerned with being out for a walk as detecting as he covers ground real fast.

I like the ATX ability to easily adjust the rod length on the fly from very long to extra short. I did experience a little sand binding in the rods but took care to work the rods and flush them out before leaving the water each time and everything worked fine. I only charged batteries twice on the trip. The 8" mono with rod assembly is now my dedicated water coil, with the 12" x 10" used above water. The water use is rough on the rod and internal cable assembly and so I figure having a coil and rod just for that keeps the stock coil in better shape for normal use. I came away very happy once again with the Garrett ATX. It suits me very well for my style of water hunting.

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The rings Steve found on this trip with the Garrett ATX

The four 14K rings weighed in at 21.9 grams total. The silver colored 10K white gold ring with five small diamonds weighed 4.1 grams. The excellent gold smelt calculator at http://coinapps.com/gold/scrap/calculator/ reveals that to add up to 14.47 grams or nearly 1/2 oz of pure gold or about $500 bucks if sent to a smelter. I plan on refinishing and selling the rings in the future instead of having them smelted as I have in the past though so they should bring a bit better value that way.

This article originated as a thread on the DetectorProspector Forum. Extra details may be found there in follow up posts.

~ Steve Herschbach
Copyright © 2015 Herschbach Enterprises



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