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Thread: I want to learn more about reading a beach

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  1. #1
    us
    Aug 2012
    BEACH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY!
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    Beach and Shallow Water Hunting

    I want to learn more about reading a beach

    What is your best advice for where to look to learn more about reading a beach and tides, etc. I want to know the science behind sand movement & best places to search the coastline & why. We don't seem to have much of a hard pan bottom here on the NC coastline ...but then I've never been here during the late winter searching the beaches.

    Thank you!

  2. #2

    Mar 2007
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    Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!

  3. #3
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    Surrender the Booty

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    Hardest working man on the beach

  4. #4
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    CASPER

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    Theres a guy from myrtle beach that wrote a book on it - forgot the title but someone here I'm sure can tell you
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  5. #5
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    beachcomber, treasure hunter, fisherman

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    Theres a lot to learn about beaches and how they work. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of factors that determine the movement of sand on the beaches. Every location has its own unique features from sand grain size and make up, to wind patterns and currents. Waves, sea life, people traffic, history, geology......and on and on. The more you think the more factors you can come up with. All effect the way a beach lives and breathes, if you know what I mean. Best advice I can think of is go every day for at least an hour at each tide, when you go home write down a description in a "beach journal" you will be amazed at what you can learn when you read it after about a year. Ive been watching a beach in particular for the last 3 years. Ive been watching the sand move in an undulating pattern in and out over hardpan bottom like a giant snake. At the top of the bar there is to much sand for my machine to hit hard pan. But if I wait between 1-3 months the bar will have moved in or out enough for me to detect all the way to rock. Theres so much a book should be written. I could go on for pages so ill cut to the chase. It takes a lifetime of living on a beach to notice the subtle changes and what they mean. The best teacher is the beach itself. Geee......can you tell I love the beach !!!! Hope I didnt ramble on to long , and that helped a little.

  6. #6
    us
    Surrender the Booty

    Apr 2011
    Royal Palm Beach, Fl
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    To add to what Blak bart says, for all your beaches you will want to establish reference points so you can have quick ways of understanding the sand levels. You will want to make notes of any hazards in the water, like buried large pieces of iron, rocks and other "traps". Notes about where you are finding the good and the bad. There may be objects you only see appear sometimes, make note of them, they could be cables, stairs, part of a wall.......anything that can give you reference. Watch where water pools, learn to read the dips and valleys......low areas on a beach are important! When you find a hole, make note of how you might find something like that again, what clues were there. Also look at shells and other accumulation.......look for anything out of the ordinary......ask yourself why is this happening? Why is it different? When sand builds it came from somewhere......maybe you should check that place. Do not just "box hunt" a beach, always ask questions and notice stuff. You can step up your water game even more by doing hookah or scuba in shallow, or even snorkel with a mask, you can learn a lot and find a lot under water. Hit maps, look for beach accesses no one knows about, look for old beach accesses that are no longer there, old piers, old structures, sometimes entire building foundations are now underwater! Any solid structure is your friend.......they are traps. Rocks, large and small.......very hard to get a detector around, so many avoid them. Don't! Bring a Rock Hammer, screw driver or other crevice tool and an underwater pin pointer........sometimes you just get down with a mask and pinpoint around the perimeter, in holes, etc. Cuts are interesting, but most I see search them go too fast and are not thorough, it takes a lot of body strength to swing a detector near vertical for a long time........try to be more through on the beach. Make sure you have equipment that can detect the wet and the water........otherwise you are missing the best part imho. Anything you find on a beach that you don't understand what it is, keep it. if you can't identify keep it. Even iron bits you may wish to keep they could be relics or have a story to them that may help you find more valuable stuff.......this is especially true of anything in the wet or the water.
    Hardest working man on the beach

  7. #7
    us
    beachcomber, treasure hunter, fisherman

    Jun 2016
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    Very well put signal !!! Im sure you will agree that we have only scratched the surface about how to read a beach. Golden oaks you are a very wise man to realize that being able to read a beach is the key to greater success. Good luck. And happy hunting.
    ChampFerguson/TN likes this.

  8. #8
    Charter Member
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    Just a New Englander living in the South!

    Oct 2015
    Gaston County, NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by CASPER-2 View Post
    Theres a guy from myrtle beach that wrote a book on it - forgot the title but someone here I'm sure can tell you
    Gold beneath the waves.

    By: Jim Brouwer

    You can find it on Amazon.

    As I don't get to the beach as much as I would like. I think as you try to read it you should also have some fun detecting. Now if your on the beach, yeah I am Jealous! lol!

    GL & HH!
    Blak bart likes this.
    Life is a adventure, live it!


    Trump, Pence - 2016

  9. #9
    Charter Member
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    Make America Great Again!

    May 2010
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    You can read all the books and articles in the world, and they won't teach you anything you wouldn't learn by simply getting out on the beach and detecting it. I ALWAYS catch heat from beach detectorists that want others to believe it is rocket science - it isn't. Beach detecting is the EASIEST form of metal detecting there is, that's why you see so many fat and elderly guys swinging on the beach.

    The secret is a good saltwater machine, and a good long handled scoop. You hunt at low tide, and when the public has left the beach, not while they are still on it. If your feet are sinking into the wet sand, the beach is "Sanded in." Treasure is where you find it, and NO book or article will help you find it.

    Get your butt, and machine in the water and start working. Maybe one day you'll write a book!
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  10. #10
    OBN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Soloman View Post
    You can read all the books and articles in the world, and they won't teach you anything you wouldn't learn by simply getting out on the beach and detecting it. I ALWAYS catch heat from beach detectorists that want others to believe it is rocket science - it isn't. Beach detecting is the EASIEST form of metal detecting there is, that's why you see so many fat and elderly guys swinging on the beach.

    The secret is a good saltwater machine, and a good long handled scoop. You hunt at low tide, and when the public has left the beach, not while they are still on it. If your feet are sinking into the wet sand, the beach is "Sanded in." Treasure is where you find it, and NO book or article will help you find it.

    Get your butt, and machine in the water and start working. Maybe one day you'll write a book!
    I'm with Terry, I think I bought every book wrote and nothing helped until I started hunting Myfavorite beach's on a regular bases. After a few years you start building a map in your head of the changes when it was good, great, or bad and how it got to be. I know what to look for now when I go out but still far from being able to predict what I am going to walk into.

    .Effort is Important, But knowing where, when and how to make an effort can make all the difference!

    2017 .. Gold Rings 134.........Silvers 176




  11. #11
    Charter Member
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    Just a New Englander living in the South!

    Oct 2015
    Gaston County, NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by OBN View Post
    I'm with Terry, I think I bought every book wrote and nothing helped until I started hunting Myfavorite beach's on a regular bases. After a few years you start building a map in your head of the changes when it was good, great, or bad and how it got to be. I know what to look for now when I go out but still far from being able to predict what I am going to walk into.

    I bought Gold beneath the waves just to get an idea of whats there after I have been to Myrtle a couple times. It is an interesting read for me. Lots of laffs too! I dig way more change at Myrtle then anything else. I did find one gold ring there next to a collection box that holds chairs. I do leave with a smile! A bad day of detecting is much better then a good day at work! lol!
    dsdigger and ltd063 like this.
    Life is a adventure, live it!


    Trump, Pence - 2016

  12. #12
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    Garry

    Nov 2013
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    You should hunt low tide, high tide, in the wet sand, water and dry sand. It does not matter who is on the beach. Get there early and stay all day. You will have great finds. Don't ever let tides dictate your detecting. I go high or low and have great luck.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    If you don't look for it you won't find it!! So get out there and dig it.

  13. #13

    Mar 2007
    Salinas, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blak bart View Post
    Theres a lot to learn about beaches and how they work. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of factors that determine the movement of sand on the beaches.....
    Quote Originally Posted by signal View Post
    ... you will want to establish reference points so you can have quick ways of understanding the sand levels. ....
    Excellent posts Black-Bart and Signal. I can think of beaches where 5 ft. of sand can come and go routinely, yet mean absolutely nothing (still just zinc and foil). But I can think of other beaches where ....... if 5 ft. left ...... it would be Christmas come early ! It depends on what each beach is "acclimated" to. Ie.; the "norm". So you have to look for swell/tide/wind conditions that are out-side of that norm.

    And this is where it gets tricky, because there are 360 degrees of the compass, and 360 degrees of the angle to which beaches face the ocean. And infinite combinations of swell direction vs wind direction combinations. And timing (during of said-events) plays into it.

    So the best you can do, once you hear of beach erosion warnings on the weather channels , is to sample various beaches. For me, it's gotten to where I can simply drive to the parking lot, look down from the cliffs, and don't even have to go down to know if it's going to be good or bad. Because I just know from 35 yrs. experience the normal look of the beach. And know how it looked back-when it was last filled with erosion-result targets. So I sometimes take a sample look at 5 or 6 beaches, and rendezvous by cell-phone with buddies doing likewise. So we can compare notes and decide where mother nature is doing her work on a particular day.

    However, it's not all hit-&-miss. You can know what days to go out and look , or what days to stay home and don't bother looking. By just studying the surfer reports and buoy/weather data on-line.
    Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!

  14. #14
    us
    Dec 2011
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    Metal Detecting
    Quote Originally Posted by Golden oaks View Post
    What is your best advice for where to look to learn more about reading a beach and tides, etc. I want to know the science behind sand movement & best places to search the coastline & why. We don't seem to have much of a hard pan bottom here on the NC coastline ...but then I've never been here during the late winter searching the beaches.

    Thank you!
    Experience is your best teacher, but it helps if you do your homework; these two books are useful:

    1) "How to Read the Beach and Water" by Gary Drayton

    2) "How to Read a North Carolina Beach" by Orrin Pilkey

    The first book is the most helpful, the second book is basic science and is more for background for specifically NC beaches..

    HH

    Charles

  15. #15
    OBN
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    This is one I away's liked, not mine but by one of the best on the Carolina shore


    Some great reading from the SodaPop Pirate Seaweed Ray

    At one time I thought all coins found in the wet sand and in the water were, indeed, headed out to sea. I like to say the more I learn the less I know.
    John
    ============================================
    You 'hit the nail on the head' for me, too, John. I have studied the Outer Banks beaches (NC) for many years, as part of my metal detecting hobby and can say, without a doubt, that I don't fully understand what makes certain movements of the sands, materials (including coins/jewelry) occur at the time and manner in which they often do. I will debate with anyone....that beach metal detecting is one of the most difficult of the hunts connected with the hobby. Unlike highland hunting, where the targets lay, generally undisturbed from the time they are lost and later recovered.....beach targets are, most often,constantly on the move.. I have reached the point, after many years of beach hunting, where I categorize our beaches, pretty much by the four seasons... with a much broader description being a 'summer beach' and a 'winter beach'.. Both are as different as 'sweet' and 'semi-sweet' chocolate!!.. However, I will say that I am predominantly a 'winter beach' hunter.. ..due to several reasons...the main one being the higher degree of erosion and greater probability of discovering the 'older/true artifacts'.. Silver coins and older jewelry are nearly impossible to find on NC beaches during the summer months....Recently dropped clad coins and new jewelry...are the only sure bets.....and even they, in my opinion, are not as easily found until the late fall and winter months..Water hunting (wading over knee deep) on our beaches is difficult, if not impossible during 90% of the summer days...due to constant onshore waves, the sudden drop-off of the beaches and bad rip-tides, which often result in closing of the beaches for swimming. However, these same elements add greatly to the 'erosion factor' during the winter months.. of course, as they occur with much greater force.

    I am positively convinced that it would be impossible to write a comprehensive article on beach metal detecting, with facts and/or pointers that can hold true for every beach around the country and world... I've tried it.....and each time I find myself making statements which I know to be true for 'my beach'.....but find to be unreliable for other beaches I have hunted or read about.. Obviously, we will agree that 95+% of all lost coins (excluding shipwrecks). ..were first dropped on dry land (sand)...But, we also know that many of these coins were washed into the sea..and returned to land, often many times before they were recovered.....It is what happens during that in-between time ....that may be difficult to understand. Here is my 'take' on the NC beaches.....and you may find it interesting..and certainly may not agree with some of it.....It is however, a conclusion, that I have reached...after many, many years of beach hunting.... MOVEMENT OF BEACH COINS/JEWELRY ON THE NC (OUTER BANKS) BEACHES 95+% of all coins/jewelry lost.....are dropped during the summer months of June through September....98+% of these coins are lost on the high dry beach sand. A large amountof these coins/jewelry is picked up by summer metal detectorists.. ..with the largest amounts foot-trodden deep into the sands.....or picked up and pulled to sea by an ensuing tide. (I will add here that I feel that only a minute percentage of the unfound summer coins find their way into the ocean during the summer months. And these are the ones which are lost at that point between the high tide line and the ocean, or those lost by someone trouncing around in the shallow waters near the shoreline. There are practically no coins washed onto the beaches during the summer months.. ...while there may be a few coins found in the wet sand (that sand between high and low tide)..during summer months...those coins are predominatly newly lost coins which have endured very little movement.....and for all practical purposes have not 'been to sea'.... The prevailing summer winds on NC beaches are out of the 'southwest'..these winds do not 'blow the ocean level' back, as offshore winds may do...on say ..Gulf Shore or shallow-water beaches...instead, they result in a very direct onshore wave action...which will take the 'outer bars' created by winter weather and push them gently onto the beaches....bringing 'new sand'....with them... and little else in the way of other materials.....Summer sand on the NC beaches is very clean and usually void of many shells and other materials.. It is not until fall (late Sept.)...that more prevalent northeasterly winds begin to blow.....resulting in higher tides...which begin to 'strip' the beach of its 'summer sands'.....uncovering many of the deeper foot-trodden coins lost during the summer..... sweeping many more of them out into the waters.. (how do they return?...we'll see later, below) As a regular beach hunter....it is very easy to determine when the above is occuring.....almost to the point where I can tell when the 'current summer season's coins have disappeared.....and coins several 'seasons old'.. ..begin to make their appearance!!.....aside from the obvious appearance/condition of the coins themselves!!......It is when the summer beach sand disappears that beach metal detecting is at its finest!!!!!! You recall that I said above that I believe that very few coins either 'go to sea' or are 'returned from the sea'...during the summer months.. Of this factor......I am postively sure (in my mind, at least)....after 20+ years of trekking NC's beaches.... Now, using the two broader terms of describing beaches.... that being 'summer beaches'..and 'winter beaches'......what is occuring on NC's beaches during the winter months? Beginning in late September and running through mid to late April...NC's beaches are going through a constant (sometimes almost daily)...stripping, eroding, rebuilding......stripping, eroding, rebuilding...process....until ....around Jan. or Feb. the erosion process...has gained on the rebuilding... which usually follows.....to the point where the beaches have reached their lowest point of erosion. During March and April, the rebuilding cycles will outgain the erosion cycles..until early May....when the summer beaches will begin to rebuild. OK!!!!!...the trick to winter beach metal detecting.... simply is to catch the beach...during those prime winter months (Sept./April) ...when the erosion cycle is occuring!!...Simple enough.....watch the weather, the wind direction, the times of the tides, the time of full moon (important!!), WATCH THE BEACH!! A beautifully eroded beach can be totally ruined by just one 'high tide'.. on a beautiful winter day!!.....one or two inches of new sand may be all it takes to turn a 200+ coin day.....into total ZILCH HUNTING!!..."You should have been here yesterday!"...applies to beach metal detecting, just like it does to fishing!! Enough rambling.....but one last point I want to make which very may well intrigue a lessor student of beach metal detecting...and may bring forth argument from some of the more serious ones. I have dug coins on the beach during the winter months which, I know have been to sea and back to the beach many, many times...before they were finally recovered....modern coins which were worn, almost to the point of being unidentifible.....yet vintage coins (1600's)...which looked as good as the day they were lost!!!!!.......Why?......How do shipwreck coins find their way to the beaches?......When do modern coins wash ashore? Last first..... Remember, I believe coins leave the beach and wash ashore, mainly during winter months (in NC)....they leave the beach, obviously, when the storms and heavy surf strip the beach of more than minute layers of sand... More importanly, when do they come back? I believe that (during winter months)...coins are being washed upon the beaches at times WHEN THE BEACHES ARE ACTUALLY ERODING.....NOT REBUILDING.. ...does this seem strange??....not really.....yes, the beach does go through a small amount of rebuilding during winter months.. but while is throwing new sand up on the beach...it IS NOT THROWING UP COINS...this can be proven by the fact that, as I said earlier, YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE YESTERDAY, REMEMBER??....after heavy erosion, during the winter, when things settle down...the beach usually rebuilds, slowly until the next storm...I never, I REPEAT, NEVER,....hunt the beach during this phase.. ....because the coins simply are not there!! How can coins be washed upon the beach when the beach is eroding? Simple...These coins have been pushed into the deep trough which lays close to shore during the winter months....they lay there for days, months. ...being tossed about and aggitated ....as if being in a washing machine.. At times when the ocean currents (and thats another story..because its ocean currents more than wave action that erodes the beach)...are eroding the beaches.....these coins are pushed to the very edge of the beach drop offs....where they will be 'flipped up on the beach' AT THE CHANGING OF THE TIDES, LOW TIDE TO HIGH TIDE,.....at times when erosion is actually occuring.....It is at this time, on low tide,......when the the greatest concentration of coins can be found washed ashore on the beach!! I have hunted the beaches at these times when....it was tempting to just lay the detector aside....and eyeball and pick up coins!!!!!....I am sure others have, also. TO REPEAT AGAIN, DETECTABLE COINS ARE WASHED ASHORE ON NC BEACHES, DURING THE WINTER MONTHS, IN EXTREMELY GREATER NUMBERS THAN SUMMER MONTHS, AND ARE PUT THERE DURING PERIODS OF BEACH EROSI0N...NOT BEACH REBUILDING!!... OLDER, VINTAGE COINS, SHIPWRECK COINS..... I am not an ocean salvor, scuba diver....or treasure hunter....in the "Mel Fisher" sense of the word.....I have, however, found my fair share of older, shipwreck coins along NC's Outer Banks.... I have noticed, of late, a newer theory emerging among some of the Florida beach hunters....that many of the 'treasure coins' yet to be found on Florida's Gold Coast....are not, yet to be washed ashore....but are already there!!!!!!!.....laying beneath the high dunes....and below the very sands which are trampled on, every day of the year!!! I say, 'welcome to the club'!! My hunting colleagues and myself..have determined some time ago...that there are very, very few, if any,......ancient shipwreck coins 'washing ashore' along NC's shorelines today...There may be, and no doubt are, many ancient shipwreck coins laying beneath NC's oceans...But, if they have found their way onto the beaches during these modern times.....I am not aware of it... We do, however, find a good number of 1600/1700/1800 coins on NC's Outer Banks beaches......but, we find them after many, many hours of winter beach hunting ...when we are able to find the areas where, obviously....shipwrecks landed ON THE BEACH...in years gone by... We have shipwrecks marked on the beaches....many of them to become uncovered.. ..only every few years...and for only a day or two at a time....or perhaps just a 'plank' or 'ship's spike'...popping up.....but they are there...you just have to be there at the right time!!!! To close that topic....I believe that 99% of all shipwreck or ancient coins to be found on NC's beaches are already there.....and have been there for hundreds of years...waiting for the right person to find them.....at the appropriate time.....when the eroding beach...will let them appear... In closing, I wouldn't trade NC's Outer Banks beaches for any that I am aware of....even Florida's wonderful Treasure Coast!!!.....
    Seaweed(Ray Midgett)Copyright

    .Effort is Important, But knowing where, when and how to make an effort can make all the difference!

    2017 .. Gold Rings 134.........Silvers 176




 

 
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