It’s Bubba Time…

John Howland, the old sod from Bournemouth, sent along a few tips and insights on beach hunting with the AT-Pro line.  Hope you will give it a look-see.  Thanks Bubba…



John Howland

On the face of it you might reckon that beachcombing finds in the UK are  identical in number to those recovered along the Eastern Seaboard between Delaware through to Maine, where New England and ‘Old’ England are on similar Latitudes and both washed by the Gulf Stream’s warm waters.

Though US beachcombers recover high quality jewellery in greater quantities than their UK counterparts, the leader-board is reversed when it comes to coin recovery. The reason is as far as I can discern from email correspondence with Stateside colleagues, suggests that water and air temperatures play significant roles in this differential. Write in if you have a comment on this one.

For example, sea temperatures along the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, run at an average of between 51F to 71F in August. Whereas for the UK, average temperatures in the briny (along the popular seven miles of golden sands in the UK’s premier resort of Bournemouth, where I hunt) runs to between 59F to 66F.

Therefore, warm water encourages swimming and consequently high jewellery losses while the UK’s cooler waters results in fewer bathers and fewer jewellery losses. However, the UK’s warm Summer air temperatures encourages sunbathing on the dry sands where coin losses are higher and for reasons I can’t fathom, a degree of jewellery losses too.

In the past decade of searching local beaches, 90% of my jewellery finds have come from the dry-sand areas along with a very high rate of coin finds, where, following a ‘good’ summer and working just two hours a day, three days a week, upwards of $800 in assorted coinage is achievable.

This is not to say that high value jewellery does not lurk below the high water mark – out on the wet sand – it’s simply that fewer of these items exist than in the US. Rather than spending time searching for fewer high value items, I opt for hunting where I know mixed finds exist in profusion and where the probability of jewellery is higher than the sparser low tide areas.

The lesson is to hunt where people have gathered, not where they haven’t, or, seldom frequent. That said, hunting during a summer storm or on-shore blow especially when it coincides with High Water is seldom outclassed particularly where High Tides cut deep ‘steps’ into the beach.


Currently I use Garrett machinery: A Sea Hunter II pi; ATPro International; and an ATGold for inland, or heavily mineralized beaches (but that’s another story). Why Garrett? My views on Garrett machinery are well ventilated and need nothing further here. Indeed, Charles Garrett was a role model and inspiration for many UK newbies way back the mid-70s and early ‘80. In my view, American-made machines were, and still are, streets ahead all others in performance, reliability, and build quality. Add to this mix the fact that the US is the spiritual home of treasure hunting with a metal detector then my choice was inevitable.

The ATPro International is my constant companion being ideal for beach hunting in that it’s fully waterproof to ten feet, dust/sand proof and comes with optional fully waterproof headphones. This gives me the advantage that I can work from the top of the beach and out into the water if I so wish, without fear of accidentally ‘drowning’ it should I drop it into the water while wading. Indeed, I always swill the control box under the freshwater taps located along the promenades.

As ATPro owners are aware, the depth penetration of this metal detector is awesome, on a par with, and often outstripping, many machines costing a ‘Grand’ or more; both in the wet sand and up in the dry. In use, it’s essential to check and adjust the AT’s Ground Balance occasionally, especially when working over seawater-soaked sand. In-air tests on a UK £1-coin shows that 16”-plus inches are on offer. The secret with in-air tests is to knock-off a third and that’ll give you a rough Rule-of-Thumb for in-ground depth and the same applies to any make of metal detector.


10p coin recovered easily from 10”

With a correctly ground balanced ATPro, I have easily located £1-coins in dry sand to a depth of twelve inches; though I have never found a ring in wet sand deeper than five inches, not because the machine couldn’t penetrate deeper than 5-inches but simply because that was the depth of the ring!

Fresh batteries too, are an important consideration for keeping your machine at its peak performance, and with this in mind I contacted Steve Moore at Garrett regarding the urban myth that’s been doing the rounds; that rechargeables don’t give the same performance as non-rechargeables.

I asked: “If I run the ATGold/ATPro on Ni-MH AA-type rechargeables with a nominal voltage of 1.2 volts, that is 4 x 1.2 volts (4.8 volts in total); will this impair performance when compared to 4 x 1.5volt (6 volts in total) non-rechargeables?”

Reply: “No performance loss at all. The detectors’ internal circuitry boosts the battery voltage then regulates it to a constant value; therefore performance is constant regardless of battery voltage. (Just what you’d expect from Garrett, right?)”

Indeed, yes. But what of the other ‘myth’ that pinpointing drastically uses battery power? I’ve read that some hunters both beach and inland, prefer not to use the ‘pinpoint’ facility. Being one of those hunters who ‘uses the technology’ ( Jeez, I’ve paid for it after all) and never noticed any extra burden on the batteries, I fired off another email to Steve Moore to get the inside track, asking “Does pinpointing drain batteries?”

Reply: “The answer is no and yes. The circuitry operation is the same for all modes – discrim, all metal, pinpoint, whatever. Same battery drain.”

With the Pinpoint Mode, you are producing continuous audio while holding down that button. In the “true” All Metal mode (as opposed to Zero Mode), there is a continuous threshold. Scientifically speaking, this audio does take energy to be created, though only an intermittent beep that a binary detector makes. Therefore, there is a little more energy needed to continually push sound to the speaker; the louder it is, the more energy. That said, I’m told the amount of energy is miniscule and does not make significant demands on batteries.

My ATPro Set-Up    

Arguably the most dangerous control knob on any metal detectors is the DISCRIM control. Set it too high and all you’ll be doing is taking a pleasant walk along the beach. Set it too low and you could be a candidate for a spinal clinic with all the junk you’ll be bending over to collect. There is back-saving a middle way though.

First of all, eliminate all things ferrous. That said, steel bottle caps will still sound off as coins owing to their coin-like shape, but this anomaly is easily overcome by using the Iron Discrim and Iron Audio circuits in tandem relegating bottle caps to history whilst maintaining maximum depth penetration. I work with Iron Discrim set at between 25 and 35.

What happens is this: As the search coil nears a ferrous object (or bottle cap) there is a distinct ‘fuzzy-buzz’ in the headphones, followed by the clear signal of the object, then another ‘fuzzy-buzz’ as the coil passes away.

Fine tune by switching to PRO Mode/ All Metal/ and set the Iron Discrim between ’25’ and 35’’ with Iron Audio ‘On’. With this setting you will locate aluminium pull-tabs usually showing on the Digital readout scale between ’53 to 55’, but seeing that thin-section gold rings (those usually carrying gemstones) also fall into this readout band, I always dig – it’s only sand after all. Most silver paper will also be eliminated without any loss of depth.

Photo 3 (2)

What do you suppose the two rings in the photo have in common? On the ATpro’s DISCRIM Scale (and most other machines too I suspect) the one on the left with the huge emerald set in 18-carat gold and platinum and valued at $9,600 falls into the lower FOIL sector having a digital readout of ‘44’ while the triple-diamond jobby set in 18-carat gold, worth $2,800 registers ’53,’ the same as most cola/beer can tabs. Okay, you say, so what do they have in common? The novice user sees them both as JUNK!!!

What Makes a Successful Beachcomber?

First of all – and take this on board and inwardly digest – expensive machines don’t make better finds in the hands of a novice, in exactly the same way that the priciest golf clubs won’t help a novice golfer putt or drive like a ‘pro’.

Neither will you find coins/jewellery where none are likely to be found. However, if you apply your talents to the most obvious spots of the beach you will be successful to a greater or lesser degree, even with a so-called ‘entry-level’ machine. In my experience, the Garrett ACE250 is one of the best all-rounders on the market – simply brilliant.

Try not to be a Jack-of-All-Trades, but a Master of One. Pick your beach and stay with it, through Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall), and Winter. Observe and record its moods; how the sand moves and where it moves to. A beach is almost a living thing that changes its face according to the prevailing winds and tides.

Some beachcombers develop the ability to ‘read’ a beach; while for others it’s a second sense particularly with former anglers. Beach reading is a continuous learning curve but you will gain experience though you’ll never fully be able to answer all the questions and it’s this is what makes it fun. Don’t be tempted to buy books about ‘reading’ beaches – you can’t buy the expertise. Mostly they are utter bollocks written by chancers out for a quick buck…your buck.

Though I know the moods of my local beach (up to a point) it often throws me a curved ball. I don’t know it all, and I never will, but I have amassed enough local knowledge to give me more than a fighting chance and a severe advantage over inland hunters trying their luck on a day out at the seaside – and they all turn up with two-Grand jobbies. They never learn.

Happy Hunting!


Home on da’ Range

Three cowboys are sitting around a campfire, out on a lonesome Texas prairie, each with the bravado for which cowboys are famous. A night of tall tales begins.

The first one says, “I must be the meanest, toughest cowboy there is. Why, just the other day a bull got loose in the corral and gored six men before I wrestled it to the ground by the horns with my bare hands.”

The second cowboy can’t stand to be bested. “Why that’s nothing. I was walking down the trail yesterday and a fifteen-foot rattlesnake slid out from under a rock and made a move for me. I grabbed that snake with my bare hands, bit its head off and sucked the poison down in one gulp. And I’m still here today.”

The third cowboy remained silent, stirring the boiling coffee pot with his bare hands.


Vladimir Putin is in the line for Customs when he arrives in the Ukraine  for a summit meeting.

Customs Officer: “Name?”

Putin: “Vladimir Putin.”

Customs Officer: “Nationality?”

Putin: “Russian.”

Customs Officer: “Occupation?”

Putin: “No, just visiting.”


I’ll see y’all in the bar….




If you are lucky enough to still have your dad with you, please be sure to make Father’s Day extra special.  And if you are a dad as well….have a great day.

Happy Father's Day dad.....miss you!

Happy Father’s Day dad…..miss you!



Filed under Metal Detecting

4 responses to “It’s Bubba Time…

  1. Doug Frantz

    I’m not a beach hunter, but that’s a very interesting article. Surprised at the high amount of coinage that is possible to find. Many good tips there for those that hunt the beaches. Thanks.

  2. Battery life seems to almost becoming a non-issue. Years ago I had a used detector that finally quit working. Every time I went out (which wasn’t often) I’d stop by the quicky mart and purchase 2 -9 volt batteries for about 7 dollars. When I scrapped the machine I noticed someone wrote on the circuit board “BAD”

    Today with the low cost of AA batteries when purchased around the Holidays I see no need for even rechargable batteries. I can detect 4 days with 4 AAs that we purchased for about 10 cents a piece buying in bulk. The cheaper ones seem to last as long as the expensive ones. I never use pinpoint on the detector but it might use the batteries a little more.

  3. Big Tony

    Great beach article or should I say Garett, almost had me ready to buy another machine but I really don’t beach hunt much. I do go a few times in winter and summer – it is beautiful here in NJ, no brag just my opinion.

  4. Vacuous lame-brains continue to amuse.

    So a Greek arkie has been caught with his fingers in the cookie jar after indulging in a little ‘dayhawking’, liberating valuable artefacts from excavations he’d supervised. Shocking! Shocking! Well maybe not, if the comments from some of the smug, pious prigs, populating the realms of arse-dom in the archaeo-blogosphere are to be believed.

    The detector-hating, serial insulter, Paul Barford, aka Warsaw Wally, the Colonel-in-Chief of Barford’s Fusiliers was utterly beside himself with rage condemning the theft of Greek State property thus:-

    “Had he written them up? I expect this will be all over the metal detecting forums soon, like the guy who half-inched a bellarmine from a Roman dig in Bath years ago which they periodically drag up.”

    We can see the Colonel’s got his priorities in order: Never mind the theft, but had the felon recorded them? Now, that’s SERIOUS!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.