This week we talk about underwater detecting we cover snorkelling and scuba we also look at the equipment you will need and safety rules that should be followed and impact to recovery. So let’s get on with the show.
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Hey Everybody. Welcome! to Episode 43 of the metal detecting show podcast. My Name is Ciaran and I have been Metal Detecting for nearly 30 Years and This week we talk about underwater detecting we cover snorkelling and scuba we also look at the equipment you will need and safety rules that should be followed and impact to recovery. So let’s get on with the show.
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Hey Detectorists! Welcome to Episode 43, we are still in covid-19 lockdown but luckily and gladly our recent scare was a false alarm as both my wife and I tested Negative last week and today is the last day of isolation for us so every cloud has a silver lining. The Lock down has really killed opportunity for content creators to get out there and create content for their social media and podcasts but luckily I has some experience to draw on to get through the quagmire that is this lock down.
Speaking of experience this week we are going to talk about something I do have some experience with over the years but also something that is one of those things you need to do once just to experience it. I can rabbit on about it here for 10 mins and I will but unless you get out there and experience it for yourself your understanding of it will be limited. AS Joe Rogan says you have to embrace the uncomfortable and this is no different. What is the IT well What I’m talking about is under water metal detecting the big brother of river detecting which we covered recently.
River detecting is predominantly wading in to your chest and operating a detector underwater while you remain above water without the need of some breathing apparatus.
So for me under water detecting is metal detecting that requires the use of some artificial breathing equipment.
You can see the prevalence of Underwater metal detecting if you just look at the biggest metal detecting content creators on YouTube in the last few years all every one of them got their big break when they posted content of finding large hauls of either silver coins, mobile phones guns and jewellery while under water metal detecting. resulting in large spikes in subscribers and view counts. this tells me that the general public no longer has an appetite for the bog standard treasure hunter which we all are including me but want compelling underwater content with big rewards at the end.
So how do you get started in under water metal detecting. Most under water treasure hunters either started as a metal detectorist first and then learned to scuba dive or a scuba diver first who decided to bring a metal detector along if we separate the treasure hunting piece from the sub Nautica and Just looking at the underwater bit first There is a general path that people take and that is first they do some snorkelling and then graduate to scuba diving later, this will ring true if you have a metal detector or not but believe it or not do you know that the spoils in treasure hunting live in the water that is between 4 – 6 feet in depth which is perfectly reachable and manageable just snorkelling. So if your sole purpose is to metal detect then you may be happy to snorkel which is what I have done in the past. Except I have to watch out for Japanese whaling trawler when I do it.
So looking at snorkelling first and only looking at the breathing and essential equipment don’t worry ill get to the metal detecting equipment later on but first looking only at the snorkelling equipment.
All you need to get started is a properly fitting mask, a snorkel, and a comfortable set of fins. Starting with the mask as I said make sure it is fitting properly and to check this put the mask to your face, leave the strap hanging lose, develop a vacuum in the mask by sucking in air via your nose and if the mask is fitting correctly the mask should stick to your face if it falls then the mask is not fitting correctly a correctly fitting mask is essential and there are many masks designed to suit whether your face is long and thin or squat and fat but also make sure it has anti fog this is an essential feature at allows you to see effectivity under water.
Onto the snorkel itself there are different types of snorkel a wet snorkel which is essentially the standard j pipe with no valve or protection at the tip, the semi dry which is like the standard J type but has some form of a splash guard at the tip. And the dry type which has a nonreturn valve at the tip of the j pipe to prevent water from entering the pipe,
from my experience the dry type of snorkels are only suitable for floating on the surface and if you want to dive deeper it is best to avoid these, this is because they are in general designed poorly as with a little debris entering it the valve can stick shut resulting in a shock for you when you go to breath on emerging to the surface also as most have a flexible tube at the bottom this will compress closed when diving down to a certain depth resulting in negative pressure in the valve sucking the valve closed again causing shock when trying to breath when you need it. I have used a Semi Dry and the Dry and I prefer the semi dry it is more comfortable by far once you get the technique down to clear your snorkel everytime you surface.
AS an aside I would not recommend the full face snorkel combo popular at all holiday spots these all suffer from the same problem of the dry snorkel and only suitable for surface snorkelling.
Looking at fins you want to go for a short full foot fin the same size as you shoe’s Short fins give you more manoeuvrability in the water and conserve energy better as large fins take a bit of push to get you going and are perfect for going fast for long period of time which is not what you want metal detecting under water.
With those three relatively cheap pieces of equipment you are ready to get started but I would recommend the following accessories not including metal detecting accessories.
A Light wet suit 3mm is a good range for me but you might need thicker or thinner water will sap the heat out of your body I ready somewhere online that it does this 25 times quicker than air so wet suit good birthday suit bad.
Gloves goes without saying
A fine mesh bag handy for storing the gear when your not using it but also for holding stuff you find. Life hack alert if you have located a find and its in your hand with a bunch of dirt just fire the lot in your bag and the water will wash away the silt as you swim about.
A snorkel Flag especially if you are hunting in an area where there may be a lot of boats about.
A good thing to have is an inflatable snorkel life vest which does exactly what it says on the tin and is one of those things you won’t know you need till you need it and then it might be too late.
So the next step up in equipment is not what you think, I know you think right you go from snorkelling to Scuba and I did say that however there is a piece of equipment that sites between scuba and snorkelling and that is diving with a hookah or Snuba diving this consists a battery or gas-powered air compressor that delivers air, through a long hose called a down-line, to the diver under the water this will allow you to stay under water for up to 3 and a half hours I would recommend the battery powered versions as there has been cases where the fumes from the gas powered versions have entered the feed line resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning so not good! The benefits of Snuba are you don’t have heavy tanks to carry about, more than one diver can use one hookah system and you can stay under water for longer but with diving with a hookah you are using a regulator and similar equipment to Scuba.
Onto Scuba I can list the equipment you need but by no means am I an expert here so I will only do so briefly and I would recommend that if you want to give Scuba Diving with a Detector a try you should reach out to your nearest diving school many of which will offer try dives for a low price in your local swimming pool but remember Scuba Equipment can run into the 1000’s so be prepared to spend some coin to get on the boat.
So the equipment you will need is the following
A Diving Mask and Snorkel ,Wetsuit or Drysuit, Gloves, Fins all discussed previously.
But other equipment needed are a Scuba Tank. Regulator, Depth Gauge, Submersible Pressure Gauge and a Dive Computer again your local dive shop can recommend a safe setup here. Now I know some of you would love me to go into some depth here but There are two reason I will not go into much depth on Scuba Diving and that is firstly I am not the guy to recommend any equipment with any level of expertise to be safe while scuba diving and it would be irresponsible for me to do so and as I said previously the best finds exist in the first 4 – 6 feet of water which is well within the strata of Snorkelling but while we are talking about safety now is a good time to mention the safety to take into account.
If Scuba Diving or Snuba Diving make sure to have some form of certification such a PADI again your local dive centre can arrange that with whatever method you under take to metal detect under water it is fundamental and advised never to do so without a buddy or partner who will watch out for you and you them. You need to understand to what depth you can go how long you can stay at that depth and what to do if you get decompression sickness. So that this very simply this is where your hobby can kick you in the ass and kill you.
With under water Detecting equipment the general consensus is to go with a Pulse induction or a VLF detector that is obviously water proof to the depth you are planning to detect. Most high end detectors released these days are submergible to a depth of 3M which should be sufficient for general day to day underwater hunting providing that you make sure to maintain the seals with good quality silicon lube or whatever lube is recommended. These Seals need to support a wired connection for your headphones also and your headphones will also need to be water proof also.
If you are looking for a specific detector designed especially for diving then the Minelab Excalibar II seems to be the standard there are other models from Fisher etc available but they all seem to be specialised to a specific Terrain or target.
If you are committing to snorkelling then I can’t recommend the Nokta Makro pulse dive highly enough this is an extremly versatile scuba pin pointer. Its features such as vibration notification are all geared to make your snorkelling experience better. However it doesn’t offer Discrimination so is not efficient in helping you determine the dig no dig question but great fun for rolling about the surf picking up recently dropped jewellery. If you want discrimination then your Equinox or simplex are perfect for this.
Let’s wrap up with Site Selection and Technique. If going the whole hog and detecting while scuba diving there are several resources online outlining wreaks and site’s that you can dive and hunt but I’m afraid most are behind a paywall however in Ireland for example the national museum maintains a searchable wreak database and I’m sure your country is the same but remember that each country will have a particular law related to salvaging and recovery from wreaks so make sure to know the law of where you are diving. If Snorkelling then site selection is pretty simple it is essentially the same as beach detection go to where the people are. Popular Beachs, swimming spots, tubing locations on and on.
Up to now it has all been as you would expect get the correct equipment ensure you know how to use it pick a suitable site and start swinging, however there are some techniques that you should be aware of especially in the search and recovery of targets. When underwater you are not going to be moving as fast as you would like on land it is a very slow process with the recovery of potential good targets taking several minutes. this means that you need to be 100% sure you are going to recover that target if you start digging iffy targets then you are going to have a tiring and bad day because of this a good detector with top class discrimination is essential. You need to set your detector up with its thresholds at 100% and volume as high as it takes for you to hear above your breathing as your breathing will be quiet loud under water. Places to look while under water are potholes where finds can form a glory hole.. yes yes that’s what they are called.
Ok to recap quickly
Go snorkelling first it will probably be enough for you as most finds sit in shallow water.
If you want to Scuba or Snuba dive even make sure to do so under the supervision of an expert till you can be certified.
Get the right equipment it can be expensive especially if scuba diving.
Make sure your detector is water proof to the depth you are hunting.
If snorkelling go where the people go if scuba go to known wreak sites.
Find Recovery will take you longer than think so be prepared to only dig good targets using gre3at discrimination.
That’s it for this week’s I hope you liked this episode of the metal detecting show podcast.
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Once again, I hope you have enjoyed this episode and we will chat to you all again next week.
Get out there eyes down and Happy Hunting.