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We had already been in St. Thomas for over a week. I wanted to hit the water and give my White’s beach Hunter ID and the Surfmaster PI. One is a VLF detector and the other a Pulse Induction detector. I had never used one of these units in the tropics. I had always used them on the Pacific side of the United States in much colder water. Our stay was not the most enjoyable at times. I was glad to get in the water and do some snorkeling with the detectors in shallow water.
Our host had dropped us off at a local beach. I had thought of doing some beach detecting and some snorkeling in the shallows. There were a few tourists around, but nothing that made it too crowded. I contented myself with running the White’s DFX around on the beach at first and finding coins and trash. It soon was hot and the sand burning, so I decided to turn my attention to the water.
The surf was down and it would be easy to run a detector in the shallows. I had been told to check out a cove on this beach as the pirates and buccaneers used to off load at this particular beach. I decided that this sandy bottom was to full of trash and to instead snorkel around the point to a very exposed reef.
Once I reached the point, I looked back to see my son happily snorkeling in the surf line of the beach. He had spotted a large reef shark there earlier, just beyond the surf line. I worked my in between coral heads and started running the detector in 5 to six feet of water.
Nothing was sounding off with my detector in this area. So I kept working my way further around the point. I would occasionally find a chunk of trash or iron junk. Another 50 feet down the reef and I finally got a decent hit. I could tell by the sound that it was a nonferrous material.
I fanned away the sand a soon had a crack exposed. I ran the detector over it again and still got the signal. I had brought a digging tool with me and I began to carefully scratch out the crack. Soon I caught the glint of gold. It was a small gold coin. I took it to the surface and examined it. It was a gold ½ escudo dated 1757.
What a beauty it was. I was ecstatic. I decided to follow this crack and was soon rewarded with more screams from the detector indicating non-ferrous material.
My next bit of fanning and digging turned up two larger coins. They were a well-worn 1781 2 escudo, and a pristine 1780 2 escudo. Three coins so far and they were all gold. I knew I was on to something great. I had reached the end of that crack and moved over a few feet to a new area and began sweeping the detector. I was soon rewarded with another great signal. I soon had a nice 1773 ½ escudo in my hands after carefully fanning out the area where the signal came from. So far I had only had to go down around 6 inches to reach my targets. I was beginning to get tired and decided to head back as it was a long swim.
It was getting late and my ride would soon be here, so I made it back and quietly showed my son the four gold coins. He was very excited and would join me tomorrow when we came back. I showed my host the coins and he was extremely excited.
We were back early in the morning and my son and I was soon paddling back around the point. I started back in the same area with no success so I decided to move over about 20 feet to the outside of the reef. It was still shallow but much sandier. I concentrated on where the sand patches met the coral heads. Soon I had a good hit and my son was busy fanning the sand away. At about 8 inches he was rewarded with the glint of gold. It was a 1786 ½ escudo.
We devised a system where I located the targets and he fanned the sand. In the next two hours we were rewarded with three more ½ escudos, another 1786 and two 1788 gold coins to add to the little red container. . We were getting tired, so we decided to give it another ½ hour and head back.
A little further on I got another signal and my son soon had a little blackened coin in his hands. I knew this to be silver, probably a ½ reale, judging from it size and shape.
I washed the silver coin in the surf and decided I had to clean it with a mild acid when we got back to the house. Our host had a mild Muriatic acid up at the place. So, we had ended up with 8 gold coins and one silver coin, after two days of snorkeling. I felt very good about this.
After cleaning in a mild acid bath and a sonic bath the silver coin turned out to be what looked like a 1790 issue. Our trip had started out with a bang and I still had shipwreck sites to dive on other islands. I was also going to go on to find a $12,000.00 diamond ring. All in the entire trip would turn out to be a huge success. Just remember my fellow treasure hunter to keep researching, searching and finding.
Gerry E. In California