Metal detectors find treasures, trash and everything in between at local beaches

Started by gash, July 14, 2018, 10:47:41 pm

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Somehow, Gina Street's metal detector seems to be a magnet for dental grills and aBatman figurines.

Her husband, Jim, once found a 1969 class ring that he returned to its owner in Atlanta after a three-month search. Jim also discovered the handle of a Samurai sword in the water at Buckroe Beach in Hampton.
Just last month, Jack Rezabek dug up a gold, diamond and ruby ring at Buckroe, to go with a bag of tent stakes and a new pile of coins that added to his 39-year total of more than 50,000. And the ring doesn't match his most valuable find: a $4,875 platinum and diamond band buried at Yorktown Beach.

Members of the Hampton Roads Recovery Society, or HRRS, have unearthed pocket knives, bullets, pieces of old foreign coins, historic military coat buttons and medals, eye glasses and even handcuffs. They've returned so many class rings that they've lost count.

"One ring had been missing for 45 years," says Barry Merrill, president of the Peninsula-based club. "For us, it's all about the thrill of the hunt, not keeping the stuff. All your eyes can see is sand, but there's this whole other hidden world."

HRRS has about 50 active members who comb local beaches with a variety of metal detectors. The club meets each month to showcase people's finds; it also hosts monthly group hunts and two annual competitions with pre-buried tokens and prizes.

Most lost items are an inch or two beneath the sand, although the range for a typical detector is about six inches. The most valuable items, especially jewelry, tend to be in the water where people have been swimming. Detectors can pick up something as small as the back of an earring, which can result in maddeningly long digs.

Predictably, coins, bottle caps, jewelry, keys, fishing baits and small toys are among the common finds. The amount is surprising, though: in a single month, Jim Street netted 16 rings while Gina dug up 11 (along with a cellphone and, of course, two Batman toys). There are always head-scratchers, too.

"We've found fabric sofa buttons," Merrill laughs. "Why would those possibly be at the beach?"

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