When an advanced metal detectorist I have already interviewed suggests I interview their mentor, I take note. This is how I came across Gerard Gannon, who detects South Jersey beaches. Someone, I interviewed, who is a very skilled beach detectorist, said I have to interview Gerard for Focus Speed, stating, “He is a Gold Machine on the beach”, going on to say, he is the best he has seen when it comes to reading and detecting beaches.
Gerard has been metal detecting beaches for 25 years and currently uses the Minelab Equinox 600 and XP Deus II. My questions will be about how to read salt beaches and the best settings for the Minelab Equinox and Deus II for beach detecting. See my questions and Gerard’s answers below.
How did you get into beach metal detecting, and how long have you been doing it?
I started in 1996 as my daughter and I went to the beach one night. I have been detecting for 27 years.
Can you share with us some of your more exciting finds?
My overall best find and most exciting find is a 1776 Gold Guinea from The Fame Shipwreck Privateer Ship that sank in 1781 during a storm off the NJ coast. My 2nd best find is a 2-carat ruby ring with white diamonds surrounding the stone in 18K white gold. My 3rd favorite is a silver cobb Mexico Mexico city mint 1700s 2 reales. Last was my 1777 8 reales silver coin found on a local NJ beach.
1776 Gold Guinea from The Fame Shipwreck Privateer Ship, Found By Gerard Gannon
Tips for Detecting Wet Sand at the Beach to Find More Gold
When you detect the beach, do you prefer to do an overlapping pattern, random pattern, or spiral pattern?
Grid pattern crisscross in the hot zone or iron fields.
What kind of wet sand texture should a detectorist look for to find gold, and why?
Black sand is heavily packed with small shells & pebbles on top. The colors of sand can change from one beach to another based on location. The wetter the sand, the better & the conductivity of targets is more likely to be found. Hunt the tide out and get used to getting your feet wet. 2 hours after high tide is a key time to start your hunt.
How compact should the wet sand be?
The harder the sand, the better. After storms, upper soft sand can hold coins that are very skippable along the sand surface.
Besides a nice cut or finding sinkers, what kind of other patterns should detectorists look for in the wet sand and detect in hopes of finding more gold?
Find the iron fields and make sure your machine is tuned to hear those targets. Iron is the key to gold, platinum, lead, and other heavy metal finds. Separation in the iron can lead to many good finds. Iron is the key to unlocking treasures.
Trough or Ripple Cut, what can you tell us about them, such as where jewelry settles and how to approach detecting them?
Most beaches depend on the outflow or inflow of water into those ripple troughs. The trough does filter and holds heavy objects, but the upper lip, 12”-18″ above, can be where a lot of rings will fall.
Flat Spot or Small Washout: How do you read them and know which to detect and which to ignore?
Plateaus or flat spots can be a great hold of flip-up jewelry and should be spotted just past a sharp slope.
Are there any other tips regarding sand, water, or climates that you think our readers would benefit from knowing?
Seasoned beach hunters follow tides, beach cams, moon cycles, wind directions, how long wave heights are and their directions, erosion landmarks, flood cycles, storms, beach replenishments, and study the science of the beach. The science and timing of your beach detecting is 80% of your success. Your machine is only 20%. Students of the game with a never quit attitude will always out-detect the majority of hunters.
Wet Sand, Beach Detecting with the Minelab Equinox 600
On the Equinox, what VDI range do you dig in hopes it is gold?
-3 to 60
What setting do you like using on your Equinox for detecting the beach for jewelry?
For gold chains and small earrings, what are your tips for using the Equinox?
High sensitivity, beach 1, and dig low negative numbers with iron on.
Wet Sand, Beach Detecting XP Deus II
Which Deus II settings do you like for detecting jewelry on the beach?
I made my own program based on my location. I crank up the sensitivity, beach-sensitive program base, and always ground balance to your dry and wet sands. Noise canceling is a must, and the iron volume is up.
Any tricks on finding gold chains with the Deus II? I have heard beach detectorists struggling to find chains with the Deus II after one of the previous updates.
There are not a lot of gold chains to start with, so don’t struggle if you don’t find them. The ones you find are the ones worth keeping. Remember, iron is your friend. Happy Hunting !!
I would like to thank Gerard Gannon for his detailed overview of reading the beach to find more gold when detecting. Hope his answers increase your gold finds.
Joanna Jana Laznicka, a Czech-Canadian residing in Southern California, is passionate about all things associated with metal detecting. She mainly detects on the West Coast, from Southern California to Northern British Columbia. As the founder of Focus Speed, her goal is to bring quality content to metal detectorists.