When we decided to take the family to an overseas tropical island Mauritius was number one on our list for two reasons, it was close to South Africa and secondly I could do some metal detecting of course.
In my dreams Tropical white sand beaches, lost Rolex watches and heavy Diamond encrusted gold rings lying under the sand were a nightly occurrence leading up to the trip. Boy was I wrong.
My first problem was getting my Metal Detector there without having it damaged. I cooked up the idea of taking it on board the aircraft as a carry-on piece of luggage. This was the safest way in my eyes. I could have control over it at all times. After visiting the airport to confirm the size and weight of carry-on luggage I proceeded with my plan.
The scoop was to go in the check in luggage, it was strong and robust. I had no fear of breakages there. I use a travel scoop with detachable metal pole. The pole is a two piece split unit that fits into a regular large suitcase with ease.
We decided to take Minelab GoFind 40 and the CTX 3030 with as our hunting arsenal. The GoFind has a dedicated travel bag and it went on as hand luggage without taking it apart. The CTX was a whole different ballgame. I unassembled the whole machine and it fit perfectly into a required carry-on size suitcase. I then went to airport security prior to the flight with the bag full of CTX parts and spoke with them. No problem at all. I also took a few pictures of what the machine looks like assembled so that they knew what they were looking at. This really helped on the day of flight as it I was questioned by the X-Ray guys at security.
Mauritius has some absolutely beautiful beaches, perfect for detecting. I could not wait for the sun to rise the next day so I could get into the water at our resort (La Cannonier) as well as the neighbouring Club Med picking grounds. Beach lounges cover the dry sand and are full of sun worshipers by 9.30am. The waters are super calm and warm. You can spend five hours in the water with no problem. I did not even use my 3mm spring suit once.
My first day was slow, very slow. I found about three coins and some trash in three hours. I also saw a few holes in the water area I worked and I wrote it off to the place being hunted out by others. I moved locations within the resorts for the first five days. Every hunt produced the same terrible finds. I could not believe what was going on here. There was no way I’m coming back to this barren island I thought.
I was so despondent that I even started hunting the dry sand with a fair amount of success. There was plenty to be found in the name of coins and other trinkets. The heavy good stuff was still giving me the slip though and I was annoyed. Angelique used the GoFind on the dry sand and made a few nice finds of her own but I was convinced we were not exploring all the options.
On day five I decided to walk down the beach towards the public swimming areas without my detector to scope out the sand. As I drew closer I noticed many more people swimming than at the resort beaches. Mmmmm could this be the fault I was looking for, greater numbers? My answer was twofold. The resorts all have safes and the clever paying tourists locked everything of value away prior to entering the water, this was my first reason. The second reason was sheer volume. The swimmers at the public beaches outnumber the high end tourist beaches almost 10 to 1.
Day six and I was up prior to sunrise and at the water’s edge just as it became light. I had a kilometre of tourist beach to scour looking for a sweet spot before the masses arrived for the daily activities.
BAM, it wasn’t even five minutes and I could feel the sand under foot change from soft to rock hard. I was waist deep and the signals started sounding off in my headphones. This was what I’d been waiting for. The coins started filling my finds pouch and a moved within the hard sand zone looking for deeper targets. There had to be a sweet spot close by. It wasn’t long before that zone was found. I got a familiar tone on the CTX that gets the hair on your neck standing straight up. The numbers were in the gold zone and the target ID was stable. Boy was this signal sweet. I dug about three scoops down into compact coral sand / clay which totally clouded the crystal clear water. I could not even see 10cm down into it. I used my foot to find the hole and place the scoop and there it was. My first gold in Mauritius. An 18ct gold Hindu Goddess of wealth pendant was staring at me from the depths of my scoop. “Here we go” I thought and smiled. The gold rings came out one after another in this zone of pure bliss.
It’s not the value of the gold that excites me; it’s the sheer chase and overcoming the odds in finding it. There is nothing more rewarding in my book as a detectorist. Gold is so rare to find and when you do get into some yellow it’s a natural high.
It all came to an abrupt end as fast as it started. The signals dwindled and I turned and made pass after pass saturating this narrow corridor of finds. By that time it was 9am and I was having to dodge bathers and children. Conditions just became too challenging and I decided tomorrow is another day.
The next and final day had me in the same location at the same time hoping to give the area another workout. As luck would have it, the currents overnight brought the sand back and the area was as dead as a doornail. No deep signals, only light can slaw. This made me move on and work further down only to find surface coins and some junk. I was constantly kicking myself for not inspecting this area sooner. Five days of pounding the top tourist beaches hoping for a good find was a massive waste of time. You live and learn I suppose.
We eventually returned to South Africa with a good tally of 18, 14 and 9ct gold, 18 grams in total. Some silver chains and silver rings were also found. One of the silver chains, a heavy men’s bracelet was found while snorkelling with the kids. The detector just came along that day as fun, it just shows, you never know when you gonna run into some good stuff.
Henry Clapton January 6th, 2016
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