Treasure hunter scores with beach bling

2016-01-01 11:00
Jack Gallagher (left) trawls Strand beach outside Cape Town with his metal detector. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Jack Gallagher (left) trawls Strand beach outside Cape Town with his metal detector. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Treasure hunter Jack Gallagher says many people think he's crazy as he sweeps his metal detector over Strand Beach near Cape Town, hoping to scoop something shiny and valuable out of the sand.

''People have even phoned the police on me,'' he laughs. 

But, potty or not, he is the one who went home with an old gold ring and three shillings last week.

''You never know what you are going to find,'' he says."I started six years ago for the excitement of it, then I started finding bits of gold and it became much more fun.''

He has had some spectacular finds such as a diamond ring, or three coins dating back to the 1700s.

''Those coins were big and heavy. If you have three of those in your pocket you will be walking to one side. I am not surprised they fell out,'' he quips.

He explains that all you need is a metal detector, a round spade, something to carry your treasure in and a scoop to dig the bling out.

Away from the sand, you also need gloves and a sharp knife. The knife is to cut a semi circle flap at the bottom of a clump of grass to get to the treasure.

He says anybody can do it and a licence is not needed but protected areas like monuments are out of bounds because this is where only archaeologists are supposed to poke around for old things.

Treasure hunter etiquette dictates that you don't leave gaping uncovered holes or mauled grass in your wake.

The metal detector makes the search easier by emitting different tones for different metals through the headphones Gallagher wears, and also to indicate how thin the metal is.

Low tide and just after a storm in winter usually brings a good yield.

Gallagher, an animator by profession, gets excited when he finds old coins from all over the world that have been washing around in the ocean for decades. Many are are too eroded to be sold as a coin so they are separated into buckets and when the buckets are full, they go to a scrap metal dealer.

He has even found eroded brass bowls before.

He would like to go on a ship dive to treasure hunt one day, but for now he continues his search for the rings and coins swallowed up by the sea - some that are decades old, or on a good day, even centuries old.

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