I had just got home from a recreational detecting session when I received the call for a lost gold wedding ring at Russell in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.
All the gear was still in the car so a quick battery swap and on my way.
I arrived at the scene an hour later and Nathan and his wife took me through the scenario.
Nathan had been in chest deep water at the local beach when he took the ring off his finger, I believe, to check the looseness of his new wedding ring.
Whatever the reason, fate intervened, the fingers slipped and the ring sank to the seafloor and into the sand.
Fortunately he had presence to mind to stay put and several nearby swimmers and snorkellers all had a go at retrieving it, although as we Ringfinders know all too well, rings are rather adept at quickly burrowing into the sand with any disturbance.
Shortly after, we were joined by Paul (forgive me if I have forgotten your name) who I award the title of Honorary Ringfinder.
Paul had made a mental note at the time of the initial attempts of a couple of landmarks which would help relocate the Point Last Seen. He was also game to snorkel out to find the depression in the sand from the earlier efforts and drop my marker float. This quick thinking and assistance greatly boosted the odds, and I thank him.
The tide by now was far too high to hunt without SCUBA, so I eliminated the shallows « Believe no-one, Assume Nothing, Confirm Everything » then settled in for a wait as the tide dropped.
I passed the time deflecting curious swimmers, and one jet ski, all of whom seemed intent on moving my critical marker float. Drawn to it like moths to a flame… although it was rather amusing watching the behaviours change as they spotted the marker bobbing around and changed course directly for it, only to be intercepted by a concerned RingFinder rushing into the tide to explain what it was, and to please leave it there….!
After a couple of hours, the water was just under nostril height and I could get out to the Search Area. I found the depression and was concerned by the depth of the crater formed by a well-meaning snorkeller and feared they may have disturbed the bottom enough to allow the ring to settle deep into the gravels. I checked the hole with no results so started a systematic search pattern. I would return to the crater if the ring wasn’t located.
After a few grids, there was a bright tone, I’d heard many of these today which had all turned out to be pulltabs from drink cans, but on a ring recovery you have to dig every target.
On the third bite with the scoop I shook the sand and gravel out and was left with a handful of shells – and a ring. I held it up to show Paul, who responded from the beach with a celebratory cheer.
About an hour later I managed to catch up with Nathan and Anita in Paihia for an emotional reunion.
The ring had belonged to Nathans Grandfather who never took it off following his wedding day. Nathan was continuing the tradition, and I am honoured to be able to reverse what they thought was an irretrievable loss and ensure the story of his ring can continue.