Now to be fair, here in Central Florida, we have visitors literally from all over the world. And it appears that metal detecting along a public beach is not very common in some countries, and they genuinely want to know what you are doing, and why you are doing it? Many people stop me and ask "What are you looking for?" You can usually tell by their tone and body-language if they are really interested or just trying to distract you as they toss cut pennies or fake treasure coins behind your back. One middle-aged guy did that to my wife while we were hunting a park...I stay reasonably close to her most of the time, cause you never know, and she can get distracted during the hunt, so I keep my eyes scanning all the time. He was asking her questions, and while she was answering, I see the jerk tossing stuff in the grass behind her...usually these morons throw zinc pennies that they have cut in half or into quarters. That did not end well for him, as the Park Ranger I called over offered him one of two options; either pay a $200 fine for littering, or he could get down on his hands and knees and recover all those tiny bits of copper. I bet he wished he knew how to use a metal detector.
Usually, my beach hunting takes place on Cocoa Beach here in Central Florida, and just north of it, The City of Cape Canaveral Beach. These beaches are just south (about 3 or 4 miles) of Space-X's launch facility and draws people to watch space shots, so they are good to hunt after a launch. And I never know when they are going to launch...many times I'll be startled from a deep rumble then a bright lance of flame, as a Space-X Falcon 9 flares above the shoreline and vanishes into the sky. And I've been know to go back to metal detecting, forgetting that Space-X rocket boosters usually come home for a landing a few minutes later. More than once I've had to return to my car for clean underwear after the twin sonic booms of returning spacecraft have scared me half to death.
|Buddy Jerry Hitson asking me if I hear a rumbling sound on Canaveral Beach|
On occasion though, someone you might view as a "...watcher" or a heckler may not be what they seem. Case in point, in the middle of one week I was having a bad day and headed for the beach for a few hours of solitude metal detecting. I was having very little tolerance for "The Watchers" and descended into my curmudgeon mode; I ignore everyone, no questions asked or accepted. While detecting along Cape Canaveral Beach, a man followed me along, parallel to the beach as I scanned the wet ocean sand. I reversed course and headed south, and the guy did the same, walking at my speed, watching me as I detected. Finally, exasperated, I kind of snapped at the guy. "Is SOMETHING wrong Sir???"
He was a bit startled and said "Oh no, no, nothing is wrong. I'm on my lunch hour. I work for the City of Cape Canaveral and I just noticed you were metal detecting along the beach."
I looked at him, somewhat annoyed, still wondering what his angle was...I soon found out. He pointed to a certain stretch of beach I had passed and he said "I grew up here in the late-1950's and early 60's and that part used to be called 'Family Beach' back in the day. Hundreds of people would park their cars in that vacant lot over there and absolutely packed the beach until long after dark. They built bonfires, sang songs, cooked hot dogs and they left happy! "
He smiled then and said "Those were the days!" After talking with him a bit more he had to get back to work and I back to metal detecting. I can say, his advice was on the money, literally, and I enjoyed a lot of very nice finds there until that stretch of beach was "reclaimed" with 7-feet of sand dumped on it, then the adjacent vacant lot was bulldozed into oblivion just in time for a brand new sterile high-rise to be constructed over it, entombing any further artifacts from the past forever...well, my forever anyway. Listening to what the "watcher" had to say was gold, and he unselfishly gave that information to me, hoping I would rescue some of those lost items and bring them back into the light of the 21st Century. I learned then it is better to pause and listen for a few minutes...there may be important things to be said.
Me, my metal detector and associated gear been in a lot of photographs taken with Norwegian families, badly-sunburned English families, Japanese tourists, German and French folks on holiday, as well as Korean and Chinese tourists alike. I was as polite and informative I could possibly be and they moved on, having had an enjoyable experience that they may remember for a long time. Then again, maybe not. My point is, when you absolutely cannot avoid a conversation with the watchers on the beach, be polite, informative and friendly. I've donate fishing lures and handfuls of lead weights to beach fishermen along the shore. I can't use them and they are somewhat expensive to purchase and the fishermen are glad to get them. Several folks from out of state stopped to ask questions one day, they were very polite and friendly, and I ended up handing them a NASA medallion (costume jewelry...I'm not crazy, mind you!) I'd found as a souvenir of their visit to the Space Coast. Remember, no matter where they are from, they are still THE PUBLIC and treating the sincere ones with respect will garner respect for those of us in the hobby and the hobby in general.