The first finds

I finally arrived back in South Africa on 26 December and what a pleasure it is to be back home but before I had left Dubai I sent off unaccompanied air freight which should have been delivered 5 days ago to South Africa but due to a lot of unexplained excuses it only arrived today. The one thing I realise is that having a big “FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE” statement on the box clearly means “THROW ME AROUND AS MUCH AS YOU WANT” as the box certainly looked a lot worse off than when I had sent it off on its epic journey. I was pedantic in packing the items, bubble wrapped everything securely then bubble wrapped it some more so everything actually did arrive in one piece I am happy to report.

So I put my bags containing all my clothes and photography equipment to one side and hauled out the the one thing that I had been waiting for so patiently – the Etrac… Although Christmas is over, this felt like Christmas, opening a present I so badly wanted.

Surprisingly the battery pack still contained a charge so impatiently I headed straight off to the garden. I am staying with the folks at the moment who have a big enough garden for me to search or should I rather say, destroy? You see before I left Dubai, I had gone on to e-bay and ordered one of those Lesche Diggers which looked so incredibly handy but when the item arrived at my New York shop and ship address who usually forward on to me in Dubai, they had decided that the item was a knife and that it could not be forwarded to Dubai. In the end I was forced to either pay to return the item to the seller (which I had problems with too but that is another story for another time) or for them to discard the item. So discard it was, $40 down the drain and still a Lesche digger short.

I had done a bit of research on the ferrous and conductive values of the etrac so I had some very basic knowledge of what I thought would be good numbers to dig and recover. I was surprised with the amount of metal that was being detected under the garden – remember this is after all my first time I have ever used a metal detector. I found a spot where the numbers looked good to be a coin of some sort, pin pointed the position and was just about to start digging. Just then I had remembered I had left the Garret pin pointer in the house but my dad was quite amused at this whole setup so was outside with me watching at the time, so he kept the spot while I ran back to fetch the pin pointer.

The etrac tells you how deep the item is but still being being new at this, I thought it was a lot deeper than it actually was. After one spade scoop (was in a sandy part of the garden), the Garrett quickly located the object and it was indeed a coin. My first find ever and it was a coin… super excited even though it was only 2 cents. This spurred me on for the rest of the hunts in the garden.

Since I had the setting on all metal at this stage, I decided I will actually dig up a target that is usually considered not worthwhile to dig just to see what it is. Turns out it was a rusty nail so at least I know the FE and CU values does actually correspond to what I have read up previously about the good and bad numbers and what not to dig for.

Next I found a target that was pretty deep down, so dig I did and eventually could see something shiny and silver. This wasnt small either – excitement levels went through the roof at this point. Was it a silver? Well no, turned out to be one of those old tuna or sardine cans. Had a good chuckle and tried to cover up all my mess I had made digging up. I have watched numerous youtube clips on plugging neatly and this is certainly something I am not doing – certainly trying but not getting it right which I put down to not having the right equipment aka The Lesche Digger. I am using a cheap handheld spade with a rugged edge on one side sort of like the Lesche but no where near the same quality. I also put it down to lack of experience in digging but luckily its the parents house and they dont mind me making a bit of a mess – or so they claim. Give it another day or two and I am sure I will be banned from detecting in the garden. This is something I need to get right before heading out to public places.

Further more I found tin foil, a fishing weight, a door hindge and lastly another 2 cent coin. This hobby certainly gives you a bit of a workout, the etrac is actually quite heavy and all the digging is a workout in itself but so far I am loving it and hey, its already paying for itself – 4 cents worth.

The E-trac has arrived

After working a double night shift and by night shift I literally mean I was working all through the night (22:30 to 06:30) controlling busy air traffic, it was a relief that my doorbell rang only at around 12:30 – usually the delivery guys are here bright and early at around 08:00, so although I wasnt happy to be getting out of bed, there was light at the end of the tunnel knowing who it was at the door. Besides 4 hours of sleep is plenty when you know there is a new toy to play with!

I placed the order on ebay only 8 days ago – the item needed to travel from Ann Arbor in USA to my shop and ship address in New York and from there shipped over to me in Dubai. 8 days, thats pretty impressive.

I ordered the bundle so it came with the Etrac detector, Garrett Pro Pointer, Minelab carry bag, Metal Beach Scoop, Pouch for collecting finds, a cover for the control box to protect it from dust and rain, The Minelab explorer and E-trac handbook and a Europe charger as the US one wont work here or in SA due do the difference in electrical voltages used. It arrived in one big box and was slightly worried due to the fragile nature of the detector, that perhaps something might have broken during transit but luckily all seems to be fine.

Right, time to put this thing together. All looks easy enough except for trying to get the coil wire through the shaft – if anyone has an E-trac you will know what I mean, trying to push the chord manually just doesnt work… and after much sleep deprivation and not being able to think out the box it was time for the next step, youtube “How to get the coil wire through the shaft of an e-trac”. Luckily a video popped up describing the exact problem I was facing and the solution was to tie some fishing line to the plug of the chord,  feed that through the shaft and then pull it through from the other side. Well, I dont have fishing line but I do have dental floss and that worked like a charm. Problem solved.

So E-trac was now up and running, it switched on but due to the fact that I am inside the apartment it was beeping like crazy, detecting all the pipes below the floor. So no real testing can be done but I am happy to know it works and it arrived in one piece.

I have been going through the book and yes it does seem like a lot to take in but I will get to grips with everything eventually. I have also been in email contact with Des Dunne from Minelab in Ireland who ironically happens to be mentioned in the book too, and he has also sent me some articles on the E-trac. So plenty of reading material to get me through the next couple of days.

As mentioned before, I am in Dubai at the moment but relocating back to South Africa at the end of the year. As much as I would love to go out and play with my new metal detector, this isnt the right place for it. I have no idea if its legal or not but knowing how this place works after living here for 3 years – there is no ways I am taking the risk. The problem with detecting here is the fact that no one really knows the laws as it is very uncommon so if the cop on the day thinks you doing something illegal, you gonna have a hard time getting out of it. For an example people have been arrested just for taking photos – make sure you know if there are any military buildings around before taking the picture you or you can land up in serious heat. So with only a month and a half to go, I am not taking any risks but just imagine the possibilities that lie on those beaches next to the 7 star hotel where the rich and famous play.

So the E-trac has now been disassembled and packed away ready to be shipped back to South Africa. That means this blog is going to become very quiet until after Christmas when I arrive back in SA and get to start playing again.

Until then, please browse our forums and keep on detecting.

Carlo - December 4, 2012 - 12:02 pm

you lucky…. the etrac is a good metaldetector, one of my friends had one and i had the chance to try it. wont detect very small metals like the mxt dos.

Deciding on a detector

So if you want to get into the world of metal detecting then I guess the first call of action would have to be a purchase of a metal detector.

For someone who knows absolutely jack about this hobby, this was a tough choice. I have been living in Dubai for the last 3 years but looking forward to returning back to SA at the end of the year – the reason I mention this is because I am presently in the worlds biggest shopping destination, however metal detectors are not something they have easily available here… if at all. I suppose why would one of the worlds richest countries need metal detectors anyway, if you want gold then just go and buy it – I suppose thats the philosophy here.

So that pretty much left me with ebay. The USA seem to have the best deals anyways, so why not order from there and just get it shipped to me in Dubai, seems easy enough.

I was browsing some of the international forums to try and get a feel of what a good detector for a newbie is and I would say the general consensus was a Garrett Ace 250. Yeah it seemed simple enough but to be honest I didnt like the look of it, seemed a bit plasticy and cheap looking. The cheap looking part probably has something to do with the price because it is actually quite cheap. It would appear a detector can cost anywhere from around $200 – $3000 and the Garrett definitely fell in the lower part of the price range.

My problem always is that I buy a starter product and then quickly want to upgrade to something better and better and ultimately it has cost me a lot more to get the one I really want. So I decided this time round, I am going straight for a detector that I wont need to upgrade in the near future – getting the best one I can afford. The Garrett 250 was not that!

So I found that Minelab has some great detectors and after hours of research I decide the Minelab 705 would be a great choice coming in at around $800. However, what would my main type of detecting be, land, dry sand, beach, wet sand? I really think I would be doing a lot of beach detecting and I believe the best part of the beaches would be the wet sand and just slightly into the water for the best finds. Some more reasearch and I realise the 705 is a great all round detector but better for dry sand and not great for wet sand and water detecting, so that threw that out of the equation.

Everyone keeps talking about the Minelab Etrac – wow this thing does look like a beast. Its good for dry sand, wet sand, saltwater – this thing looks good! After about reading through a gazillion reviews, this is the one I want. So order placed at around $1500 gets me the detector, a Garrett handheld probe, a beach scoop, a carry bag and handbook.

Now I am also led to believe that this is one of the most complicated detectors out there with a steep learning curve. This is definitely going to be a challenge, just learning how the the thing works never mind actually finding anything with it.

I am looking forward to it arriving so I can start learning and playing. I will get some pictures and update the blog when it arrives. Cant wait…



thecoilist - November 14, 2012 - 4:17 pm

You can’t go wrong with an Etrac. There is a LOT to learn about the machine. The best thing about not having one before buying the Etrac is the fact you don’t have that “learning curve” everyone talks about. It’s a fresh start.

Good luck!

South African Metal Detecting Forums

While I was researching for information on metal detecting in South Africa, I found that we did not have our own online community.

There are plenty of American, British and Australian sites and as nice as the international forums are, I wanted to find a place where local South African metal detecting enthusiasts could get together in order to share good locations, knowledge, finds and perhaps even arrange group hunts etc.

I could not find one, so I created one instead. Please feel free to browse or join our online community.


daniel sishaba - April 23, 2013 - 9:50 am

I bought the Saffari from minelab with the aim of finding the Treasure that was buried by my Grandfather in a farm many years ago but with that Saffari I could not locate the treasure so now I am confused, I do not know which metal detal must I buy to loacte those treasure.

admin - April 28, 2013 - 6:08 pm

The minelab safari is a good detector – I am sure if the treasure is there, the machine will find it 🙂 Good Luck

stuart kirton - November 13, 2013 - 5:48 pm


could you tell me what the best detector is to start off with?
do you recommend any second hand dealers?

thanks kindly

admin - November 30, 2013 - 9:09 am

Hi Stuart, you never know what you going to get from a second hand dealer. Could be a bargain, could be trouble! Luck of the draw…

I would recommend a Garret Ace 250, see my blog post about this here:

Gustav Bouwer - April 28, 2014 - 7:20 am

HI there Please notify me if any thing happens in South Africa.