Types of Metal Detecting Activities, page 31

Equipment & Accessories Required for Scuba Detecting & Shipwreck Diving

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While selecting shipwreck diving equipment, you should remember that your goal is to stream line yourself as much as possible in order to reduce drag, permit easier swimming with less fatigue, and eliminate the possibility of becoming snagged.

Any diver should carefully plan where each piece of gear is to be placed.

All equipment must be located so it is easily accessible and will not be dangling, possibly causing the diver to get snagged.

Dangling equipment is also more likely to get damaged, and it is certainly not easily located when needed.

The selection of shipwreck treasure hunting equipment is an individual matter and can vary from one location to another. Here is a list of basic items:

Tether Line Reel
A tether line reel is used not only for penetration but as an emergency line as well as for search and recovery, and underwater mapping. In the case of limited visibility, a tether line reel can serve as a guide to and from the dive boat's anchor. If you tie knots in the line every ten feet, by counting the knots as the line is let out, you will be able to tell how far you are from the anchor or how deep into a wreck you have ventured.

Jon Line
A Jon Line is 7 to 15 feet long and attached to the anchor line for decompression and safety decompression stops. The diver or divers (up to three can use the same line) doing a decompression stop can hang onto the loose end behind the anchor line. A Jon line is used in rough water or in a current when the anchor line moves violently up and down. If you use a Jon Line in this case, you will not find yourself being lifted from your decompression stop depths, but able to maintain your depth easily.

Jersey Line
Jersey line can be used as an up line in emergency.

Line Cutters
Line cutters are becoming more popular amongst divers as they are easy to use and compact.

A compass is a navigational instrument for finding directions on land and underwater. Wrist mounted magnetic compass has to be held flat and not near anything magnetic. Some wrist mounted compasses can be used like a gun sight looking through the side window to make accurate navigation.

Main Dive Light/Torch
Main dive light should be a powerful, dependable wide beam light capable of illuminating the wreck's interior darkness. For shipwreck penetration dives, this light should have a burn time longer than the planned duration of the dive.
Dive torches that utilize the latest HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting technology are the best for diving at great depths. HID lights emit a beam of light as white as the Sun and penetrates water farther than any conventional halogen or incandescent dive light. HID lights penetrate water farther because water absorbs the red (and yellow) end of the spectrum more than the blue.

Back Up Torch
For any wreck penetration diving, a second wide-beam backup light is also needed. A smaller spot light is used to look deep into holes to help you spot artifacts. A smaller LED (light-emitting diode) torch with a 50 hr burn time is an ideal backup torch. Since the light-emitting diodes are not really bulbs, they do not burn out and will not break if you drop the light. The back of a back up torch should have a hole where you can connect a piston clip with a cable tie and hang it off a D-ring on your BCD.

Most dive strobes have both a single flash strobe light and a small torch. Usually a strobe has a strap for fitting around your wrist.

Headlamp or Head Light/Torch
Headlamp will allow you to have free hands while being able to see. Cave diving lights are excellent for head mounting. These units, with remote battery packs mounted on a harness or tanks, are extremely powerful and long lasting.

Dive Knives
It is essential for any shipwreck diver to have two dive knives: a main knife with a medium size serrated blade (serration allows easier cutting of heavy rope) and a back up knife. Dive knives may have various designs and options. For example, a solid metal butt on the handle can be used as a tap hammer. Usually treasure divers wear both knives on their legs or mount the back up knife to either the buoyancy compensator or gauge console.

Multi-pocketed Belt is used to hold small-sized finds: one pocket is for coins, one pocket is for rings and additional pockets are for fishing weights and other miscellaneous items.

Mesh Bag is used to hold all small trash that you may recover during the treasure dive. The mesh bag should be connected to the belt while diving.

Collection Crate is used for storing medium and large artifacts during the underwater search

Pingers are acoustic devices that can be attached to, or dropped on any underwater metal detecting site allowing it to be quickly and easily relocated later.

Underwater Camera is not only useful for recording the shipwreck site but also helpful for mapping the wreck and perfecting the search strategy.

Knee Pads will prevent the knee areas on your dry suit from getting damaged; thus, allowing the dry or wet suit last twice as long, which saves quite a bit of money over the course of a few seasons. Simple knee pads can be made from old car tire tubes.

Painter's Overalls can be worn over dry suit to protect it from the abrasiveness of the wrecks.

Shipwreck Diving Tools are certainly not mandatory for wreck diving, but many shipwreck treasure hunters use tools for removal of artifacts. A Sledge Hammer, Chisel, and Crow Bar are the standard set of tools used by a shipwreck explorer. The placement of each tool, or in fact, any piece of equipment is critical. If you do not reduce the weight of each tool from the amount of weight on your weight belt, you will sink like a rock. Also losing a tool may change your buoyancy during ascent.
Some heavy tools, such as monkey wrenches, car scissor jacks, hack saws, wedges, drift pins, adjustable wrenches, bolt cutters, and even pneumatic tools, may be kept on the boat until they are required for artifact removal. They then may be transported in a large tool bag. You can clip it to the anchor line and let it slide down independent of a diver.

Hand Fan or Hand Digger
A ping pong paddle can be used to fan silt or sand away from the detected find. Or you can construct your own hand fan from a curved piece of 1/8 plate stainless steel. It is cheap, easy to make, can be carried on every dive and produces good results without too much effort. It can be used to dig through the bottom mud or sand.

Lift Bag
Lift bags are used to lift up artifacts from the ocean floor to the surface. There are many sizes and styles of lift bags, but the most common is an open pillow bag having a small opening at the bottom to allow air to be blown in or let expanding air escape during ascent. The most common sizes are the 100 and 250 pound bags which can be rolled up into a compact size and will lift most artifacts.

Goodie Bag
Goodie bag or Bug bag, Game bag, Tool bag, and Catch bag as it is commonly called is simply a mesh bag that treasure divers use to carry tools and artifacts. Such a bag should be kept wrapped up and closed upon itself during the dive.

Brass snaps with a sliding gate, stainless steel locking carabineers and D-Rings are used to attach the equipment. Quick spring snaps should never be used on your gear because they can be opened unintentionally by twisting them so that their spring gates are forced open. Also these snaps will snap onto almost anything you swim by.

Marker Floats
Marker floats painted in fluorescent orange and well visible are very useful in exploring shallow wrecks that can be reached from the beach. After successfully locating the shipwreck and sending up a marker, you can search the sand surrounding the wreck or do a second dive without having to spend time relocating the site.

Air Lift
Air lift works as a vacuum and sucks sand, mud or small rocks up the pipe. It is a great excavation tool. It can be made with PVC, stainless or aluminum pipe and hooked to a suitable compressor and will move large volumes of sand with minimal loss of visibility.

Water Dredge
Like an air lift, a water dredge can vacuum the bottom and can be used if an airlift is not available. It is made from a high volume water pump, a length of tubing, and hose. Water dredge is not as effective as an air lift, but can be successfully used in shallow water up to 35 feet.

Water Jet
Water jet uses the same pump as a water dredge but blows rather then vacuums if you change the underwater attachment. Water jet must be balanced properly not to become a propulsion vehicle and push the diver. It is used for clay and other hard bottoms that are not easy to suck up with a water dredge. The drawback is that it is much harder to find small items due to the greatly reduced visibility. Usually a water jet is used first, and then treasure hunters switch to a dredge for artifact recovery.

Propulsion Vehicle
Propulsion vehicles allow to cover more ground during a dive and have been used successfully to move quickly to find more productive areas of a shipwreck. These units are also very useful for artifact digging because they can easily fan away the sand.

Dive Boat
Dive boats vary in size, style and design, depending on what type of conditions they were designed for. A dive boat may be commercial or private. The Captain of a commercial boat must be licensed and the boat must be certified for the number of customers on board. A private boat needs to be prepared for diving. It is supposed to have a dive flag, a grapple hook, granny line, current line, oxygen, medical kit, sturdy ladder, radio, depth recorder, loran C, radar, and compass – all duplicated for safety reason.

The boat operator must have the knowledge, experience and seamanship. Private boats may also have davits to hoist in heavy artifacts and tank racks to prevent damage caused by tanks rolling in a heavy sea. For new boat owners, a course given by the US Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary is recommended.

Shipwreck Metal Detecting

Happy Shipwreck Diving!

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Sources: "Shipwreck Diving", "New Jersey Beach Diver", and "Tropical Shipwrecks" By Capt. Dan Berg, www.finstrokes.com, en.wikipedia.org