Paul Hatto bought his first metal detector in November as a new hobby to find some interesting items.
Five months ago, Ormond Beach resident Paul Hatto bought his first metal detector. His plan was to try a new hobby and maybe find some neat stuff. He also found a new bunch of friends at the Dig and Find Coinshooters and Historical Club — and Skip Lilly’s wedding ring.
Club President Wes Wade said the find was amazing, not only because Hatto is new at the hobby, but because the ring had been lost in the muddy water of the Tomoka River four weeks before.
Helping people like Lilly is what club members do, according to Wade. The club has helped tourists find lost keys, rings and often assists local law enforcement in Daytona and Orlando in finding evidence. If a class ring is discovered, a member tries to track down the owner through school records.
Requests to find lost items are often made when a person spots someone metal detecting on the beach. The club also gets requests via Facebook, or Wade is asked while he is working at OK Pawn in Daytona Beach.
“Last year we had a 50% rate of being able to locate lost items,” Wade said. “We’ve found the past four (lost items) so it’s 100% right now. It’s difficult when something is lost in the ocean because people rarely know exactly where they lost it. Every month we are finding something for someone.”
Lilly was the exception: He knew when and where his ring slid off his finger and into the thick mud of the Tomoka.
On Saturday, March 25, Lilly and his son were returning from Disappearing Island. Lilly had been checking out campsites at Tomoka State Park, and new fishing spots, when the 5-foot Key West grounded where the river meets the basin.
Digging down in the muck to pull the anchor, Lilly lost his wedding ring in the water.
Lilly’s friend, Erik Nordstrom, had also lost his ring in the surf and a club member found it ring three months later, so Lilly decided to post a request on the club’s Facebook page.
Hatto responded, and the two returned to the spot aboard Lilly’s boat. Forty-five minutes into the search, Hatto got his first and only signal – and it was the ring. He told Lilly to drop anchor, and he plunged his scoop into the thick muck. After cleaning out the second scoop, Hatto opened his hand to reveal the ring.
“We just got really lucky that day,” Hatto said. “There were a lot of manatee and dolphin in the area. I don’t know if it was the sound of the machine or not, but they seemed like good luck.”