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Sketched Jan. 25, 2011

I’ve seen people combing beaches with metal detectors, but never in the water — let alone in January.

Fit with waders and using equipment worth more than $1,200, Stan Schumacher and his friend Martin Peterson were focused on their search when I spotted them in Lake Washington just off Madison Park this week.

Among Schumacher’s finds that day: a rusty magnifying glass, a 1912 penny and about three pounds of rebar and junk he was taking takes home to recycle. Not much for two-and-a-half hours of work, said Schumacher, who still considers the hobby a good way to exercise and clean up the beach.

Schumacher, a metal-detecting enthusiast for 40 years, belongs to the Pilchuck and Pacific Northwest Treasure Hunting club, which has more than 50 members and is one of several clubs in the region. The club keeps a “hunt calendar” and members like to take their metal detectors to places like Alki Beach and Luna Park. Luna Park is where Schumacher found his most valuable treasure to date 15 years ago: a 1901 $5 U.S. gold coin.