Boating Life: Water Incident on Tahina

Water-proof bag

Water-proof bag

We had a boat-related disaster a couple days ago. It was a freak accident that should not have happened considering our precautions. We have a water proof bag for our electronics (cameras, phones, etc.). Whenever we get off the boat with our gear we put it in this bag and carefully put it in our dinghy. Well, as you can probably guess already, this time the system failed in an unexpected, and unlikely, way.

We had 2-3 knots of current rushing past Tahina due to tides. I was holding the dinghy so it was under Tahina’s transom (which makes it easy to get on and put stuff on the dinghy safely). Karen had her feet over the transom and was putting things down into the dinghy. The water proof bag rolls up and then two clasps attach making a convenient handle (as shown above). Karen picked it up by the clasps. Just as she was putting it on the dinghy the handle came undone and fell out of her hand. She squealed “It’s open!” and the bag hit the side of the rubber dinghy and bounced, then fell in the water.

I had no time to think what she meant about it being open. Because, at that moment I looked up to see her reaching over the side, and the boat moved. I slipped and fell in the water – wrenching my shoulder muscles when I tried to avoid falling in. I realized the bag had gone in, but I thought it was fine since its water proof. And, I was worrying about my shoulder. Karen frantically tried to grab an oar to get the bag, but the fast current made the bag drift away.

I got back on the boat, and we untied and chased down the bag with the dinghy. I grabbed it, and at that point realized the bag was open. That’s what she meant! Oh sh*t! (I actually used more words than that – I am a sailor after all.) Inside was my DSLR camera, with telephoto lens, my smartphone, and the 3G device we had bought for Internet access. All of it was wet – too wet. We quickly grabbed each piece and dried with a towel. Then got back on the boat and opened up the devices and took out batteries. All of them were wet. The camera was definitely a goner with over an ounce of water inside the body and lens. We put phone devices in a box of rice (to draw out the moisture), but there is little hope of recovery. I had some hope the phone would be ok because it was the least wet, but after a day it wouldn’t power on.

This is only the second time we have ever dropped a bag in the water. The last time was almost two years ago when we lost a laptop which got just a few drops of water on it. When you consider we take things hundreds of times a year onto the water, I guess our statistics aren’t too bad. But, the fact we were taking all the proper precautions, and still happened to have an accident in the one instant when something bad could happen, was really aggravating!

We have since gone to a town (that’s the reason why we went to Maryborough) to buy a new Internet device. It will take more time to replace the other equipment. About the only good news is that it was time to upgrade my smartphone, the telephoto lens was starting to have problems (and I wanted to upgrade it anyway), and the camera body was already 2.5 years old (essentially out of date).

Oh and another water related incident happened the day before. Our watermaker has gone kaput. It appears to be the main water pump. This has been an expensive week to say the least.

C’est la vie. These kind of things go with boating.

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5 Responses to Boating Life: Water Incident on Tahina

  1. Jeremy Miles says:

    Given that they’re kaput anyway, it might be worth rinsing everything with distilled water – it’s the salt that’s doing the damage. (I dropped a DSLR in the sea, dried it off and it was OK for a while, then the lens stopped focusing, I sent it to Canon for repair, which wasn’t cheap, but was cheaper than a new lens).

  2. Steve says:

    I concur with Jeremy. We’ve rescued some devices this way. It seems somewhat contrary but the first thing to do is to drench them in distilled water. The stuff out of your water marker (irony noted) is not too bad and better than salt water.

    Then, the devices have to be kept in rice for 3-4 days, without ever opening the container. The rice dessicates the air and the water diffuses out of the device into the air. A slow process.

  3. Roger D. Parish says:

    Definition: boat – a hole in the water into which you shovel money.
    The bigger the boat, the bigger the hole.

    Sorry for your troubles, Frank. Mr. Murphy was visiting that day.

  4. Tony Christian says:

    Bad luck Frank. Hope the shoulder is fine?

  5. Hallgrim says:

    I hope you are OK.

    This technique has been successful for me a couple of times with cell-phones, compact cameras, etc. Whatever you do, do not try to turn it on. Take all the parts out. Rinse in fresh water (tap water is OK). Dry in oven at 70C/160F for at least one hour.

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