Electronics and Salt Water

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep.   There was that trusted morning alarm signally another day.  As with other mornings, my first thoughts after hearing the alarm was going through a mental assessment of my body.  How are the legs feeling?  How is the back feeling?  How are the arms feeling?  How are the hands feeling?  Oh yeah, I don’t seem to have any feelings in some of my fingers.  Hmmmm, should be an interesting day.  Then I would turn the light on and do my visual inspection.  Yep, the hands look better than last night since all the blisters were drained, but still have to doctor them up to get through the day.  The nails look pretty bad so pour some Listerine in the ones where the blood has dried up.  Want to keep any infection from starting.  After all that, breakfast.   And guess what?  I am still loosing weight.  Better stuff myself as much as I can stand.

We were pretty close to Daytona Beach and the paddling in this area was all in the ICW.  We had lots to see and it was very protected.  The one obvious difference of the ICW in the upper part of Florida versus down in the southern part of Florida was the attitude of the boaters.  In the northern part, they were courteous and very aware of their wakes and the impact on small boats.  They also seemed to understand the “rules of the road.”  What a novel concept.  It was a nice change from the chaos and dangers we faced in the south Florida area.  I guess folks in south Florida wanted one of us a figurehead for their vessel.

In my previous post, I talked about the music that I would listen to.  I use a lot of Apple products and they do a great job designing their equipment. Just one problem… they don’t like salt water.  In fact, most of my electronics like salt water.  Knowing this, I had tried to take precautions to protect them.  I kept my iPod in a dry bag designed for iPods.  I kept my iPhone in a pelican case designed for iPhones.  Both my primary and my backup GPS units were Garmin 78 GPS Map SC units that are designed to be waterproof and to float.  As I shared in one of my earlier posts, I am glad they do float or I would have lost it in Naples.  All those precautions were prudent, but I didn’t take into account the greenhouse effect these protective cases can be subject to.  For whatever reason, it was about this time in the UFC that most of my electronic equipment started to show the effects of operating in a salt water environment.  Only my SPOT and my VHF radio seemed to not be affected.  My iPod was the first to go.  It started to lockup, not take commands from the touch screen and then just died.  Great, no music for me.  I am left with two options…. counting waves or bugging Rod.  Then I went to change the batteries to my GPS and was taken back by what I saw. The inside battery compartment was rusting.  This was the first time I saw this but there was no question, I had a big corrosion problem.  I wondered what the inside of the unit looked like.  I needed this unit to make it at least another two weeks.  Losing the iPod was bad, the GPS was the not good, but the worst was when my iPhone died.  I have shared before that I am not much of a talker on the phone during these events.  In fact, Lisa had a lot of irritating things to pick from from that frustrated her, but probably the biggest thing that I did during the UFC that irked her was my lack of communication.  So you would think that having my iPhone die wouldn’t be the worst thing as compared to maybe my GPS, but it was.  Even though I didn’t talk long on those calls to Lisa, those calls were very important to me emotionally.  Without the phone and those daily short calls, I found myself missing her greatly.  Those hours that would have been filled with listening to music were now filled with the emotional feeling of missing her and my kids.

So what caused these problems?  Did the protective cases have leaks?  No.  The fact that they were so waterproof caused the problems.  What I think happened is that each time I opened the cases it allowed air filled with moist salt air to get inside the case.  Then, with the case closed all day and out in the heat, the inside of the case became like the inside of a greenhouse.  Hot, humid and moist air had no place to go but into the very devices the cases were designed to protect.  On the GPS units, I would try to take great efforts to use a paper towel when I was changing the batteries but again, that process allowed the air inside the battery compartment.  I also found that I had to be very careful to get the back panel attached perfectly.  Ultimately, I ended up using tape to make a double seal on this cover.  As I looked at my dead iPod  and iPhone, deep from inside my memory banks a memory of the day before the UFC while on the beach came back to me.  I was getting my stuff packed and getting organized when a very seasoned WaterTriber named “Whitecaps” came by.  He saw the protective case I had for my iPhone and said, “I don’t like those things. They cook the electronics in them.”  I thought that by keeping things dry and putting a paper towel in the cases they would be protected.  I was wrong and this was the third tip Whitecaps had dropped on me that I had ignored.  Ultimately, every one of those tips that he dropped on me that I ignored, came back to haunt me. Lucky for me all the other tips I listened to.  Oh, and for those that are wondering, I tried the rice-in-the-bag-thing to dry out the phone.  All that happened was that I ended up partially cooking a bunch of rice and a dead iPhone.  That is how much moisture was is in the air and how hot it got at times.

Daytona Beach is a pretty populated area which meant that we might find a marina to stop at. Sure enough, we found a pretty nice one.  It had a bathroom and a pretty nice store but no breakfast sandwiches.  It also had a pool that looked so inviting.  (I don’t think they would have been very accepting of two dirty paddlers jumping in their pool.)  Not having any breakfast sandwiches was not what Rod wanted to hear but they had food and cold Cokes.  Coming into the marina it was  kind of odd to have someone help with docking.  I mean we are only 18 ft long and we can pretty easily push ourselves around but folks wanted to help.  As with other locations, we were not at the location long before Rod is making friends.  Before I know it, we have a couple on a boat wanting to get web pages, tribe names and information on us and our event.  I really didn’t realize how many people were following Rod and I on the internet until I got home.  This picture was sent to my wife from someone we didn’t know who was following us. Glad they caught us paddling versus being in a restaurant stuffing our faces.

The camp site that we ended up at the end of this day was one of the best of the UFC.  It was on a nice beach island.  The wind was blowing enough to keep the bugs off but not so much to get the sand blowing.  The sky was clear, the stars were so bright, it was beautiful.   Then I got the reminder that I wouldn’t be talking to my wife.  I didn’t want her to be worrying and thankfully the SPOT was working fine.  She would at least see the “OK” message on the computer and know that I am alive.

One thought on “Electronics and Salt Water

  1. Hi Bill,
    Rick from Half Hitch here. When will you be coming thru St Augustine? Would like to say Hi!, maybe buy you breakfast or lunch at the Conch House.
    Keep up the good work!

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