Wet and Worried - Sail Magazine

Wet and Worried

J. Hillier of Sausalito, California, asks:"I bought what I thought was a waterproof handheld VHF radio, but when I dropped it in some water in the bottom of my inflatable it died. It was only in the water for a few seconds before I picked it up, and even though it did work for about two hours it went dead after that. What do those specifications really mean?"
Author:
Publish date:

J. Hillier of Sausalito, California, asks:

"I bought what I thought was a waterproof handheld VHF radio, but when I dropped it in some water in the bottom of my inflatable it died. It was only in the water for a few seconds before I picked it up, and even though it did work for about two hours it went dead after that. What do those specifications really mean?"

Gordon West replies:

Handheld VHF radios have a number of categories of water resistance but the most common are splash-resistant, watertight, and submersible. Usually you’ll find the description on the front of the unit. A splash-resistant handheld is the most vulnerable to water and can survive just that; a splash from any direction. It’s best to protect these units by putting them in a polyurethane waterproof pouch; the pouch will also keep help the radio afloat should it go overboard. All devices will also have either a Japanese Industry Standard (JIS) rating or an International European Community specification that defines the level of water ingress protection built into each product. Visit hy-com.com/jis.htm. for descriptions of these. If I were carrying a handheld in an inflatable, I’d probably want a unit rated at least JIS 6, which is watertight.

In your case, I suspect that though the radio’s innards were still dry, enough seawater got into the battery compartment to corrode the contact pins and knock out the unit. Always take the battery out of a radio immediately after if it gets wet, clean the battery compartment and contact pins with a cloth dampened with freshwater and alcohol, then let the unit dry completely. Clean and recharge the battery, then reinstall it in the dry compartment.

Units having the highest JIS ratings (JIS 7 and JIS 8) can be immersed for a specified period of time and still work. However, these radios should also have their battery and battery compartment cleaned and dried if they get wet. If the display begins to show some fogging, let the unit dry in the sun. Chances are good the fogging will disappear after it warms up.

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more

Sun-Odyssey-490-Bertrand_DUQUENNE-aft

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems ...read more

X3M-family

Gear: X3M Flight blocks

Block PartyThe elegance of these new X3M Flight blocks from Ubi Maior conceals the fact that they can handle loads of up to 15 tons. Designed to be used with a variety of textile loops, as fixed or snatch blocks, the X3M blocks have resin frames to carry the loops and anodized ...read more

03-BAVARIA-C34_Interior-2k_2

Ask Sail: The Right Cabin Sole Finish

Q: I am working on refinishing my cabin floorboards. I have brought them home and sanded the old finish off and would appreciate comments on using varnish or polyurethane for the sole.— Danny Love, Grand Rivers, KYDON CASEY REPLIES Polyurethane is the better choice for a cabin ...read more

shutterstock_peterisland

The Caribbean Charter Trade Rides Again

“The BVI is now a bit like it was 20 years ago,” Josie Tucci, vice president of sales and marketing for sister companies Sunsail and The Moorings, told me last December. “Instead of full bars, it may be a guy on the beach with a cooler and a barbeque, but the spirit of the place ...read more

Dragging01

Waterlines: Fear of Dragging

If you have a paranoid personality, anchoring out can be a validating experience. On the one hand, it seems rather simple. You amble up to the bow of your boat, drop a lump of metal overboard, let out some rode and secure it somehow. Then you stroll back to your cockpit and ...read more