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:
Updated:
Original:

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

FB-BHM-1024

SAIL Black History Month Series: James Forten

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia to free Black parents Thomas and Margaret Forten. Forten attended a Quaker school as a young child, then went to work with his father who was a sailmaker. His father died when he was still young, and Forten worked ...read more

sailme-app_ SAIL

5 Ways Sail.me Helps You Monetize Your Boat

Ready to earn some extra funds by renting out your boat or yacht? Sail.me is an interactive service that allows you to monetize your boat in a secure, safe, and easy way. A user-friendly app and website will help you manage reservations, add-ons, and set customized routes to ...read more

VendeePromo

2020-21 Vendée Timeline

As a spectator event, France’s Vendée Globe never disappoints, and the 2020-21 edition of the quadrennial round-the-world race was no exception. From equipment failures to climactic rescues, heartbreaking abandonments and a breathtakingly close finish, this edition, which ...read more

valleytrunk3

BVI Chartering in the Pandemic

The week before I flew out to the British Virgin Islands for a bareboat charter, I was having a few second thoughts. The islands had broken out of their Covid-enforced tourism hiatus in December, but the conditions of entry seemed a little stringent: a negative Covid test within ...read more

01-LEAD-windfarm

Sailing Amid Offshore Wind Farms

Here in Europe, the general feeling about green energy from offshore wind turbines has moved on after an initial surge of general skepticism. Concerns raised over cost, threats to seabirds, wind interference and the rest have to some extent been answered, and it’s hard to argue ...read more

LunaRossaPrada

VIDEO: Luna Rossa Wins the Prada Cup

The show has gone on despite last week's Covid panic in Auckland, and the "underdog" Italians are victorious. After being bested by INEOS Team UK in the round robin section, they seemed to have an uphill battle ahead of them going into the finals. However, the Italians have been ...read more

FB-BHM-Cuffe-2048x

SAIL Black History Month Series: Paul Cuffe

Paul Cuffe was born on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts, in 1759. His mother was a Native American woman named Ruth Moses, and his father was Kofi Slocum, a formerly enslaved man from the Ashanti Empire, located in modern-day Ghana. They had 10 children including Paul. His ...read more

Ryan-Finn

Point of SAIL: Ryan Finn on Solo-sailing a Proa Round Cape Horn

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with solo-sailor Ryan Finn, a veteran bluewater passagemaker looking to re-create the famed New York-to-San Francisco clipper aboard the 36ft proa, Jzerro. Although Finn was forced to abandon his first attempt ...read more