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

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A Helping Hand  This is a real-world solution, and I expect correction by my betters. However, anyone whose seacocks are modern ball valves rather than the grand old tapered cone variety may care to ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more

shutterstock_698968441

Cruising: The Bahamas

“The ‘Explorer’ chartbooks. All three.” “An unlocked phone. But good luck with BTC.” “Spam. It’s ‘spensive there!” These were just a few suggestions we received from fellow sailors who had cruised the Bahamas when we asked how to best prepare for the trip. In fact, several ...read more

windsensor

Gear: B&G Wind Sensors

Sense the Wind B&G has launched a new line of wind sensors, including the WS320, a wireless system that is suitable for masts up to 80ft. Wireless wind sensor technology has been hit-and-miss, with some users reporting intermittent signal failure on tall rigs, but B&G, citing ...read more