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Salt Water and Electronics

Well…I considered myself lucky so far that I haven’t lost any gear due to water damage. Fortunately, we had some insurance against these types of disasters like waterproof bags by Mont Bell, waterproof cases by Pelican and the occasional zip-lock bag. One thing these waterproof bags/cases do not account for is human error/stupidity. Throughout this trip and over the past year of training, I’ve developed a really bad habit of opening my waterproof pelican case while paddling, that rests between my legs during our paddling trips, to make sure Gaia GPS (our tracking software) is active and has not drained the iPhone of all its battery. When I usually open the case, which normally contains my iPhone encased in a fairly waterproof OtterBox Case and an external battery, some drops of water always find their way inside the Pelican case. Usually, its not a big deal because it dries quickly and because it doesn’t come into contact with any electronics; however this time my case was packed to the brim with expedition gear/electronics for the expedition (Nikon J1 camera, 3 large external batteries, 10 smaller batteries, passport, money, etc) so there was much more at stake. Fast forward to the Iki/Tsushima crossing and I have the bright idea to open my case while paddling, to check the Gaia GPS application. Although my hand is slightly wet it doesn’t register as a potential problem until I see two drops of water on the top of my Nikon J1. Without thinking much of it, I attempt to wipe it off but I’m just smearing it on the camera, realizing the impending disaster that is unfolding, I close the case and decide to wait for land. Once we arrive and I open the case ,my worst suspicions are confirmed. I turn the camera on, push the shutter button and engage the auto-focus but nothing…the camera will not focus and begins to make a weird noise accompanied by a message which pops up on the screen “please see authorized Nikon repair center.” Well, there goes my $180 camera and to top it off, I reach in my PFD (life jacket), pull my personal iPhone out of my pocket to find the zip-lock bag not zip-locked and my iPhone floating in about 1 inch of sea water.