Thursday, June 5, 2014

Some Thoughts About Protecting Your Electronics On The Water.

There once was a time when bringing your camera on the water was almost unheard of. They were delicate and expensive. Which explains why we have so few 'on the water pictures' from 'back in the day" and so many 'stringers on land' photos (that and C&R was almost unheard of).

Now we live in a time when 'everything' is a clock or camera or both.

So most of us have a camera at least and sometimes even a phone when we go fishing.

I admit the times I have a phone on the water is almost never and it does mystify me when someone doesn't leave the phone behind.

Here are the 2 times I bring a phone while fishing
1. the time I needed to call my nephew on his birthday but, knowing he was a late riser and in another time zone, I needed to wait till later
2. When ever I am lucky enough to fish mid week but still need to answer my business line.

Other wise it is stowed back at the vehicle.


By now us fly rodders should all have water proof cameras. They are cheap and plentiful enough now that there are no excuses. As well almost all shoot video.

I have 2 one I use for Video
And one I use for stills
But is water proof enough?

Well if you fish clear wade-able streams probably, but what if you are like me and fish lakes from a tube or other water craft ? 

Well then maybe it needs to be secured in another way. That water poof camera is of little use at the bottom of the lake. Now all boat owners have floating key chains so why not attach 1 or 2 (or 3) to your camera. Test it out in the shallows giving it its own PFD.

Now what if you don't have a water proof camera? Well that should fit nicely into 2 categories
1 a crappy old one that needs replacing
2 a super nice one

Many times when wading or boating I have wished I had my D200 or even D70 to take high resolution photos of what I see out there but so far I haven't had the guts! Even if I didn't care about the D70 much I'd still be worried about the lenses.

So what if you have a non water proof/resistant camera?

You should keep it in a ziplock bag until you need it. What I used to do was keep it in an open bag in my vest so I could get at it but if it rained I would zip it and not take it out no matter how big the fish.

Phones on the Water

Again I can't think of too many situations that call for a phone on the water but still
1. Get a water proof case
2. If you are on a lake get it its own PFD
3. Barring that a ziplock

Dropping the Camera or Phone in the Water

Well if you drop it in a lake and you didn't make a PFD for it then the answer is are screwed.

But if you drop it in a stream then:
1. Power it down
2. Remove the batteries (and any media card)  With cameras this is easy with most modern phones getting anything out is nearly impossible
3. Wipe off excess water 
4. Keep it in a position that allows water to flow out of it
5. Since you are not at home you can't initiate any remedies so put it in a dry pocket, wrap in a dry towel, spare sock, etc.
6. Resist the urge to turn it on.

When You Get Home

One of the most common 'remedies' is to put your device in a bag of rice. The concept seems to make sense, rice is hard but then we boil it in water and it becomes soft and water logged. Using this logic putting your wet camera or phone in a bag of pasta would gain us the same result!

But if we are going to get rid of any substance in the above remedy it would not be the rice or pasta but the bag. The plastic bag we used to keep the water off our camera and phone on the water is great for locking in freshness. Stale food is food that has loss its moisture content so your phone locked in a ziplock bag is having the moisture locked in with it and nowhere to go.

A better idea is to put it in a bowl of rice but better still lose the rice.

What you can do is turn on a fan and point it at your device while propped up to allow the water to leave. Don't use a blow dryer as it is too hot and too forceful and may push water.

Using a vacuum is an even better idea. 

The latest idea is really an old idea. Us photographers have been taking the silica gel packs that come with everything and putting them in our camera bags for years! They actually take moisture out of the air and work well in confined spaces.

In a fly related note: those Dry Fly Desiccants are made of the same stuff. You can take your silica gel pack open them up in a tube or film canister and when your fly gets waterlogged you can pop it in and a few shakes later your fly floats high (betcha you can't do that rice)

So put your device in with silica packs. 

"But I Don't Have Any Handy"

Well it is the 21st century and our lives revolve around our electronics. We bring them fishing, to the pool, in the bathroom and in the kitchen so the chances are good (bad) that you will drop it in water. Silica Crystal packs are found in every pair of shoes, jacket pockets and electronic device we buy so start collecting!

But if you don't want to bother then for pete's sake put your device in a BOWL of Rice Krispies or puffed rice as both are much better and faster desiccants than hard rice.

There are lots of 10-14 year old articles on this that involve rice in a bag so here are 2 written or updated a little more recently

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