10 Things You CAN Afford To Get Wet
By Ann Dermody
We've all been there. That last wobbly step from the dock to your boat, legs splayed, arms laden with all the accoutrements for a day on the boat, when a small wake causes you to stagger, and… kerplunk, you hear that fateful splash. Inevitably the item you've just dropped in the drink is the most expensive/useful/irreplaceable one – that new GPS, the iPad you were looking forward to reading your charts on, your favorite sunglasses. But all may not be lost. We've compiled a list of useful items that were never destined to become interesting playgrounds for fish. They'll float, flicker, or just plain refuse to get water-damaged.
1. SealShield Washable Keyboard, Mouse, And Remote ControlA computer keyboard, mouse, or TV remote control, are not things you normally expect to survive a good dunking, but SealShield, a company that specializes in washable antimicrobial equipment, are inadvertently helping boaters with their dishwasher-safe products. If your mouse or remote can withstand several spins through the deep-clean cycle of your dishwasher (yes, we tried) it's not going to be disturbed by hitting the sludge and grunge under your boat. Even if your keyboard never falls in, it's deeply satisfying to get the toast crumbs and coffee stains out from between the G and H keys. Mice, from $34.99; Keyboards from $34.99; TV remote control, $29.99; www.sealshield.com
2. Stanley 5-Watt LED Waterproof SpotlightWhen something uses the tag line "Dip It, Drop It, Dunk It" it's all but inviting a flying kick off a dock — which I happily provided — in testing out this sturdy flashlight. True to form it still worked, even after five minutes floating with the light pointing up in a murky lake. It's fully submersible up to six feet (useful if you need to check your hull in the water) and the light also features an energy-efficient LED bulb and up to 10 hours of runtime. At several pounds, wish I hadn't been wearing flip flops when I kicked it, though.
MSRP $59.99; found at most large home improvement stores
3. G-Form: Extreme iPad SleeveWith iPad sales hovering somewhere around 30 million to date, it's fair to assume that for many boaters it's their current favorite piece of technology. So you probably don't want to drop it from a height, or get it wet. Well, while that's still not the ideal, if you buckle your baby into a G-Form Extreme iPad Sleeve, you can do either – or both, if you're especially clumsy. The sleeve looks vaguely like a Spiderman muscle suit, is water resistant, and has been proven to protect an iPad from a 12-pound bowling ball and a 500-foot airplane drop. Even if it hits the deck from the top of your megayacht, or it slipped when you were using it to read the manual while repairing your mast, chances are it'll still boot up.
4. ICOM M24 (Float n' Flash) Marine VHFIt's been five years since Icom introduced the first floating marine handheld radio, and now they're adding the bells and whistles. Well, not literally, but they have added a flashing light which means dropping this VHF overboard in the dark could be a lot less expensive, given that it's easier to retrieve. The M24 is smaller and lighter than the original M34, and the bright red light will flash when dropped in the water, even if the radio is turned off.
5. Rite In The Rain Journals And NotebooksFor the meticulous among you, there's nothing so disheartening as seeing all your carefully documented engine hours, gas prices, and lyrical waxing about where you've been, disappear from the soggy pages as your logbook dissolves when it goes overboard. That doesn't have to be the case if you start out with a waterproof journal to begin with. Rite in the Rain is a company specializing in all sorts of notebooks, journals, and sketch pads, in varying sizes that will happily take a dipping, without falling to pieces.
$5 to $20, depending on size; www.riteintherain.com
6. Aqua Box Smartphone CaseTesting this tested this tester's nerve. Of all the things we most hate to see hitting the water, it's got to be our phones, as most of us carry our lives — not to mention our music, photos, and contacts — around in them these days. But the Aqua Box proudly came through and even my trusty helper, an overzealous three-year-old who took great pleasure in hurling it off the dock, multiple times, and then dragging it, bouncing along the tarmac, couldn't defeat it. The simple twist-and-lock box with a hard outer shell and a silicone membrane that goes over the screen, allows you to use your phone as normal, while still protecting it against water, sand, and dirt. Waterproof up to almost 20 feet, it works with iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, and other touch-screen smartphones. Check their website for other phone compatibilities.
7. TITAN Primary Floating Winch HandlesBack in the old days, winch handles were mostly made out of bronze and coated with chrome. Great if you wanted to crack a coconut in the islands, not so good if they fell overboard. Now, you can get them made of glass-filled nylon or in very hard plastic, such as the Titan winch handles that come in 8- and 10-inch lengths. With a single ball-bearing grip, and lock-in mechanism, they allow as much power and leverage as the heavier ones, but they'll float if you drop them in the water. Not great for coconuts, though.
$59.99 for 10-inch handle, $57.99 for 8-inch handle; www.westmarine.com
8. Wet Circuits Power StripIf testing a smartphone underwater was nerve-wracking, getting a power strip wet, and then plugging it in, felt plain dangerous. While the unit states on the back, and on the website, that it's not for use underwater, it's happy to oblige in accidental water spills, occasional rain and snow, with wet hands, and even temporary flooding. The manufacturers warn you not to submerge it for more than two hours underwater as the protective material may wear off after prolonged exposure. It also has a child-safe and overheating protection built in, as well as spark prevention. We gave it a quick dunk, a la a giant splash, as it sat on the dock, before anxiously plugging in various electrical appliances. Happily, the unit was unperturbed and worked fine. But, boy, did it feel wrong!
9. FishGillz Floating SunglassesThe makers of these floating sunglasses estimate there are 689,797,468,322 pairs of sunglasses at the bottom of the ocean. While we think that might be a slight exaggeration, no doubt most boaters have offered up a pair, unwillingly, to the sea gods over the years. Boating and sunglasses go together like fish and water, so, in retrospect, the solution seems obvious. Make them float! Several companies, such as FishGillz, have cottoned on to this. Their lightweight, polarized, fade resistant glasses mean that if your shades come off when you're boating, surfing, water skiing, fishing, kayaking, or just cooling off, you'll have time to come back around and retrieve them.
10. WM3000RF Marine Stereo ReceiverYou won't need to create a tent city for your stereo when the waves break over your bow, if you have the splash-resistant Stereo Receiver. When your boat hits a wave, you can contentedly take a double back flip, beam-width-stagger, and not worry a jot as the stereo gets a dunking. With USB controls for iPod and iPhone; a front-panel USB input; two aux inputs; and an SD card slot behind the front panel, it's also a lean, mean sound machine. The traction for your back after the gymnastics above, however, is unfortunate.
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