Tuesday 22 August 2017

Accidents Happen

Accidents happen, how many times have you heard that?

Well I think we are all aware of that little epithet. Usually as someone scrapes their hire-boat along your gunwale. Shouting falsehoods like 'Its a Contact Sport' which it will be if I can get my hands on you. I discovered long ago, that accidents start quite early on in life, usually around the time of conception. Though any memories of that event are thankfully vague.

Then there are also other things that we define almost as being 'Laws of Nature' that help us to reconcile the unwanted outcome. Its oft said that 'Toast always falls buttered side down." In other words and if an accident was not enough - the unintended consequences, also add another unwelcome element to the outcome.  Many years ago, I had this conversation with my then young daughter. She enquired "If toast was not buttered on one side did it spin?" We made extra toast and put it to the test. No, it does not spin, we tested the idea several times. Then we buttered one side, it was dropped to the floor and we discovered a new 'Law of Nature." Buttered toast never even hits the floor. As Paddy Murphy our erstwhile dog dashed in, grabbed it in mid air and then dashed off with the research evidence.

Boaters are no different to other people - just occasionally wetter.  But there are those who seem to want to tempt fate. Quite early on in my boating career I was advised to always empty your pockets when going on deck. In the unlikely event that you might slip and fall into the water. Things like electronic car keys, wallets containing pre-plastic notes and mobile phones have a much better chance of survival. Its such and unlikely an event is falling in, isn't it? Two people we know have actually disproved this theory by falling in within the last month. One claimed that it was for the first time in 25 years as a boater. The other has been known to do this previously - despite all the usual protestations.

I few years ago we were moored up in Thrupp on the Oxford canal. Its a popular place for the nearby cafe and to sit and watch the antics of inexperienced hire boaters. particularly when coming under a lift bridge and making a sharp turn at the same time.  There are also small boats available for hire in the same location. A stunningly attractive and well dressed young lady, accompanied by her boyfriend turned up. They decided to hire one of the small boats. The young fellow got into the boat first, without mishap. Sitting on the side, feet into the boat and then slowly transferring his weight into the boat. He then clung onto the side holding the boat into the edge, while his lady friend (she must have missed the briefing) just stepped straight into the boat.

Well to be more accurate - one leg stepped into the boat and the other remained on the side. The gap between side and boat started to widen as did her legs and with a splash, she was in an instant in the water. A couple of us gentlemen boaters (suppressing our laughter) rushed to her aid. Getting her to turn her back to the side, so that we could hold one arm each and with little effort hoist her from the water. It concluded with us, depositing her sitting on the wharf side. Where she should have been in the first place.

She was a good sport, she was quite good humoured about what had happened. She was chuckling away and shaking her head at her own predicament. Her carefully groomed hair now plastered to her face.  She sat quietly for a few seconds  in a small but growing puddle. Then she started to remove things from her pockets - car keys, and a few other things, then came a rather expensive looking mobile phone. The chuckling stopped with the realisation that her most cherished item - like the Norwegian Blue Parrot was now very much deceased and very much dead. A few boaters gathered round and brought towels to help her dry off. But her face now was filled with bitter disappointment for her much loved (and now angelically heading for mobile phone heaven) Smartphone.

But I digress.

Exposing anything electronic to water is just about the worst thing you can do. Certainly the worst thing that could happen to your smartphone is being given an unexpected bath in canal water. Now some mobile-manufacturers have started to construct water resistant phones. I have never found a true definition to 'water resistance' other than a number of metres and for a period in time. Because its only relative to what you are comparing it to and like the toast, its also subject to external circumstances. I treat such claims with a large shovel of salt. 

I am something of a sceptic when it comes to devices and the protection from external elements. I had a wristwatch that was supposed to be Static-proof, Waterproof, Anit-magnetic and Shockproof. All of which are good selling points. However, in my case the watch caught fire. Apparently it was not described in the manufacturers literature as being fireproof.

But I digress again.

I had a trawl of Google the "Internet Know-It-All" and the worlds most popular place to drop a phone into water, is apparently the toilet. Though it did not state whether that was pre or post flush. But it seems that there is now an IPR (Ingress Protection Rating) to give some idea of how waterproof your phone is. IP ratings start at IP11 all the way through to IP69. The first number tells you the protection offered against dust and dirt while the second number indicates its protection from water ingress.

Look, no matter the claims of the manufacturer. Its not a general invitation to take your phone into the sea, bath or shower with you. Its like those cork balls for your keyrings. We all have them and quite often we then ensure that there are sufficient keys attached to sink the ball with ease. So some people apply belts and braces technique and have a key float with two balls attached. However, if one ball is hard enough to accommodate in your pocket, two is practically impossible. Then there are those one-use-self-inflating key rings that are supposed to inflate like a life vest if you drop your keys in the water. Unlike one ball or two, you can't actually test them for working - without testing to destruction.

You could get a waterproof case for your phone, but the case will then add weight and size. No manufacturer so far supplies their phone with self inflating mini life vests or one or more cork balls. Smartphone waterproofing has its limits. Your waterproof seal can wear away and speakers can still sound muffled after everything dries out. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed only death and taxes.

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