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    Re: Dependence on GPS
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2009 Nov 01, 10:46 -0800

    Cell phones are NOT waterproof.  If you open the battery compartment on your cell phone, you'll see a small red/white polka-dot sticker.  It's a moisture detector.  Show up at a cell phone store with an under-warranty dead cell phone and the first thing they do is open the battery compartment and check the indicator.  If it shows signs of water immersion, your warranty is void.  I had a phone once that failed during the warranty period, and had a great argument with my provider because they claimed that the indicator showed slight evidence of water intrusion.  It had never been taken aboard my boat; the only thing I could figure was that it was in its belt holster while I was running between my car and my home while it was raining and it got struck by a drop of water.

    Lu Abel

    Fred Hebard wrote:
    I would expect GPS units in a wrist-watch or arm-band configuration
    would be less prone to "injury" while kayaking than deck-mounted
    units.  A cell phone or two with GPS should be sufficient electronic
    equipment for most sea kayakers, I would think.
    On Oct 31, 2009, at 9:15 AM, Apache Runner wrote:
    Frank makes a good  point about unnecessarily exposing oneself to
    risk and thereby endangering possible searcher-and-rescuers.
    There is this notion of risk homeostasis.   Mountain climbers are
    often accused of this.   It goes something like this:  "I got away
    with X last time, therefore I can get away with it next time."
    And then, they get nailed by putting themselves in some precarious
    situation.  The flip side of the coin is someone who analyzes a
    past outing for errors and corrects them.   I'm keenly aware of the
    issues of putting SAR'ers in jeopardy.
    I was in close proximity to a sea kayaking tragedy.   On Columbus
    Day weekend, 2003 (or 2004, I forget), I was kayaking in the fog
    off of Cape Cod.   The cheapy compass I was using got jammed with
    sea water, but I did have the good sense to wear a wetsuit - the
    water temperature was 55 degrees F.   Two girls went out in sea
    kayaks at exactly the same time as I was out, and they were maybe a
    half mile from me.   I used the wind and waves as a natural compass
    and hand-railed my way along the coast to get back home.   They got
    lost in the fog, and there was a two day search and rescue.   Two
    days later, they found the body of one of the girls.   The other
    was never found.
    By next spring, I had a brand new kayak and when I was paddling, I
    was about as tricked out as you could imagine.   Three compasses, a
    nautical chart, a VHF transceiver, a GPS unit, flare gun, combat
    knife (the kind SEALs use), you name it.
    Over time, I got more experience and learned that it actually is
    important to unclutter the deck of the kayak - having lost a lot of
    gear to waves, and also the junk gets in the way of rescues.    As
    mentioned, I experienced two GPS failures in conditions where I
    could've used them the most.
    My main kit now consists of a deck mounted compass, a hiker's
    compass in my PFD, a chart if in unfamiliar waters, a flare gun and
    flares, water, back-up food and protable VHF transceiver.   For
    longer trips, there's the usual camping gear, and I probably throw
    a GPS in a dry bag, but mainly as an afterthought.  In the fog,
    I'll bring a portable fog-horn.
    I've participated in six or seven rescues over the past five years,
    including 3 cases of helping motor-boaters who were lost in the fog
    and even had GPS'es.  Of course, they also had a few cases of beer.
    The main gripe about GPS'es for me is in the vein of the Charlie
    Brown comic story about Lucy and the Football.   Lucy convinces
    Charlie Brown, against all experience, to once again charge and try
    to kick the football, and she yanks it away as usual.   Last year,
    I found myself again shelling out $200 for a spiffy GPS unit.  Now
    my third -  thinking to myself "you're throwing away money...".
    This fall I'd given my students an exercise to walk from the chapel
    of the college to a tall building about a mile away and try to
    estimate the height of the steeple using the distance walked and
    the angular height.   I wanted to check the accuracy of my dead
    reckoning and brought out the $200 GPS unit to the college yard,
    and lo-and-behold - no signal.    Lucy pulled the football away again.
    There is a definite sympathy to the issue of exposing would be
    rescuers to unnecessary danger by taking imprudent risks, but my
    own experience is that the GPS receivers end up being costly
    unneeded baggage.   This is not a Luddite statement, I will
    certainly carry a VHF any time I'm out on a kayak, but my
    experience is that these tend to be more reliable and a much more
    valuable piece of equipment than a GPS unit in terms of safety.

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