phone sinking

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Waterproof or not, watching your phone go for a swim on its own is not a pleasant feeling.

That was the first thought that went through my head as I watched it slip over the gunnel: I can’t believe I just drowned another phone.

The first one was traumatizing because I was so proud of that stupid phone. It was a Motorola Razr. Not the one that came out last year; the one that was cool in 2004. (Of course, I didn’t get one until 2008.) Still, it was an upgrade for me.

I was out with my buddy Matt Baker on his Craig Cat. If you’re not familiar, it’s a micro pontoon boat. OK, basically it’s two surfboards lashed together with a couple chairs on top. But you can slap a 15-horse motor on the back and it’ll go like stink, and you can run it all day on a couple gallons of gas.

Matt and I are a couple of XL dudes, and between the two of us we increased the draft of the little cat well over what was advertised. We managed to get it stuck on a sandbar in the Skating Rink (north of the mouth of Alligator Creek). But getting unstuck would be easy: One of us just needed to go stand on the tips of the surfboards, and the other would slowly motor forward.

It was his boat, so I went up front. I have pretty good balance, so there was no problem as Matt throttled us off the bar, even though he was going a bit faster than I would have suggested. As we hit slightly deeper water, he cut the throttle abruptly — and my forward momentum planted me face-first into the water, along with the phone in my shirt pocket. Not enough rice in Burma to fix that one.

Entering the smart phone era took me a few years, but in 2011 I drowned an iPhone in an Otterbox case (that was supposed to be waterproof) when we took a wave over the bow and I got drenched.

I got another one and a better Otterbox case that was supposed to be really, really waterproof. My tests with an empty case revealed it to be completely dry after an hour sitting in 10 feet of water, so I had confidence. Way too much confidence, as that phone drowned in my shorts cargo pocket while I was wade fishing.

After that, I decided that maybe waterproof cases weren’t for me. How about a waterproof phone? My Samsung S7 (advertised as IP68 rated, which is the highest level of waterproof-ness you can buy) did not drown, and was also never in the water. But it did develop an odd quirk: If I plugged in the charging cable, I got a warning that there was water in the phone and it would not charge. Thankfully, I could use the wireless charging feature.

But the S7 is old now, so a few weeks ago I got a Samsung S20. It’s also alleged to be IP68 waterproof, but I had no plans to test that feature. Until …

I was on Capt. Mike Myers’ boat. We had just taken a radio fan on a successful tarpon charter. The boat was cleaned up and on the lift at Gasparilla Marina. I reached over the side to pull something out of the water, and the phone just jumped out of my shirt pocket and sank into 10 feet of dark water.

I will not describe the 45 minutes of trying to scoop the phone up out of the mud using a crab net with an improvised handle extension, nor the pungent aromas that came bubbling out of aforementioned mud. Suffice it to say that after some suffering, the phone was brought back to the surface.

I was afraid to try it, since I was so sure I’d just killed a phone I had owned for less than a month, but I figured I’d have to eventually. No need to worry: It’s like it never even happened. And I waited a couple weeks to write this, just in case of delayed reactions.

So apparently they’re now making phones that are much harder to kill in the water, which is great. But I do have a history of hardcore “product testing,” and red snapper season is coming. Stay tuned!

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@


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