Always check your safety equiptment

October 06th, 2011, 12:40pm

You've heard this all too often by experienced paddlers and instructors..."Always check your saftey equiptment".  Something I try to do nearly everytime I go out.

Check your PFD for tears, broken straps, and inferior retaining clips.  Check your kayak(s) for cracks, holes, leaks, etc... Check your dry bag for expired first-aid, batteries, matches, energy bars etc... etc... etc...

With this, something unexpected happened.  My portable strobe light failed when I needed it!  At first I thought it was a dead battery so I replaced it with a fresh one (found in my drybag).  Nothing.  I did feel a rattle when I shook it around.  "Well..This isn't good!".  The need for the strobe was to warn other boaters that we were in proximity as we headed back to our put-in a little after sunset (an unexpected return).

As soon as I returned home, I took my strobe apart to determine the problem.  It was a large capacitor that snapped offer its soldered pinhole pads. I noticed that it was positioned in a way that would cause this to happen if I resoldered the capacitor in the same way it was initially soldered.  There was a design flaw.  The capacitor, as large as it is, was soldered and then bent to hover over the circuit board with a generous 1/4" gap.  This "L" shaped method leaves the trouble of velocity and vibration wearing at the soldered points over time.  To fix the problem, I resoldered the capacitor and then placed a thick rubber grommit to fill the gap and then seal the grommit in place with some rubber sealant.  This fix works like a charm and the unit is now more trouble free than its initial design. 

Princeton Tec Emergency Strobe XenonThe unit is a Princeton Tec Aqua Strobe.  I keep it strapped to my PFD shoulder strap for instant access.  Only a little over two years old when it failed.

Perhaps this design is a previous revised design or maybe it is still currently made this way.  Either way, it pays to have this checked by an electronic service technician if at all possible.  Such a device can be a major factor in a life or death situation.  In my case, I found out without incident or accidental situation but I am glad I found out either way.  I am sharing this tid bit of information, not to bash the design, but to bring the problem to your attention should you have such a product.  Some products can be reviewed for such flaws and some can not.  If you can, always check your equiptment a level deeper than your think necessary.  If you are not skilled with electronical equiptment, find someone who is.  Your life, and the others you are with, are too value to take this lightly.

On a side note:  I did have an LED stearn light ready in my hatch but the strobe would have been sufficient and readily available at the time.

Safe paddling.


Always check your safety equiptment


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