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I need a REALLY waterproof container.


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I wonder if anyone has experience of reliable waterproof containers? I need something to withstand a depth of about 12 feet of sea water and will need to be a decent size if people are to stand a chance of finding it. I have had a look at diving and boating websites, but these containers seem designed to float and I would like room for a bit of swag as well as ballast. Any ideas would be very welcome.

 

Thanks, Ness.

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I've tried a whole bunch of things. so far, the very best for me has been these:

 

nalgene-bottle.jpg

 

nalgene water bottles, filled most of the way up with cement so they sink. They come in large sizes, and they are pretty cheap right now, since most places have them on clearance now that they "officially" give you cancer if you drink out of them. :wub: (bad for drinking from, good for caching)

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There are battery canisters for dive lights of various sizes and shapes. You'd need to use stainless hardware to block the holes intended for the light cable. They're designed to be submerged in water (including salt water) and designed to be opened and closed. I have a couple in service as caches. You must explain to cachers that the seals must be CLEAN or they will leak. They aren't cheap.

 

I think you're right to worry about an ammo can in salt water. If any other metal touches it, it'll darn near evaporate. I have seen them do well in fresh water.

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REI, Dick's Sporting Goods, and even WalMart, have a water-tight box container, But I don't know just how water-tight it really is.. (According to REI Item: http://www.rei.com/product/768989 , down to 100Ft.)

 

Either Pelican, or OtterBox is the brand name (WalMart's is under their Ozark Trail label.) I have one of the smaller ones, and I want to see if I can sink a digital camera down into a near-by pond, behind a old Dam, to do a little curiousity looking... (problem is, making it weigh enough to overcome the air inside. Cursed laws of physics!)

 

Stephen (gelfling6)

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A recent underwater cache placement plan, (which got cancelled due to numerous hornets nests near the only nearby landing site), led me to a similar search. The best I came up with was an ammo can with a Lock & Lock inside. My hide was going to be in fresh water. I have to agree with the aforementioned theory that an ammo can wouldn't last too long submerged in salt water. I'd try a Pelican or Otter box, also with a Lock & Lock inside as backup.

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My two old underwater dive light battery canister caches are both out where they are intermittently submerged in resh water. These are ancient stainless steel containers (the dive industry has long since moved to lighter cheaper plastics).

 

If I were planning a fully submerged cache, I'd go with the Alabama Rambler's suggestion. A container full of holes, fully exposed to the water, with a dive slate for a log, [and gold coins as swag =;-) ]

 

Just leaving it open to the water takes care of the whole buoyancy problem.

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Do a search for "richie wet notes"

 

those are submersible notebooks we use while scuba diving (surveying underwater cave passages etc.)

 

The pages are some sort of plastic and hold up under water perfectly..

They would make a great submerged logbook.

No need to make the container completely waterproof...

a wet cache will certainly get damp/wet from improper handling, so it's best to stay ahead of it from the start.

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I wonder if anyone has experience of reliable waterproof containers? I need something to withstand a depth of about 12 feet of sea water and will need to be a decent size if people are to stand a chance of finding it. I have had a look at diving and boating websites, but these containers seem designed to float and I would like room for a bit of swag as well as ballast. Any ideas would be very welcome.

 

Thanks, Ness.

I just did a search on these forums and came up empty, but I've seen a photo of where a guy made something that looked very promising. There were three main parts:

  1. An anchor: a plastic bucket with concrete and an eye bolt sunk into the concrete.
  2. A PVC pipe, sealed on one end and a clean-out plug on the other. The attachment point was on the clean-out plug.
  3. A water proof resistant container for the logbook and swag. I think in this case it was a peanut butter jar.

The peanut butter jar goes lid-first into the PVC pipe. The clean-out plug is inserted, tightened and attached to the anchor. Underwater, the PVC pipe will be buoyant and "stand up" with the plugged end down. If the plug leaks a little--and I seem to remember the author said it did--the water will make the peanut butter jar rise. Remember the PB jar lid is now "up" because it is opposite the PVC pipe's opening which is now inverted.

 

A couple of failure points I think would be if the cache becomes too heavy to be buoyant allowing water to reach the PB jar lid. Another would be the lid not being attached properly and coming off. (Mayhap the anchor point should be attached directly to the PVC pipe and not the clean-out plug.

 

It probably should go without saying the primary failure point of any scheme would be the human element: not putting it back properly, allowing water in as it is unsealed, not drying hands before handling contents, etc.

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Soda bottle preforms work well (at least in fresh water) - think plastic test tube.

 

I've had one submerged for a while and it has held up well. To overcome buoyancy (I did the math with a margin of error) I embedded it in a tube of concrete 2" in diameter. Sinks real well! To do this, I got a 2" mailing tube, cut it to length, poured in exterior patching cement, and then stuck the tube it (be prepared for some overflow!). Let it dry, pulled off the tube, and I was all set.

 

The other thing I did, was to embedded a long eye bolt into the cement (held in place with the duct tape).

 

As I said, submerged for several months, and all is well.

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Thanks for all the really useful replies, that last picture looks like it's been submerged in sea water to me. Do you have the cache details Kit? I'd like to see how long it's ben there. I like the idea of making the cache out of some sort of container with holes in it to overcome a range of difficulties.

 

I'd really like to include swag in it though, so would need to think about what to use that would survive. We reckon that this cache could easily take a full day to find, so would like to have some rewards for the first few people at least.

 

Out of interest, does anyone know of any caches permanenly submerged in sea water?

 

Thanks again, I think we will be able to do this after all which is pretty exciting!

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Perhaps I missed something, but I was not clear if you wanted this cache to be something that would need to be opened while underwater or something someone would pull up from above then open? If it will have swag inside my guess is it would be pulled to the surface to open.

 

As others have said a Nalgene bottle would work well, as would a Pelican case or otter box. As far as keeping it down, some lead weights tied to the string would work well for that purpose. I guess they type used in fishing would work well for that.

 

For a log book you might try something a little different like an underwater slate.

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ff6899ce-50e9-48a9-818c-fbca4e32cef2.jpg

 

I haven't thought about all the detail, but what comes to mind are PVC pipe fittings. They are designed to be watertight for pressures of many bar - from the inside out, so why will it not be as effective from the outside in. I would go for 90mm PVC with a stop glued to a piece of pipe and then a Faucet socket and threaded plug at the other end. One can put a nice fat O-ring under the rim of the threaded plug as a seal. One might have to cut a bit of the plug so that the shoulder will seat on the socket with the O-ring in between. The plugs are not normally meant to screw all the way in, so if it is full length is will become too tight before it is screwed all the way. The stop end you see in the pic has been cut (that's why it looks a bit funny) - it is a 75mm stop and is meant to fit inside the 90mm pipe - it is part of another project I am working on.

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I have thought of the pvc pipe idea. Basically you get a section of pvc pipe then glue a pvc cap on one end. Weight the open end so that it will stay up right. Use a quality container on the inside, not p.b. jar, with the lid up to keep it away from the water. There is no need to put any kind of cap or seal on the bottom end of the pvc container because the air in it will not let the water in. Try it! Put a drinking glass upside down into some water! The water will never get even close to the top. So the inner container will float on top of what little water there is in the outer container keeping the seal of the inner container high and dry! A little water will git into the container but it will only get up an inch or so depending on the depth of the water and how much the water pressure compresses the air inside. It will never get to the top! The air can only compress so much before the container would explode and that would be so deep I don't think people could get it without VERY special equipment! I have a lot of faith in my theory because I made a test rig with p.b. jars and chucked it into my pool! If the p.b.jar works then the pvc should be way better!

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How about no container at all?

 

I wrestled with this one for a bit.

Then realized that a container underwater is not even needed.

At least for decent depths requiring scuba.

 

Check out my cache in Austin, TX;

GC1HEGZ

I used a plastic chain attached to a galvanized spike.

Treasures are attached with string. :)

The large foam "S" floats!

Log book is a dive slate.

It just doesn't get any easier!

 

Details at;

http://radiosity.biz/GeoCache.html

Geo-600x396.jpg

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In my experience, Otter Boxes are the best (and they are available in a variety of sizes), followed quite far behind by Pelican boxes, which are less hardy, less durable, and less waterproof. Otter Boxes are amazing; I have even dropped them out of a helicopter onto a hard stone surfaces when emplacing a cache in a nasty and inaccessible spot, and they have survived just fine!

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I have an underwater cache placed. It has had a few finds, and has reports of being damp to almost flooded at times. The last time it was wet was the time I assisted the finder in replacing the cache, and personally cleaned and closed the seal. No underwater cache will be safe from water or moisture, unless every finder is diligent in cleaning seals and replacing exactly as found.

 

If your cache is intended to be opened at the surface, then precautions should be taken by the finder. If it is designed to be opened under the surface, then precautions should be taken by you, as in water resistant log, and ensuring that any swag is waterproof.

 

BTW, my underwater cache is an underwater video camera case, which I personally took to 107' with a camera in it, and no damage to the camera.

Edited by Mag Magician
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I've tried a whole bunch of things. so far, the very best for me has been these:

 

nalgene-bottle.jpg

 

nalgene water bottles, filled most of the way up with cement so they sink. They come in large sizes, and they are pretty cheap right now, since most places have them on clearance now that they "officially" give you cancer if you drink out of them. :) (bad for drinking from, good for caching)

 

I have an underwater cache using a 1L Nalgene bottle, and it's been holding up so far. Of course, it's in fresh water, not salt water, but the material it's made of shouldn't care. I do have everything inside in it's own Ziploc bag, just in case, and the log is waterproof, but I'd rather it just stayed dry. It started out about 10 feet underwater, but as the wet season hits, it will get deeper. Too keep it underwater, I actually have it attached to balast, 3 toilet tank floats filled with Plaster of Paris. Just so you know, it takes a little over 8 pounds of weight to keep a 1L bottle underwater, and even then, it's just barely heavier than the floatation of the bottle, so it's easy to reel up.

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Thanks again for the replies. I am still mulling over this cache as I have no plans to place it until the weather warms up! I think I will go along the lines of the chain with a few attached goodies for people brave enough to give it a go. I have a feeling not much will last very long at that depth of salt water, but could maybe replace the chain on a regular basis. I guess I will have to find a dive shop and explain geocaching to them!

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Thanks again for the replies. I am still mulling over this cache as I have no plans to place it until the weather warms up! I think I will go along the lines of the chain with a few attached goodies for people brave enough to give it a go. I have a feeling not much will last very long at that depth of salt water, but could maybe replace the chain on a regular basis. I guess I will have to find a dive shop and explain geocaching to them!

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Thanks again for the replies. I am still mulling over this cache as I have no plans to place it until the weather warms up! I think I will go along the lines of the chain with a few attached goodies for people brave enough to give it a go. I have a feeling not much will last very long at that depth of salt water, but could maybe replace the chain on a regular basis. I guess I will have to find a dive shop and explain geocaching to them!

 

We have a hydrocache that is hidden in freshwater. It's a .50 cal ammo can that has a 15 pound weight glued on the inside. We used a fishing line to anchor it to a nearby tree. It sat in depths of 3-4 feet of water for months before we disabled the cache for the winter. When we opened the cache, not a drop of water had made it past the seal of the ammo can. A small bit of rust has started to form on the outside, however, the ammo can is holding up well. I don't know if the same would be true for a cache hidden in salt water.

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Thanks again for the replies. I am still mulling over this cache as I have no plans to place it until the weather warms up! I think I will go along the lines of the chain with a few attached goodies for people brave enough to give it a go. I have a feeling not much will last very long at that depth of salt water, but could maybe replace the chain on a regular basis. I guess I will have to find a dive shop and explain geocaching to them!

 

We have a hydrocache that is hidden in freshwater. It's a .50 cal ammo can that has a 15 pound weight glued on the inside. We used a fishing line to anchor it to a nearby tree. It sat in depths of 3-4 feet of water for months before we disabled the cache for the winter. When we opened the cache, not a drop of water had made it past the seal of the ammo can. A small bit of rust has started to form on the outside, however, the ammo can is holding up well. I don't know if the same would be true for a cache hidden in salt water.

Well, I've nothing new to add except to further extol the waterproof virtues of the humble ammo can in the freshwater arena. I've had a couple of my lakeside caches be inadvertently submerged for weeks during some serious flooding we suffered here a year-and-a-half ago and I was doubly thrilled to be able to recover them and then discover that their contents had remained intact. Here's a pic of one such submerged cache location.

 

2b3dc808-f20b-44f6-a8f6-0dd2869a43fa.jpg

 

I did suffer a breach once though during another episode of flooding a few months earlier (2007 was a record year for rainfall in Oklahoma!) and I believe that was because there was a dent in the lid of the can that probably breached the seal. Here are three pics of that one after the flooding had receded. You might just be able to make out the dent in the side of the lid above the geocaching sticker in the second pic, and where a combination of Oklahoma's famous red mud and some rust has been deposited in the third pic.

 

3305c250-8567-4023-961c-c08dafd3b570.jpg

 

9a6803c3-042a-4659-8b52-018fc055cec1.jpg

 

db750d97-9fe3-41af-b469-611ac5c36d15.jpg

 

What I've learned from these experiences is that I need to find out where the high-water level might be in any lake or riverside location before placing a cache there. Most of these caches were hidden during an extended period of drought and, not being particularly familiar with the said locations myself, they had seemed to me to be quite safe at the time. I've also discovered that, at least for the closest lake in my area (Lake Arcadia) which is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, I can get detailed hour by hour information on the lake level on this website - I'm sure there are similar sites for other lakes across the country too:

 

US Army Corps of Engineers - Lake Arcadia web page

 

Finally, I've now resorted to tying my lakeside caches to adjacent trees so that, in the event of another flood event, I won't have to be picking my way through a minefield of debris to find them afterwards.

 

Oh, and before someone says something about it, I've stopped putting Swiss army knives in my caches anymore! :ph34r:

Edited by JamGuys
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Thought I had replied in this thread before but it must have been a different one. If you are able to do maintenance every 5-6 months this may work. I have an underwater cache that is a lock and lock box. I gooped up the seal with vaseline before I hid it. It makes a tight seal. It stayed dry until my last checkup on the cache. It had a little water in it but noticed all the vaseline had worn off and just had to be replaced. Easy and cheap. Note that I am unsure how it would work in salt water. You could test it in a pail of salt water though.

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Walmart sells a water tight container for about $10.00. It is mad for boating so it better be a good one.

I think I have one of those. Clear box? Hinged lid? Blue seal?

It sat in the back of my truck for a couple months, and accumulated half an inch of standing water inside.

Being "made for boating" often means nothing more than it will survive an occasional splashing. Not that it will survive submerged for months at a time.

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I wonder if anyone has experience of reliable waterproof containers? I need something to withstand a depth of about 12 feet of sea water and will need to be a decent size if people are to stand a chance of finding it. I have had a look at diving and boating websites, but these containers seem designed to float and I would like room for a bit of swag as well as ballast. Any ideas would be very welcome.

 

Thanks, Ness.

Have you thought of a "diving bell" type container? Basically, a large upturned bucket would do it. You would have to secure it on at least 3 sides, and either make some sort of shelf inside, or suspend the container from the top (bottom) of the bucket, so that it remains dry.

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I wonder if anyone has experience of reliable waterproof containers? I need something to withstand a depth of about 12 feet of sea water and will need to be a decent size if people are to stand a chance of finding it. I have had a look at diving and boating websites, but these containers seem designed to float and I would like room for a bit of swag as well as ballast. Any ideas would be very welcome.

 

Thanks, Ness.

Have you thought of a "diving bell" type container? Basically, a large upturned bucket would do it. You would have to secure it on at least 3 sides, and either make some sort of shelf inside, or suspend the container from the top (bottom) of the bucket, so that it remains dry.

Thta's an interesting idea. Like a 5 gallon bucket with a decon dangling inside it. Somehow all 3 or 4 lines would need to stay the same length though or the bucket would tip over. Hmmmm

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I found one in Brevard County Florida based on a similar concept. The water was kinda murky, so I couldn't see exactly how the mechanism was set up. It was a large paving stone, with a 8" diameter, 2' piece of PVC pipe attached, capped at the top. There was a hole near the bottom. You swam down, manipulated a lever, reached into the hole, reached up and pulled out a Thermos type cooler. The cooler floated inside the pipe. Because of its height, the lid stayed well clear of the water level. The only danger lay in possible seepage while extracting it and returning it.

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I wonder if anyone has experience of reliable waterproof containers? I need something to withstand a depth of about 12 feet of sea water and will need to be a decent size if people are to stand a chance of finding it. I have had a look at diving and boating websites, but these containers seem designed to float and I would like room for a bit of swag as well as ballast. Any ideas would be very welcome.

 

Thanks, Ness.

 

Pelican & Otter both make some very waterproof cases. Google Pelican cases, or Otter cases.

 

Thing of it is, how waterproof do you want it to be? Officially their are waterproof ratings known as IP0-ip8.

This covers a range from just getting splashed to being able to handle being submersed in water up to 100m for 3 days.

 

The more a case/container is waterproofed, the more expensive it will be. The bigger the case the more expensive it will be as well.

 

Some are made to float even when fully loaded, others are made to sink. Some are made of plastic, some are made of stainless steel.

 

TGC

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I know the logic of PVC pipes seems sound, (and I can't conceive of why it shouldn't be), but my experience as a cache finder has run contrary to the axiom. Over the years, I've found at least a couple dozen PVC pipe caches. All but one had moisture in them.

i've found four, all were wet inside. 2 had plastic bags inside to save the log from water.

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