iPhone 5 rescued after being lost at sea

These kinds of stories, where cameras that get lost at sea are found and returned, are fascinating and sometimes seem unbelievable. The story in this press release for us was even more incredible since we know the people involved. It is quite the testament for Watershot‘s underwater housings for iPhone and following this we will be getting our hands on one to review soon.

Iphone 5 - Watershot case recoveredWaterShot iPhone Housing and iPhone Cell Phone displaying Lost Mode

A technological fairytale: iPhone 5 returned after two weeks at sea

When Bronwyn Holmes’s cell phone announced an unknown caller on a Saturday afternoon in May, her husband Ryan didn’t think much of it. “Another tele-salesman,” he mused.

“Hello?” Bronwyn answered. “Yes it is. You’ve what?!” she said, her eyes widening in amazement.

The call cut.

Bronwyn looked over at Holmes incredulously. “You will never guess what,” she said, her mouth stretching into a grin. “That was a man named Elton Thomas. He’s just found your phone!”

A wave of disbelief washed over Holmes. After two weeks of crashing around in the waves of the sea, someone had found his iPhone 5. Even more incredibly, it still worked. And perhaps most unbelievably of all, he was going to get it back!

A fortnight before, Somerset West-based Holmes had been the proud owner of a new iPhone 5. In a zealous moment, he had taken the  R10 000 mobile device paddle-boarding with him on the nearby Strand Beach. He had put his phone in a WaterShot iPhone 5 Underwater Housing waterproof casing. The casing would allow him to use his phone as an underwater camera, taking videos and photos in the surf. He attached it to a lightweight plastic clip on his wetsuit, something his wife had warned him against. He could still hear Bronwyn’s warning voice. “That phone will not be coming back,” she had said as he pushed out onto the waves. Sadly, she was right.

His phone had been lost to the teasing white waves of the bay. “We set up a quick search pattern, thinking that as we walked we would feel it with our feet, but soon we realised that there was no chance that we would find it,” he said. “I was frustrated that I had been so silly to attach the housing to such a flimsy clip.” Holmes and his mates had scoured the shore with sinking hearts. His phone now belonged to the ocean.

Zane and Jaun Thomas holding the WaterShot Housing and in perfect condition iPhone 5Zane and Jaun Thomas holding the WaterShot Housing and in perfect condition iPhone 5

Fast forward two weeks, to a father and his two young sons out for an early Saturday morning stroll along the beachfront. Thomas and his boys Jaun (10) and Zane (7) noticed what looked like an old broken camera lodged in the sand. “We were surprised to find it!” said Thomas, an ambulance assistant from Rusthof Strand. “We were thinking this thing must’ve come off a boat, or it was somebody diving because it had a cable attached to it. It was early in the morning, around 7am, so the only other people on the beach were those walking like us.”

Only when the Thomases got back to their car did they realise that the waterproof housing contained an iPhone 5. “The temptation to keep the phone was there,” said Thomas. “These phones cost thousands of rands. We could have sold the parts. But the boys were saying, ‘Oh daddy, this man must be really crying.’” The family could empathise with the owner of the phone, having had their laptop stolen a few months before. “When our laptop went missing, the thing we were thinking about most was the contents that we had lost. And we thought about the owner of the cell phone. He was probably still hoping, thinking maybe someone would still find it, and thinking about the stuff on the phone that he had lost,” he said.

So instead of stripping the phone, the Thomases decided to trace its owner. But in order to do that, they needed to find a contact number – and the phone’s battery had long died. “I didn’t have an iPhone charger, and none of my friends have that phone either,” said Thomas. “We decided to take it to a cell phone shop. They showed me how to take the sim card out and charged the phone up a bit.” An hour later, Thomas was phoning Bronwyn with the good news.

When Holmes was reunited with his device, the Watershot casing looked rather worse for wear. “It was all scratched up and looked ten years old,” he said. “But it fulfilled its purpose in keeping the phone dry. One of the tag lines of the watershot housing is that it is ‘designed to live in the water’. It truly lived up to that promise. This was not sitting gently in a fish bowl of water but rolling back and forth with the currents and surge knocking into rocks and being rubbed by abrasive sea sand. And it was completely protected.”

Holmes said the eyes of the two young brothers lit up when he rewarded them with cash. “I actually knew that someone would find it,” said Holmes. “But the surprise was that they actually contacted me and planned to return it. I never doubted that there were good honest people out there, but it was great to have it confirmed!”

WaterShot Underwater Housings are distributed by RAD Information Solutions (email – ryan@radis.co.za) in South Africa and are available for purchase through your local Adventure Store. If your local store does not know about WaterShot, enlighten them to the next best thing since the iPhone. The Samsung S4 option is currently in design.

Author Bio

Tristan - Founder

Founder of PhotoComment. In a relatively short space of time he has experienced the photography industry almost full circle. From camera repairs, to photographic retail, wholesale, marketing for one of the large camera brands, part time photographer and of course blogger there is hardly a moment when he is not eating, drinking and occasionally getting some sleep where photography is not involved.