The next time I tried my camera after that fateful day on the beach it didn't work. My faithful camera! Which had served me 1.5 years, which by my standards is quite a while. And on the way back from the beach by some strange coincidence Pete ended up driving behind me, and noticing my one brake light didn't work.
I survived the weekend by getting lifts from fellow cavers, and borrowing cameras from men who are mad enough to trust me with their electronic devices, but I couldn't do that forever. I had to take more drastic action.
The car issue was relatively easily fixed; I just bought the wrong light bulb, but then afterwards the right one, and it's amazing how user-friendly these old Fords are in such matters. The camera would be more of a challenge though.
Scrutiny of the camera revealed the whole front plate had started to come off; how on earth did I manage to do that? That evidently had rendered it less than waterproof, and that explained why it didn't work after having been wet, but had come back to life (which it did about a week later). But how does one solve that? The front seemed to be kept in place by 4 screws one can work with an allen key, and one with a philips scewdriver. But after purchasing small enough allen keys and scewdrivers I found out not only that these allen key bolty things don't do what you would expect, and that the front is actually also glued in place. Forget it.
That gap shouldn't be there!
I want to try to clamp the front back in position, but that may be a project for the intermediately long term. For now I've just done what I have done so, so often before: just admit defeat and get me a new camera. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT2, here I come!
ps I have an idea of how to fix this, I just haven't found the hardware for it yet... A concept clamp is in place, but I hope to find a somewhat less bulky solution!