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I'd also thought of getting some waterproof pannier covers, but some experienced tourers I spoke with told me that when they've tried that, if they went through a significant downpour, water would either eventually seep onto/into the bags anyway, or would get in when they removed the covers, so I took their advice and didn't go that route.
I have heard tales of such people, but to me they remain illusive as the Yeti. Toured about 11,000 miles with by Robert Beckman Designs (former partner of Bruce Gordon) non-waterproof panniers with rain covers. Never experienced those problems.
I have always just used garbage bags inside various non-waterproof panniers.
Here is a site with various manufactures recommendations on how to care for their chains: http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/archive/index.php/t-69736.html¬
The Sheldon Brown article is an old article based on chains that use to use bushings, new chains are bushingless which improves the flow of lubricant to all parts of the chain, but even back in the day all of us pulled our chains off and soaked them and reoiled with no problems but the claim is that the oil couldn't get into the tight spaces of the bushings; today I no longer pull my chains off because I'm lazy so I just use a Park Cyclone chain cleaning machine.
Anywho, Sheldon revised that earlier comments with this: http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html
"Since Bicycle chains do not have O-rings seals like Motorcycle chains have you will never have an issue with cleaning lube out of places you cannot get lube back into."Sheldon Brown had the following to say about that:
FWIW, chain manufacturers say not to soak chains in cleaner, so that original lubricant is not removed from innermost areas.
New chains come pre-lubricated with a grease-type lubricant which has been installed at the factory. This is an excellent lubricant, and has been made to permeate all of the internal interstices in the chain.
This factory lube is superior to any lube that you can apply after the fact.
Some people make the bad mistake of deliberately removing this superior lubricant. Don't do this!
The factory lubricant all by itself is usually good for several hundred miles of service if the bike is not ridden in wet or dusty conditions. It is best not to apply any sort of lube to a new chain until it is clearly needed, because any wet lube you can apply will dilute the factory lube."
Excerpted from http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html