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Abandoning Ship: What to put in your Ditch Bag

By Noel Swanson

Sometimes even the best equipped boats can sink Despite good seamanship, and excellent safety equipment, sometimes the unexpected can happen. It might be an engine fire, or running into a floating container, or being holed by a fallen mast or even lightening, but it can happen when you least expect it.

Of course, catamarans are much less likely to actually sink than a monohull. Mainly because they don't carry around a huge lump of lead in the form of a keel. But, even so, it is wise to be prepared in case the ultimate disaster does strike.

So, if your boat where to sink, what would you need to survive?

First, lets be clear about the goal. There are two:

1. You need to survive long enough for rescue to arrive.

2. Help needs to arrive as soon as they can.

Clearly the amount and type of equipment you need for survival depends in large upon how soon you will be rescued. With that in mind, lets look at what equipment you need:

First and most important, you need a good liferaft, otherwise you will be swimming a long, long time! Make sure you get a reliable brand, get it regularly serviced, and know how to use it and what equipment it contains.

Next, you need an abandon ship bag. This is a handy, floating waterproof bag that contains the essential items you will want onboard your life raft. Often called a grab-bag, ditch bag, ditch kit or flee bag for obvious reasons.

Make sure that your ditch bag is waterproof and that it floats. Many of them are not fully waterproof, which can be a problem if you have to through it into the sea while you are clambering aboard your liferaft.

It must also float. Normally they will, simply by virtue of the trapped air inside - but TEST it once you have packed it. And it must have a lanyard. That way you can clip it to your liferaft and then you have one less thing to think about and one less thing to lose.

On my own boat I use one of my old white water rafting dry bags. They do the job perfectly.

Once you have prepared your bag, store it where it can be easily grabbed. Don't bury it deep in one of your long term storage compartments deep in the bilges. When you need it, you need it in a hurry.

About the Author:

Ditulis oleh: Faisal Reza Siregar - Saturday, February 23, 2013

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