Ditch Bag Essentials - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-07-2015 Thread Starter
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Ditch Bag Essentials

You never know when weather or just bad luck (like a freight container floating in the middle of the ocean) will put a stitch in your plans and throw you into a rather undesirable outcome of needing to abandon ship.

When we go offshore we always have a ditch bag ready to go and within easy reach. Everyone on board (even guests) are required to know where it is.

In our ditch bag we have:
MREs (meals ready to eat)
canned/bagged fresh water
mirror
cell phone with solar charger and Navionics app installed for navigation (with the charts of the area we are sailing at that time preinstalled)
water distiller
towel or cloth for shade
collapsible pole spear
whistle
flares
knife
EPIRB
glow sticks

What are some things that you include in your ditch bag and why?
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-07-2015
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

This is ours...



Big Freakin? Safety Gear | SmackTalk!

I also added a solar charger and WP case for cell phones.
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Last edited by smackdaddy; 10-07-2015 at 10:08 PM.
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-07-2015
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

There are no end of ditch bag 'essential' lists out there. It also depends on the type of sailing that you're going to be doing.

Here's what I'd consider the basics:

1. Fresh water - lots;
2. Food - emergency rations and protein bars;
3. Flares;
4. Signaling mirror;
5. First aid kit;
6. Sea sickness medication;
7. VHF radio with GPS;
8. Knife;
9. Whistle.

Roger
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-08-2015
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

I have a well stocked ditch bag, but for the coastal cruising we predominantly do, its overstocked. In the US, as long as you can notify someone of your emergency, the odds that you'll float in your raft for more than a few hours are slim. Even if your EPIRB has to deploy automatically and you never made radio contact, they'll be around to check you out in under a half day, assuming there aren't other vessels in the vicinity to respond to the Pan Pan they'll issue within a half hour. I will say Coastal, for this purpose, is anything within USCG helo range, at a min. That's 150-200nm offshore.

First Aid is important. Whatever sunk your boat, may have hurt someone in the process. Water is always important, but food is nearly unnecessary, unless you might have to spend days in your raft (I have power bars and peanut butter anyway). Sunscreen is necessary. A means to communicate for sure, even better if it has the ability to broadcast or at least identify your lat/long to you, so you can tell SAR.

If you are on medications that you can't live without for a couple of days, they should be in a watertight container. Even though you should be ashore sooner, you may not be near your spares in time. For some, skipping a dose can be a serious problem. Spare prescription eyeglasses too.

The one item I rarely see, even on published lists.......... toilet paper. Seriously, think about that problem in an overcrowded raft in heavy seas. You're probably not alone either, are you..............
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Last edited by Minnewaska; 10-08-2015 at 07:02 AM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-08-2015
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

You need to adjust based on where you are sailing. We are going to be in cold water next summer, and possibly a few summers after, and need to much more concerned about hypothermia than when we were in the tropics. We are thinking of buying exposure suits, but no way they fit in the ditch bag, which is already quite full.
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After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
We are going to be in cold water next summer, and possibly a few summers after, and need to much more concerned about hypothermia than when we were in the tropics. We are thinking of buying exposure suits, but no way they fit in the ditch bag, which is already quite full.
I have foil blankets in my ditch bag. I've never used them, but they are very space efficient. Bodily warmth may need to be shared - pick your crew wisely!
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-09-2015
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

Make sure your completed ditch bag floats. Put reflectors and a painter on it.

I favor taking drinking water over many of things on that list. That and staying warm.

"...there are two kinds of opinions, those based upon tradition ... and those having something in their favor." B. Russell
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Re: Ditch Bag Essentials

Quote:
Originally Posted by aloof View Post
Make sure your completed ditch bag floats. Put reflectors and a painter on it.

I favor taking drinking water over many of things on that list. That and staying warm.
Floating is pretty important. Tethered? I'm not so sure. I would be interested in others thoughts. The raft should be tethered (to the leeward side), then filled when it hits the water. In the most calm moment (abandoning ship probably doesn't qualify), I would tread the raft painter through the handles of the ditch bag, or toss the ditch bag into the raft first. If the ship is going down, however, you need to cut it off. At least if the bag was floating out there , one might paddle over to get it. I wouldn't want the ship to drag it down.

Interested in others methods. Probably little real world testing of this one.


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