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Old 14-07-2009, 15:11   #1
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Ideal Ditch Bag or Abandon Ship Bag

Here's a list I came up for the ideal contents of a rapid ditch bag. Interested in your comments/suggestions. THis is for an extended blue water cruise.

COMMUNICATIONS
1- Waterproof handheld VHF marine radio
2- EPIRB
3- Cellphone in protective case, charged
4- Handheld waterproof GPS
5- Flares, variety (SOLAS)
6- Storm Whistle
7- Can horn
8- Strobelight
9- Unbreakable Mirror

SURVIVAL
10- PUR watermaker
11- Flashlight, waterproof with extra batteries and lamps
12- Headlights with extra patteries
13- Binoculars
14- Extra batteries in bag
15- Water (pouches and drums)

CLOTHING/WEATHER PROTECTION
16- Sun hat
17- Sunglasses
18- Waterproof sunscreen
19- Long-johns
20- Rainsuit
21- Survival Blanket
22- Work gloves
23- towel

FOOD/HEALTH
24- can opener
25- vitamins
26- emergency food rations
27- Fishing line/hooks/rules
28- Knives (folding, fixed blade)
29- cutting board
30- plastic bottles and graduated cup
31- short gaff
32- short speargun, extra bands, shafts, heads
33- medical kit
34- diaper wipes
35- plankton net
36- toothpaste/toothbrush, soap
37- sponge

REPAIR/MAINTENANCE
38-Duct tape
39- Raft repair clamps
40- Raft glue and patches
41- inflation pump
42- clothes clips, carabiners

SAFETY
43- rope/chord/string (variety)
44- plastic bags, variety
45- Lighter
46 - bailing bucket
47- glowsticks
48- spare diving mask
49- Multitool
50- drogue

NAVIGATION
51- waterproof paper and pencils
52- charts
53- Waterproof watch
54- Handheld compass
55- plastic protractor, ruler

OFFICIAL STUFF
56- photocopy of passport, important papers, telephone nos.
57- cash

It won't all fit in one bag so I'll have to divide it up between a "really important stuff" bag and a lesser important one.
-- THanks
Cyrus Safdari
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Old 14-07-2009, 15:51   #2
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Hell, that is more than most of us take on the boat!

A ditch bag needs to be designed around what your circumstances would probably be and to the side of worst case. In some areas your chance to be recovered in less than 24 hours is high and in some very low. This results in a significant difference in what is needed.

We all want everything just in case but being practical and judicious is harder to do.
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Old 14-07-2009, 16:14   #3
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hmmm.... so you're taking two boats? one to ditch in? :>)
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Old 14-07-2009, 19:30   #4
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Well, I didn't want to be the first to mention it but as others have now said, this is more than I carry on board the the "primary" vessel.

What is good is that you are giving serious consideration to your requirements. You now have your wish list (and it is a good one). Now you have to whittle it down to essentials, then take items that do several functions. Now take only the "really essential" (about half of the "essentials") and see what will fit into a easy stowable bag.

If there is any room left, MAYBE add some more gear.

Look forward to seeing your revised list - I am about to do the same.
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Old 14-07-2009, 20:10   #5
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That all easily fits in a Pelican orange EMS case (Emergency Medical Services, like they have in ambulances etc.)

There's some items we don't have: bailing bucket, sun hats, drogue, charts, pump, sponge, gaff, speargun, cutting board, can opener (no cans to open), Towel, long Johns.

What we have extra:

- Swedish fire steel
- water proof matches
- water purification tablets
- SAS survival guide (includes @sea survival)
- insect repellent
- ampules with benzacodaine
- basic medical supplies but incl. suture & dental emergency kits, prescription pain killers, broad spectrum anti biotics and CELOX clotting agent.
- playing cards

We don't have all that in the ditch bag, there's some in the raft (like the repair patches) and we have a separate container for pyrotechnics but I think I'll put some solas rockets in the ditch bag too after reading this.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 14-07-2009, 20:55   #6
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A small blue plastic tarp, and some tarred nylon string #48 braid, would be helpful if you end up out for an extended period, or if you happen to drift up on a beach somewhere.
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Old 14-07-2009, 21:50   #7
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our ditch bag

1. two gallons of water
2. a flare kit (out of date, of course)
3. strobe
4. handheld vhf
5. a dozen powerbars
6. passport copies
7. rusty rigging knife (to cut us away from the sinking vessel)
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Old 14-07-2009, 21:55   #8
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here's the problem...

...with the 57-item ditch bag: it will make you too eager to leave the mother ship.

before I step up into the liferaft from my sinking vessel, I want to have to remind myself that I won't have access to toothpaste for a very long time.
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Old 14-07-2009, 22:30   #9
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I think it all depends on the conditions. I don't even have many of those items on many of my cruises, and certainly don't have room to store a ditch bag that size.

For coastal/Bahamas, I feel if I have something to keep me afloat, (inflatable dinghy, pfds) and someway to let people know I'm in trouble (epirb, hand held vhf) and some basics to keep me alive for the short time until help comes (drinking water), I'll make it. Add something to help people find me once close - like a handheld gps, flares, lights, etc. Other things could be nice, but are unlikely to make a difference in my survivial.

I have a little dry bag that contains a handheld vhf, handheld gps, 3 small flares, a small light and sunscreen and take some water when ever I'm anywhere remote in the dingy. I figure it's intentionally leaving the big boat in the dingy and having an outboard motor failure that is the most likely way I'll become separated from my big boat. I also throw in some swim fins. It's easier to swim those inflatables than row them. I actually did that once when I sheered a prop pin on a coral head and didn't have a spare. (lesson learned.)

If I'm stupid enough to not wear my harness and go overboard, it really doesn't matter what's tucked away in the ditch bag.

I think the reliability of 406 Epirbs really changes the potential tactics one can use to survive.
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Old 15-07-2009, 07:49   #10
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Hi all
Yes it is a lot of items and maybe the toothpaste can go but we're talking about an extended wayyyy offshore bluewater cruise. A lot of the stuff doesn't really take up much room but I admit it is a lot of stuff so I think I will divide it between the "must have" ditch bag and "everything else" ditch bag.

Based on my experience, you don't actually ditch a boat unless you're walking in water, and until then when the time really comes to ditch, there's enough time to chuck some things overboard for future use. Cases in which you have to instantly grab something and go is not the usual ditch scenario, so there's potentially enough time to chuck the "everything else" bag overboard too.

Oh and I have to admit that I am skeptical about EPIRBs - which explains my ditch bag size.
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Old 15-07-2009, 18:15   #11
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I am not big on having a ditch bag at all.

It promotes the thought of getting off the boat.

We will never leave Sea Life as the boat will have vastly more chance of survival than a rubber boat in a sea thats bad enough to get to abandon ship stage.

I am thinking more on the lines of inflating a weather balloon below to gain buoyancy.

So our ditch bag is not put together before hand. I don't want to abandon Sea Life too fast. If we really need to there will be time to toss the EPIRB and some water & food in. I don't wish to be psycologicaly preempting the boat actully sinking.


Mark
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Old 15-07-2009, 18:37   #12
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Boats are ment to float, with the finest life saving systems available from many countries a ditch bag of 3 days of food, eperb, vhf, and hand held GPS, and this is not a joke, one roll of TP should do fine, Respectfully Bill
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Old 15-07-2009, 18:52   #13
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Quote:
Ideal Ditch Bag
Everything you need is enough and everything you want is too much. If you have a bag of crap that actually lands in the raft with all the crew breathing it is - all there is. If you squeak by it was just enough. You could live with that much even if you don't feel great after. I would say that defines the ideal ditch bag. It's mostly the results.
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Old 15-07-2009, 20:54   #14
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Don't forget that big reason to get off your boat in a hurry: fire. Or being smashed on a reef or rocks during a storm at that not so safe anchorage far away from everything.

Mark: no one was ever hurt by preparing for a possible scenario. People that abandon ship too quick are not driven by the presence of an abandon ship bag but by panic. The ones that never make plans for these bad scenario's or refuse to think about it are the first ones to panic when it happens. That is one of the reasons people are pushed to practice emergency situations, like MOB maneuvers, fire in the office building, air/disaster alarm sirens etc. Training makes the auto-pilot kick in when it's for real and increases the chance to survive.

Hmm... I really only spend 14 months in the army, but this is one of the few things I learned there.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 15-07-2009, 21:24   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I am not big on having a ditch bag at all.

It promotes the thought of getting off the boat.
Mark, while essentially I agree with you, I believe there is a case to be made for a ditch bag considering the possibility of a sudden sinking.

For example, hitting a container at 3 am on a stormy night. Possible to cause a mono to sink within a minute or so. In such circumstances there would be little likelihood of saving the vessel or putting together any items already stowed on board.

On hearing (feeling) the impact, finding knee deep water in cabin within 30 secs, my drill would be bilge pumps on, hit the DSC button, crew in lifejackets, on deck, with epirb, ditch bag and raft prepared to inflate. Then if time permits, hove to and monitor the flooding below and monitor radio. If not possible to stop, then and wait until decks are awash, inflate raft etc.

Doing the drills prepares one mentally for the worst case and prevents panic (skipper or crew).
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