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Old 20-12-2016, 16:28   #1
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What's in your ditch bag?

A friend of a friend had to abandon ship this year - at night - in a hurry. This was a very experienced sailor with 10s of thousands of offshore miles - but his first abandon ship. There were a few "lessons learned" that I thought I'd pass on:

1. The handheld VHF radio was stored in a handy pocket on the outside of the ditch bag. It fell out somewhere along the line. This made it impossible to talk to the CG when they got close.

2. The flashlight in the ditch bag didn't work so the CG also couldn't see them even though they were almost overhead.

3. It took 20 minutes to figure out how to turn on the EPIRB (the button didn't turn it on but finally dunking it in the water did). Remember, it was pitch dark.

4. Even though they were in not-cold water in a dinghy, they were constantly wet. They wore survival suits and felt that those may have saved their lives.
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Old 20-12-2016, 17:06   #2
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

All the normal stuff, but in addition we have Gorilla tape, a universal foam bung, we have two survival suits (not in the bag), extra EPIRB, personal EPIRB, hand held VHF, air pump and iPhone, bailing sponge and small bucket which resides in the dinghy. Two large plastic bottles of fresh water.

Our plan is to climb up into our Highfield aluminum bottom dinghy and bring the life raft. The dinghy is much more seaworthy.

I don't really understand why people feel the need to bring a Garmin GPS, our iphones have the navigation apps and GPS on them, but what good would they do anyway if we just find ourselves drifting. It's not like we can navigate, maybe just to be able to offer up our coordinates if we can reach someone on the VHF.
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Old 20-12-2016, 17:18   #3
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

A waterproofed copy of the latest edition of Playboy It gives one the incentive & will to live. And in dire circumstances serves as emergency TP. Just watch out for the staples



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Old 20-12-2016, 20:40   #4
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

These days I would also add an AIS MOB beacon. EPIRBS are fantastic, but only SAR services are likely to have the monitoring equipment installed. Almost every commercial craft has AIS these days, and may be able to receive a signal long before even VHF works.
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Old 20-12-2016, 21:33   #5
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

I can't say with certainty that it would work, but how about adecent sized kite to carry the radar reflector aloft to increase it’s effectiveness, as well as the kite’s enhancing one’s visibility. And in theory, if it’s big enough you could attach a strobe to it, or even use it as motive force (downwind). That or attach some other type of beacon to it.
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Old 21-12-2016, 05:58   #6
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
A friend of a friend had to abandon ship this year - at night - in a hurry. This was a very experienced sailor with 10s of thousands of offshore miles - but his first abandon ship. There were a few "lessons learned" that I thought I'd pass on:

1. The handheld VHF radio was stored in a handy pocket on the outside of the ditch bag. It fell out somewhere along the line. This made it impossible to talk to the CG when they got close.
To the extent possible, I consider it wise to fit everything with tethers. Our "bail out" bag is tethered to our life raft and our emergency vhf, flash lights (several LED versions), PLB's (several although we also have an ACR EGPIRB on the boat) are fitted with tethers attached to the bag with small carabiners that are easily unclipped if necessary (all float!).

Quote:
2. The flashlight in the ditch bag didn't work so the CG also couldn't see them even though they were almost overhead.
We examine the contents of our bag annually and replace the batteries in our flashlights and hand held VHF. Good quality alkaline batteries will last several years but are inexpensive enough that replacing them annually is no burden. "Rechargeable" VHF's are pretty worthless in a bail out bag. Our's uses 6-AA batteries and we have spares, also replaced at that half mark of their reported service life (usually on the packaging), stored in vacuum sealed pouches.

Quote:
3. It took 20 minutes to figure out how to turn on the EPIRB (the button didn't turn it on but finally dunking it in the water did). Remember, it was pitch dark.
Note to self/crew: Ensure that everyone understands how the equipment works. We review the methods of operation during our annual examination.

Quote:
4. Even though they were in not-cold water in a dinghy, they were constantly wet. They wore survival suits and felt that those may have saved their lives.
Since we sail in relatively warmer water, we do not have survival suits. We do have light weight wind proof jackets stored in vacuum sealed pouches and reflective Mylar foil type "emergency blankets" that are actually pretty effective at preserving heat. It is the cooling caused by evaporation that can really be harmful and needs be prevented/avoided.

In addition to the foregoing, we carry a small battery strobe and a stock of signal flares, both pyrotechnic and battery-laser, and an emergency medical kit for treating wounds. The medical supplies in the kit are also examined and replaced as necessary during the annual inspection. We also carry bottled water and, before any trip that will involve off-shore travel, we add energy bars stored in vacuum sealed pouches. Even if we're only drifting around in the raft for a short while, one needs water, particularly so if one has ingested sea water in the course of evacuating the yacht, and energy bars to allow one's body to produce heat internally.

We do our annual every spring, on the first weekend following my birthday, so it's not forgotten or delayed/deferred.

FWIW...
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Old 21-12-2016, 06:09   #7
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200gms tobacco, rolling papers, spare lighters and a small cob style pipe in case the papers get wet..
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Old 21-12-2016, 06:37   #8
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Since we sail in relatively warmer water, we do not have survival suits. We do have light weight wind proof jackets stored in vacuum sealed pouches and reflective Mylar foil type "emergency blankets" that are actually pretty effective at preserving heat. It is the cooling caused by evaporation that can really be harmful and needs be prevented/avoided...
When the SHTF..... your "light weight wind proof jackets" will be worthless and useless

Not the same as survival suits, not even remotely the same. Don't kid yourself.
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Old 21-12-2016, 06:58   #9
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
To the extent possible, I consider it wise to fit everything with tethers. Our "bail out" bag is tethered to our life raft and our emergency vhf, flash lights (several LED versions), PLB's (several although we also have an ACR EGPIRB on the boat) are fitted with tethers attached to the bag with small carabiners that are easily unclipped if necessary (all float!).

We examine the contents of our bag annually and replace the batteries in our flashlights and hand held VHF. Good quality alkaline batteries will last several years but are inexpensive enough that replacing them annually is no burden. "Rechargeable" VHF's are pretty worthless in a bail out bag. Our's uses 6-AA batteries and we have spares, also replaced at that half mark of their reported service life (usually on the packaging), stored in vacuum sealed pouches.

Note to self/crew: Ensure that everyone understands how the equipment works. We review the methods of operation during our annual examination.

Since we sail in relatively warmer water, we do not have survival suits. We do have light weight wind proof jackets stored in vacuum sealed pouches and reflective Mylar foil type "emergency blankets" that are actually pretty effective at preserving heat. It is the cooling caused by evaporation that can really be harmful and needs be prevented/avoided.

In addition to the foregoing, we carry a small battery strobe and a stock of signal flares, both pyrotechnic and battery-laser, and an emergency medical kit for treating wounds. The medical supplies in the kit are also examined and replaced as necessary during the annual inspection. We also carry bottled water and, before any trip that will involve off-shore travel, we add energy bars stored in vacuum sealed pouches. Even if we're only drifting around in the raft for a short while, one needs water, particularly so if one has ingested sea water in the course of evacuating the yacht, and energy bars to allow one's body to produce heat internally.

We do our annual every spring, on the first weekend following my birthday, so it's not forgotten or delayed/deferred.

FWIW...

What vacuum sealer do you use?
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Old 21-12-2016, 06:59   #10
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
When the SHTF..... your "light weight wind proof jackets" will be worthless and useless

Not the same as survival suits, not even remotely the same. Don't kid yourself.
Ken--Our wind jackets are wind/water proof and intended to minimize evaporative cooling. We have used others of them previously, many times, after we have gotten out of the water while out snorkeling from the dinghy and they do seem to help one stay warm and protect from excessive sun exposure. Our sailing is largely in more tropical waters and generally not further than 100 miles off-shore where SAR assets are relatively and reliably close at hand tho' hopefully never needed. Despite the foregoing, however, I do not dispute the merit of survival suits. I merely enunciated what we do for our locale.
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Old 21-12-2016, 07:09   #11
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
When the SHTF..... your "light weight wind proof jackets" will be worthless and useless

Not the same as survival suits, not even remotely the same. Don't kid yourself.
I know this may seem "excessive" to some but along the lines of what kenomac is saying......

The best way to test gear effectiveness theory vs practical use is to do a test survival situation. For example, when I worked for an Outward bound style program, all of the instructors were required to keep a 24 hour survival kit in their packs at all times. Whether it be a day hike or a long expedition. What went in them was mostly left up to the individual. Most people packed what they thought they would need and should work (i.e. 1 example is a flint for fire starting) but they never tested out using it (have you ever tried using a flint? It sucks). What I ended up doing and tried to convince others to do was go out for a 24 hour "survival" practice run with just that designated gear in a local camping area or even the woods behind your house, so bailing out was always an option for safety reasons. It is amazing how quickly you realize what you thought would work or would suffice becomes very inadequate for the situation at hand. I ended up expanding my 24 hour kit to a decent amount of gear that I had tested and knew worked.

In this application I am sure no one is going to spend 24 hours in a life raft tied up to their dock to see what they are missing, but a modified version of that may work just to see how uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, bored(attitude is everything in survival), Nicotine dependent (thinking of you boaty) and so on that you might get. Even 6 or 12 hours in a covered dinghy may be very eye opening to what else you might want or need to survive.
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Old 21-12-2016, 07:13   #12
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

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Ken--Our wind jackets are wind/water proof and intended to minimize evaporative cooling. We have used others of them previously, many times, after we have gotten out of the water while out snorkeling from the dinghy and they do seem to help one stay warm and protect from excessive sun exposure. Our sailing is largely in more tropical waters and generally not further than 100 miles off-shore where SAR assets are relatively and reliably close at hand tho' hopefully never needed. Despite the foregoing, however, I do not dispute the merit of survival suits. I merely enunciated what we do for our locale.
You are fooling yourself.

Weren't there several professional football players that died from hypothermia in your area last year or the year before when their fishing boat sank in those same warm waters?

Look at the attached photo and what my wife is wearing. On that day, the air temperature was 70 degrees and the water temp around 78 degrees. If we ever had to take to a liferaft in that sort of situation using the clothing you recommend.... we'd surely freeze to death.

I was wearing a windproof jacket with a hoody underneath at the helm, I was cold and wet, and that was with my wife feeding me hot coffee. If this happens again, next time I'll be wearing a light wetsuit.
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Old 21-12-2016, 07:22   #13
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

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What vacuum sealer do you use?
FoodSaver. It's good for sealing food stocks and pre-prepared meals for passages, spare parts, and supplies. For the items in our bail out bag, I do not remove all of the air before sealing the pouches. Leaving some entrapped air adds a measure of flotation when the bag hits the water (tried in our pool at home) and somewhat pads the contents.
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Old 21-12-2016, 07:46   #14
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Re: What's in your ditch bag?

No ditch bag here. Not ditching. Columbus did not have one either.

More seriously though, I would have in mine:

- SAR toys according to my location,
- drinking water,
- a space blanket,
- a fishing kit,
- large light orange plastic sheet,
- copies of my papers and my boat's papers.

I think you want:

1) others to know you have abandoned,
2) to get found,
3) to survive (drinking water, protection from sun, rain, wind and cold).

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Old 21-12-2016, 08:03   #15
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To my mind seeing as most sail two up (couples) with occasionally +1 and liferafts come 4-6-8-12man sizes..
Each person should have their own grab bag.. advantages are more stores (water etc), extra weight essential for life raft stability..
Skipper has the vitals, VHF, EPIRB, Tobacco etc.. the rest make up accordingly with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, basically high protein/vitamin/energy foods.. light and most come ready sealed.. extra water.. one can live without the rest for weeks.. but without water you'll soon be stuffed.
I carry a Katadyn Survivor 06 LS Manual Watermaker in my bag.. $1000 but cheap if things go bad.
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