Any boat cruising off shore needs an emergency ditch bag for unplanned situations. Being prepared means never assuming that rescue will come before you would need things in a bag, one can never predict circumstances or weather. Having a life raft or kit that comes with your vessel may not have everything you want or need as minimal gear is all that is included so building your own insures your needs are met.
The bag should be water resistant to insure it doesn’t fill immediately with water and sink. Purchase one that is yellow or international orange and you can attach reflector strips for added visibility with a flashlight. A throw bag can be back up as needed.
Clearly label the bag so everyone on board knows what it is keep it in a handy place.
Rescue items can include:
- Functioning EPIRB (emergency position indication rescue beacon)
- Handheld VHF radio (in sealed pouch with extra batteries)
- Flares, water dyes, and/or smoke signals
- Strobe Light/flashlight
- Signal mirror
Survival Items can include:
- Water (sealed packets better than jug)
- Food rations (high calorie bars or squeeze packets)
- First aid kit
- Extra medications
- Patch kit for dinghy or life raft/ inflatable repair
Other items depending on space:
- Handheld GPS
- Solar blanket
- Fishing gear
- Life vest/inflatable PFD
Check your bag every season and before a long voyage for charged items and batteries needed. For added information on boat safety, please see the available DVD’s.