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Thread: Whats in your "Ditch Bag"?

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Default Whats in your "Ditch Bag"?

    With the purchase of our first "ocean" boat behind me I'm looking into things that I need to have ready to go come April. First on the list is a Ditch Bag. I am planning on the basics (EPIRB, VHF, First Aid, and maybe a fire device) but I'm curious what you guys are carrying. I want to keep it small as possible for ditch purposes, but I want to make sure I have all the major items covered. So, what do you guys have in your kits?

    Ron

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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    buy the survival suits first.

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    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    By ditch bag you mean survival supplies in case your boat goes down and your stranded? I'm kind of a minimalist and as far as the country I'm in, I feel I would be okay. In my skiff in my ditch 'box' I have a couple lighters, matches, flashlight, knife, handheld radio, batteries and maybe a space blanket. Compass is built in on the pelican box, with a reflective pad under the lid for signaling.

  4. #4

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    I like redundancy on a boat- in drybag: Pelican box, EPIRB, hand-held VHF, Pyro, horn, 50ft of line, small kayak folding anchor, couple MREs, space blankets, tides and currents, lighter, matches, whistle, mirror, multi-tool, knife, flashlight, strobe, dye pack, compass, old GPS and a few other things (some first aid items) I'm not thinking of off the top of my head. Would definitely like to see what others have in theirs also.

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    I really like the idea of expired flares in the bag, but Im not to sure a signal mirror will be that high on my list given the weather in the sound more times than not. Ive also read of people carrying 50' of para cord to tie people together or lashing to the boat, both good ideas IMHO. To keep the size small, I am throwing in a pill bottle with cottonballs soaked in Vaseline (a great fire starter). I like the idea of space blankets too, just have to have enough for everyone.

  6. #6

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    Sort of off topic.

    A buddy of mine was out in the sound last summer and took off headed back to Whittier and couldn't get up on step in a small boat with one bilge. Pulled the cover off the engine compartment and found a good deal of water and his bilge had shorted out. Luckily, he was with another boat that had an extra bilge pump. They put in the new pump, drained the compartment and got back without problems. He didn't tighten the plug up enough when he launched and his bilge had failed.

    So his fix for that was to dress out his bilge system so pumps could be swapped out quickly and always carry a spare. We are going though our boat this winter. We have three bilges and will be re wiring to make sure the electrical is high and dry, picking up and stowing three spare pumps and making sure we have proper capacity pumps (according to some articles I have read, lots of boats have insufficient pumping capacity because pumps are rated as they sit horizontally with no hydrostatic head pressure factored in). We are also dressing out our bilge system in a fashion that will allow easy quick access to the pumps so they can be swapped out quickly in the event of an emergency.

    Seems like a good place to put money so we hopefully never have to use the ditch bag. Keeping your pumps running might allow you to keep your boat floating long enough for help to arrive, get to the beach or at least keep it up long enough to get everything together before you abandon ship.

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    You should add a water level alarm with a light and buzzer.

    Back to the OP question.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    You should add a water level alarm with a light and buzzer.

    Back to the OP question.
    Would a on / off indicator run off the bilge switch serve? Depending on how much time we have, I can certainly understand having an additional water alarm. Although, I am not too worried because I compulsively check the engine compartment while I am on the boat.

  9. #9

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    Back to the OP: Some things that haven't been mentioned in this thread (great info BTW) that I carry include, burn gel, SAM splint, quik clot, duct tape, and saran wrap.

  10. #10

    Default food

    include some food such as power bars, peanut butter, or other high energy-compact-don't spoil stuff.

    I think if you only have one epirb & one hand held vhf you are better off wearing them on your life jacket.
    (another reason to buy floating models so they don't pull you down)

    also put the cotton balls, waterproof matches (also need waterproof striker), strobe & some flares on your life jacket

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Primus View Post
    Would a on / off indicator run off the bilge switch serve? Depending on how much time we have, I can certainly understand having an additional water alarm. Although, I am not too worried because I compulsively check the engine compartment while I am on the boat.
    How often do you check the engine compartment between dinner and waking up in the morning? There is a lot of time when you might be sleeping that water can pour in and sink your boat without you having any idea it's happening. A high water alarm is cheap and doesn't sleep.

    I know my parents have a redundant system set up for pumping. Two separate pumps, the larger of the two set higher up. Ideally the smaller pump handles everything, but it water gets up high enough to trigger the 2nd pump, it means something has happened and it will require more pumping capacity to either keep up or buy you some more time.

    One thing to make sure of, when setting up your ditch bag, make sure it is extra stuff. Don't plan to use things in the ditch bag on a regular basis. As Murphy's Law will dictate, you will only need the ditch bag when the contents of it are spread out in other places. If it is not always in the bag and ready to go, it may not do you much good that one time you do need it. Definitely have firestarter and signaling equipment. Make sure it is firestarter that will function fairly well when wet and be able to get wet material to burn. Things rarely go wrong when it is nice, dry, and sunny.

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    Supporting Member Hoyt-Hunter's Avatar
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    To add to all life jackets or survival suits is whistle, signal mirror, strobe light, aluminum snap link, 25 ft of 550 cord secured to snap link with fist size bolen on each end and stowed for easy access and a knife.

    Good idea to have the EPIRB and VHF radio on you life vest/ suit. Will implement that the next time I'm out.

    I also add water bottles, 1 per passenger, in throw out bag that has 25 foot of rope attached by Velcro on the outside and stowed to minimize snagging on deployment. Small tarp and bunker cords are also in the bag with much of what is mentioned above.


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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    EPIRB seems kinda big to have on a life vest, at least one that I am going to wear around the boat.

    For me, the ditch bag will be by the back door, the exit, should something happen fast that requires a fast exit. I like the addition of a small tarp, would be good if you had to spend the night before help could arrive.

  14. #14

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    EPIRB seems kinda big to have on a life vest, at least one that I am going to wear around the boat.
    Ronster,

    We carry a Personal Locator Beacon, PLB, which is not as big as an EPIRP. In fact the newer PLB's are half the size of the one I have. Here is a link to check them out: http://www.acrartex.com/products/cat...cator-beacons/

    Side note, I put an old Garmin XL12 GPS, which I had sitting around, in our ditch bag so I have access to lat/long coordinates in a non-life/death situation where I want to relay my exact location to someone via a handheld VHF radio. I take my ditch bag to shore with me when I go exploring on land in case I can not get back to the boat.

    Doug

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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    EPIRB seems kinda big to have on a life vest, at least one that I am going to wear around the boat.

    For me, the ditch bag will be by the back door, the exit, should something happen fast that requires a fast exit. I like the addition of a small tarp, would be good if you had to spend the night before help could arrive.
    Here's my PLB i put the bungee on it so i can throw it on over my head/shoulder just before i put the survival suit on. AND REMEMBER to put some plastic bags in with the suit to put over your boots/feet to let the suit slide on easier.
    20140114_142547[1].jpg

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    Water is always important. One way is by using a vacuum sealer. Several smaller pouches of water in a light weight container is a great way to have water available in a pinch.
    Life is to short, live life to the fullest

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Interesting, I never really thought about a PLB over an EPIRB. As a matter of fact I didnt really know the difference until I just read up on them. Only downside seems to be that not all of them float, and they have to be held out of the water to transmit. Pro's are they can be used from boat to boat as they are registered to a person insead of the boat, and it can be used on land and water where an EPIRB is usually used on water only due to the before mentioned reason of being registered to a boat. Any specific reason why you went with the PLB over the EPIRB PB?

    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    Here's my PLB i put the bungee on it so i can throw it on over my head/shoulder just before i put the survival suit on. AND REMEMBER to put some plastic bags in with the suit to put over your boots/feet to let the suit slide on easier.
    20140114_142547[1].jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    Interesting, I never really thought about a PLB over an EPIRB. As a matter of fact I didnt really know the difference until I just read up on them. Only downside seems to be that not all of them float, and they have to be held out of the water to transmit. Pro's are they can be used from boat to boat as they are registered to a person insead of the boat, and it can be used on land and water where an EPIRB is usually used on water only due to the before mentioned reason of being registered to a boat. Any specific reason why you went with the PLB over the EPIRB PB?
    1st reason is a boat has to sink aprox 15' before the epirb will release, i've seen to many guys die on the copper river flats cause the boat only flipped over and didn't sink they were either trapped in the cabin or got washed out of the boat by the breakers and were found later dead on the beach. 2nd reason is i can take a plb with me hunting, fishing, snowmachine its small enough so no reason not to take it. 3rd reason i don't care if they find the boat I WANT THEM TO FIND ME !! I've never been in a situation where i'd be getting off the boat but i think if i was i'd get the suit on then turn on the plb before i went in the water if at all possible.

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  19. #19

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    Actually depends on which category you get and the hydrostatic release on if/when/where she (EPIRB) is deployed under water, so that depends on your choice and what you buy. I do prefer the PLB though, as it goes where I am- if am in my dinghy or go to shore, it's on my person. On the no float thing, easy fix- hook and loop tape stuck on the bottom/back of the PLB, and some of the corresponding hook and loop sewed to your survival suit hood. As long as your head is above water (which I hope it always is) it will be above water.
    I believe in several bilge pumps, inline fuses to different batteries and separate float switches and helm switches. I also usually run an additional float switch higher then the rest hooked to a light/alarm. I always have a hand pump (thirsty mate) at hand, with a hose long enough to get the water out of the boat.
    Back to the ditch bag- that is also always where I go, any time I go in the dinghy or shore, it's with me. I'm always worried that when I get back to the area I left my boat, be it after hunting, exploring or camping over night, my boat will be gone. At least I'll have my VHF radio and flares and such with me. You can also buy survival water in bags, I believe most of the SOLAS packs that come in survival rafts have them (probably can do a search where to get them).

  20. #20

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    One thing I carry in our ditch bag I haven't seen you guys talk about is an aviation handheld. I've only been on one trip in 50 years I can remember when I couldn't talk to a plane at least once in a 24 hr period.

    Other wise I carry A PLB, whistle, strobe and knife on my vest at all times and have the other things in a waterproof bag on the rear deck when ever we leave the slip. The whole set up is dedicated to the ditch bag. The bag has the basic items like most of you have mentioned. I go through it each spring and make sure everything works and is up to date.

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