A well-equipped ditch bag is an item you hope is never necessary. But in the unlikely event a crew is forced into a life raft or open water, those provisions could prove life-saving. With offshore trips more common during the summer months, now is the perfect time to stock up or replenish your own ditch bag. Here are some key items to include:
Waterproof VHF Radio
This is a lifeline between nearby boats or searching aircraft or rescue vessels. Waterproof integrity is critical and make it a point to recharge or replace the batteries on a regular basis.
Waterproof GPS or PLB
A Personal Locator Beacon like those made by ACR Electronics or Ocean Signal, have transmitting beacons, homing signals and strobe so rescuers can find you quickly. A handheld GPS as a substitute permits a relay of an exact position via VHF. Like the radio, make sure power is available for either when you need it most.
A day/night flare or two, signaling mirror and a nylon or plastic bright streamer will increase visibility to searchers. The sound of a whistle or small air horn can be heard much farther than shouting.
First Aid Kit
If someone is injured band-aids/gauze, antibiotic ointment and pain pills provide quick temporary relief. Sunscreen is another handy addition. Store the kit in a zip-lock or vacuum bag.
A person can survive quite awhile without food, but fresh water is critical. A few bottles will quench the thirst until help arrives.
Include a couple of these for quick sustenance until everyone is back on terra firma eating a steak.
Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool
Use these handy tools for any number of chores, from cutting adhesive tape to quick repairs.
A light nylon rope or dock line and some zip ties can be used for rafting life jackets together or other unexpected needs.
Waterproof Navigation Chart
A waterproof chart won’t take up much space and could prove useful to pinpoint the last known location or the nearest point of land.