Abandon ship, but only with your ditch bag
Exactly four weeks ago, I began the classroom portion of the Yachtmaster prep classes, the first step on the path to obtaining a commercial Captain’s License. Whereas I’ve already had a couple of unofficial days out sailing with Alex, the real on-the-water portion of the training began yesterday.
Another great day sailing.
It was a good long day of training and because of my familiarity with the boat and it’s procedures, I was frequently the first of the four students on board to perform any of the exercises. One such duty delegated to me was to give the safety briefing, which essentially meant detailing all of the procedures and equipment to the new passengers prior to setting sail. The location and use of lifesaving equipment (life vests, jack lines and tethers, first aid kits), operation of cooking appliances (propane shutoffs, safety sensors and venting) and communication equipment (VHF radio and GPS) were among the list. One other item included on the fairly long checklist (which I was only to look at after doing my best by memory) was going through the contents of the “Ditch Bag” item for item.
On ZTC we have no formal Ditch Bag (aka Abandon Ship Bag) although, were we doing longer ocean passages, I’m sure we’d assemble one. I am quite certain that the RYA regulates a minimum specific list of items that the Ditch Bag should include and it’s no doubt extensive. By memory, so forgive me Alex if I’ve forgotten an item of two, the kit on Chao Lay includes the following:
- Emergency water rations
- Handheld red distress flares
- Rocket / parachute flares
- Smoke flares
- Signaling mirror
- Thermal protection suits
- First aid kit
- Drogue/sea anchor for the Life Raft (more on that another day)
- Small radar reflector (for use in Life Raft)
- Emergency food rations
- Light sticks
- Sea sickness medicine
- Signaling flash light (a “torch” for the Brits)
- Kite (for signaling, or perhaps for entertainment 🙂 )
A commercially available ditch bag.
The above, and any other items you deem appropriate, should be stored in a good waterproof bag, preferably one with some positive flotation. Prior to abandoning ship, I would also grab the ships EPIRB, handheld VHF radio (with extra batteries if available), additional water and a package containing your passport, ships documents and some money, just in case.
Do any of our readers have a ditch bag on board their boat? Anyone have anything to add to this discussion?
One thing is certain, students or charter guests with Bluewater Sailing eat well. We had pizza and salad for lunch and Alex’s special Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner.
I might just gain weight on this course!