For those of you who don’t know, the ditch bag is a collection of essentials designed to grab and go in an emergency if your boat catches on fire or starts sinking quickly. What goes in your bag is up to you, but we have created a collection of products that we believe to be the essentials to a basic ditch bag. Whether you’re on a sportfish boat or a center console, it's an important tool. You’ll want to make sure that you can always keep it somewhere that it's easy to grab. We have heard numerous stories where ditch bags were buried under bags and the boat went down too fast to get to it. Or a ditch bag was put in a space where an electrical fire started, like under a console, and it was either consumed by fire or inaccessible. Whether it’s placement, bag style, or deciding what's in it, there are several things to consider...
The bag itself: There are plenty of options here so think about what works best for you. There are bags that float like the ones from ACR, but they take up more space and you may be limited. The bags we offer from Watershed are military spec and have an inflation valve, so when sealed closed they can be inflated to create bouyancy. Another option is our yellow Aquapac waterproof backpack. It's affordable and it's a backpack, so you can grab and put on your back so it stays with you when you jump overboard. Just remember, the Aquapac doesn’t float. Everything is a trade off but think about what works best for you.
Budget: Although you don’t want to break the bank, your safety and the safety of everyone else on your boat is #1 in our book. So, while there are options based on cost, decide carefully and make wise decisions that could save your life instead of saving a few bucks.
Travel Plans: Are you a weekend warrior, making a crossing or fishing far offshore? Plan accordingly and make sure your equipment is appropriate. You may be just a few miles offshore, but things happen fast and with offshore current you could be further away in no time.
Signaling: When you are waiting for a rescue, an EPIRB or PLB is crucial. Devices like flares, mirrors, whistles, horns, flashlights, etc. are also important. These products are crucial to your survival in an emergency situation.
Communication:A handheld VHF is a great idea. The ones that we suggest are 6 watt. The more power the better when you are trying to reach help. Being able to communicate with the Coast Guard when they are searching for you is key.
Misc items: Be creative…
Ultimately, it’s your judgement of what's important and your decision of what to buy that saves your life and the life of others. Choose wisely!
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