Grab bag, ditch bag, panic bag  – whatever you call it, it’s a vital bit of kit to have prepared and ready to take with you in the event of an emergency, be it a serious fire, sinking or medical evacuation.
Whatever your budget, there are some items that you simply must include in your essential grab bag. While your liferaft is being serviced, it’s well worth heading down to the service centre while yours is inflated, to take a look and familiarise yourself with both the raft and also its contents.
Most people have their separate flare box to hand ready to take with them into the liferaft, but it’s worth placing a few hand flares in the grab bag as well, in case you’re separated from the flare pack.
There are many Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) available, and these are your failsafe, best bet for a quick rescue wherever you are in the world.
Long-distance cruisers may well already have one of these – it’s not worth buying just to leave in the grab bag, but you should add it to your ‘grab’ list when taking to the raft. The Go Bag contains your personal emergency supplies pre-packed in an easy-to-carry solution - usually a backpack. Food: Pack some ready to eat food in your Go Bag to keep you self-sufficient in the immediate aftermath of an incident.
Miscellaneous: You may consider packing an emergency mobile phone charger (although the mobile network may not be operating) and other spare batteries. Communication: Telephone networks, including mobile networks, may become disabled or overwhelmed locallyduring an emergency.


Obviously, what you have in the bag depends on the type of sailing you’ll be doing and how much you’re willing to spend. In the darkness on a sinking yacht it’s easy to get disorientated, so assign each crew member a task – something to grab on their way out of the boat. Keep yours in the grab bag, along with a set of spare batteries – you can always take it out of the bag for routine use if you need it approaching a harbour.
Emergency Food Rations, as used in life- rafts, provide  a high calorie, long shelf- life biscuit that is both compact and easy to store. Select an emergency torch that uses LEDs, as these will last for thousands of hours, negating the need for an extra bulb. The bag doesn't need to be waterproof, however, if you wish to protect your gear, you can line your backpack with a light- weight dry sack.
They are meant to assist journalists using grab bags and are not meant to be negative in nature. For coastal sailing and cross-Channel hops, you’ll need very different contents than if you’re doing a transatlantic passage. For instance, assign one person the EPIRB, another the ship’s log, or drinking water, another the flares and grab bags. He took water, food, flares, a spear gun and sleeping bag, and his raft contained a Solar Still to collect fresh water.


They grabbed some fresh fruit, onions, a tin of biscuits, a sail, oars, empty boxes, petrol, a sewing kit, and a first aid kit. One way of reducing the amount of water you carry in your Go Bag is to pack water purification tablets - these  can be used to treat almost any water, making it suitable to drink. Make sure it’s correctly registered, though, or emergency services might waste valuable time trying to track your details down.
This Go Bag should be stored in a safe and secure location ready to be grabbed at a moment's notice.
Fold flat type of masks are compact and easy to carry - they are ideal for emergency purposes.
Steve Callahan, who spent 76 days adrift, recommends having a 25ft floating line attached, so the bag can float free but stay tethered. But the grab bag should contain the minimum to allow you to survive that you can still manage to manhandle in an emergency.
An emergency foil poncho is an excellent choice as it is extremely light and compact yet it will keep you warm and dry.



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