Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Ten Top Essentials for Your Personal Emergency 'Grab Bag'!

by John Jamieson on 16 Dec 2011
A fateful day .. .
It started as a balmy summer day in August several years ago. I was volunteer crew aboard a small sailboat being delivered south for sale.

We had anchored for the night in a quiet spot just inside the harbor breakwater. And the next morning, out of nowhere...

A vicious northeast gale rolled in with 50+ knot winds and steep white capped seas that caused the boat to buck like a rodeo stallion gone mad.

And then it happened...

Our anchor was ripped from the seabed by swell action like a gardener pulling a rotten weed from a garden patch. ...
Even with a second anchor down, we were dragging fast toward the seawall astern. The skipper was at the wheel with the engine in gear and then a line wrapped around the prop.

We were done for...

Nothing left to do except to man the fenders to cushion the crash. We slammed into the shark-tooth rocks of the seawall at five knots broadside. Vicious pounding shook the hull as each wave picked us up and threw us harder against the stones...

With just minutes to spare, we were able to get all hands onto the flat top of the seawall to safety. Seconds later she was submerged to her gunwales. Within twenty minutes, just top of the mast above the spreaders was visible in the howling wind and horizontal, driving rain...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you need to leave the boat for any reason--emergency, illness, or danger--you want to have a ready-made, 'grab it and go' bag with your most vital personal items enclosed.

I found I came up short in being prepared for disaster on that fateful day. After all, these things have happened to other sailors, so there was no guarantee that they couldn't happen to me. A rude awakening can pack a punch and make you think about things in a realistic way.

No doubt you have already thought of many things you want in your general grab bag - things like spare EPIRB, torch, satphone, scissors, mirror, first aid, passports, fishing line, hand-pump watermaker, etc, but here is a reminder about some personal items that you might have forgotten - ten essential 'must have' personal items - for a short cruise, longer passage, or extended ocean voyage. In any event 'don't leave home without them!'

1. Documentation and Insurance:

Vessel documentation, registration, and insurance. Credit or debit card receipts from the trip. The skipper had a terrible time when he tried to get action from his Insurance company right after the incident. It was a Saturday and it took several hours to get anyone to respond.

Make sure that you can contact a live human being that will take action to help you, whether it's a week day, weekend, or holiday. Accidents don't stop happening on these days, and your boat insurance company needs to provide live--not automated--help 24/7, 365 too. If they don't, find one that will.

2. Passwords:

List all of your user names and passwords for the most critical computer apps, like banks, credit card companies, or any website you do business with online. Access a computer from a local library or Internet café. Make a simple code for the app that's easy for you to recall.

For example, let's say you do business with Action Bank. Encode the word 'Action' with the alphabet and numbers like this: a=1, b=2, c=3, and so on. For the word 'Action', you would use 1-3-20-9-15-14. You can make up your own code. Be sure it's easy for you to remember, but tough for a thief to break.

3. Cash and Funds:

Seal your wallet or purse in a heavy duty zip lock bag. Carry at least $100 in small bills, plus have enough funds on a credit card to purchase a one-way ticket home by air, bus, train, or rental car.

Load an empty prescription bottle with $10 - $20 worth of quarters so that you can wash clothes at a Laundromat, purchase sodas or snacks from a machine, or make a phone call (if out of cell range or if your cell phone battery dies).

4. House and car keys:
Also leave a set with family or a trusted friend.

5. Communications Devices:

Pack a cell phone or IPhone with pre-programmed numbers of insurance company, friends, and family (seal in waterproof cell phone bag). Phone charger. Extra phone battery (batteries). Purchase a phone card in case you need to use a phone from a hotel. This could save you on costly long distant charges.

6. Prescriptions and Meds:

Ask your doc to write a script for 90 days worth of each prescription before you sail. Count out 30 day's worth of medication from each bottle, put it into a separate, labeled medicine bottle, and stow the bottles in a heavy duty zip-lock bag.

7. Change of Clothes:

Bring a full change of clothes. Include outer ware and underwear. Pack a lightweight windbreaker, hat, and extra pair of shoes. Seal everything in a zip-lock. Purchase miniature travel toiletries (find these at drugstores) and pack these in a separate zip-lock.

8. High Energy Food:

Include two days worth of high energy protein bars or snacks, sealed tight inside a zip-lock.

9. Spare Glasses:

Buy extra pairs of glasses at a Wal-Mart super store. They have great quality glasses at big discounts. You need a pair of clear lens and a pair of sunglasses--both RX. Make sure the sunglasses are polarized.

10. Paperback:

Not many things seem to give sailors comfort like a good detective novel or adventure yarn. Carry a spare paperback to help you get through the hours in case you need to wait for transportation like flights or buses.
Learn to sail like a pro when you prepare ahead of time with a good, solid personal grab bag like this.

Keep your grab bag lean with just the most necessary items you need. This will give you the confidence you need to enjoy your cruise without the worry of what to do--if the unexpected crosses your path.

John Jamieson (Captain John) shows sailors the no-nonsense cruising skills they need beyond sailing school at www.skippertips.com . Sign up for a free sailing tips newsletter or become a member for instant access to hundreds of sailing tips articles, newsletters, eBooks, and live discussion forums.

Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82Naiadupffront 660x82

Related Articles

Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted today at 2:13 pm
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
SouthernFurl In-Boom furling systems withstand Sydney Hobart test
Southern Spars design team have developed the SouthernFurl Boom smaller budgets and yachts from 35-70 feet. Have you ever scared your family when you got stuck with too much sail up when you should be reefed? Southern Spars’ range of SouthernFurl booms are the answer – letting you reduce sail quickly and easily without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
Posted on 23 May
2016 Garda Trentino Olympic Week - Day 4
Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Tomorrow the medal race is scheduled for the Lasers and another two races for the three paralympic classes.
Posted on 13 May
CCA presents RCC Award to Scott and Mary Flanders
CCA has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy. The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.
Posted on 22 Apr
Cyclone Winston Relief Fund – Help the people of Fiji
Sea Mercy is sending volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food and medical supplies to Fiji. Sea Mercy is once again sending our volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food, water and medical supplies and teams to Fiji.
Posted on 27 Feb
Golden Globe Race - 30 sailors from 12 countries named for challenge
Sailors from America, Britain and France head the preliminary entry list for the 2018 Golden Globe solo round the world Sailors from America, Britain and France head the preliminary entry list for the 2018 Golden Globe solo round the world race. The 29 men and one woman – have each paid an initial A$3,000 entry fee. Other entrants hail from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Estonia, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Russia and Switzerland.
Posted on 18 Feb