A grab bag is a vital piece of safety equipment should be there in your boat that must be prepared and ready to go in case of an emergency such as a serious fire, sinking vessel, or medical evacuation.
The contents may differ slightly depending on whether you are coastal sailing, heading offshore on a transatlantic crossing, or have a budget to consider.
It is important to put careful consideration into choosing the right emergency equipment for your sailing vessel and planned passage. When it comes to the crunch you don’t want your grab bag to be ill-equipped.
A grab bag is a vital piece of safety equipment.
Life Raft Basic Survival Kit
Many life rafts come with a basic sea survival kit included. The contents can vary, so it is a good idea to check what is included with your life raft onboard. You can adapt the grab bag to suit your vessel requirements.
Some Life Raft comes equipped with: a rescue quoit with 30m of line, pair of oars, sponges, bailer, waterproof torch & batteries, life saving signal card, red hand flares, floating knife, sea anchor, set of repair clamps and a hand pump.
Some Liferaft Equipment Pack includes: a rescue quoit & 30m line, paddles, bailer, sponges, pump, repair kit, sea anchor & line, whistle, waterproof torch, signalling mirror, survival instructions & liferaft manual, solas card of distress signals, floating liferaft safety knife, sea sickness tablets, solas red hand flares, solas red parachute rockets, solas external lighting system, rainwater catching system on canopy and an insulated thermal floor.
Types of Grab Bag
A grab bag needs to be completely waterproof with the ability to float. A roll-top dry bag is adequate, or a rigid flare canister. It is a good idea to have a line attached to the grab bag so it can be tethered if necessary. There are a range of grab bags available to buy, or if you purchase a ready-made pack then it may include the grab bag too.
Abandoning Ship – Where to Place Your Grab Bag
The grab bag needs to be stored in an easy-to-reach position in case of emergency. All crew members should be briefed on its location and contents. It should be the first item picked up in an abandon ship/evacuation procedure. Any non-essential equipment can be gathered (if there is enough time) before boarding the life raft.
Essential Grab Bag Items
- Passport, cash/credit cards and ship’s log/papers
- Handheld VHF
- Drinking water
- First Aid Kit/Medication
- Navigation tools
- Foil blankets
- Torch & batteries
- Bailer/hand pump
- Signalling mirror & whistle
- Sea anchor.
Additional Grab Bag Items
- Laser flares
- Satellite phone
- Fishing kit/spear gun
- Life raft repair kit
- Spare glasses
- Pack of cards
- Spare 30m line.
You should access and update your grab bag regularly to ensure nothing is out-of-date and that items such as batteries and electronics are in good working order.