Packing a Ditch Bag 101

An example of some of the items that are ideal to pack in a well-equipped ditch bag. Most importantly is for boaters to customize ditch bag contents to meet their needs.
An example of some of the items that are ideal to pack in a well-equipped ditch bag. Most importantly is for boaters to customize ditch bag contents to meet their needs.

It’s something you hope to never need. Yet, it’s smart not to head out on the water without one. Ditch bags, also called a go-bag or bail-bag, and what’s packed inside can spell the difference between life or death if you need to abandon vessel and wait for help to arrive. With this importance underscored, and because of the need for a ditch bag to be small and light enough to hoist and carry, what should you put in it? How should the contents vary by the type of boating you do? Where should you stow a ditch bag for easy access? We asked these three questions to a trio of boating safety professionals for their expert advice.

“Pack as much as practical. Pack more than you need. Redundancy is good,” says Ted Sensenbrenner, assistant director of boating safety programs for the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland. “The kit should include things to SIGNAL for help (EPIRB and PLB, flares, meteors, and smoke, mirror, light signals, distress light, laser flare, strobing distress light and dye markers).  The kit should include things to COMMUNICATE to rescuers/would be rescuers (handheld VHF, tracking and texting devices aka Satellite Emergency Notification Device (SENDs), satellite phone, cell phone). The kit should include SURVIVAL items (this list can be extremely lengthy and personal, but survival items should include the following; food and water, medical supplies, fishing gear and rain water collection/water purifier, prescription meds/eyeglasses (if needed), documentation like passports, ID and ship’s papers, navigation equipment like a chart, handheld GPS, compass.

Some people pack really comprehensive ditch bags and some only pack the essentials, says Brian Kinsella Sr, national yachting sales manager for the Americas for Viking Life-Saving Equipment, Inc., based in Miami, Florida. “A knife, radar reflector, sunscreen, lip balm, garden gloves for flare handling and space blankets or TPAs (thermal protective aids), are items I usually recommend.”

The essential point is that a ditch bag should be personalized to suit individual needs. This can mean buying each item separately and assembling a bag from scratch. Or, buying a ready-made ditch bag, scanning the inventory included and adding additional items to customize as desired. This tailoring should also be based on whether boating trips are predominantly inshore or offshore.

If operating inshore expendable items or your one-and-done items like food, water, flares should be increased based on your cruising,” explains Timothy Hazen, the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida-based Southeast, Gulf Coast, & Caribbean Regional Sales Manager for the Survitec Group Ltd. “For example, inshore you may carry 3 extra flares, if offshore you should consider 6. In recreational boating the USCG does a great job at outlining what we should carry. We as the boaters need to take these requirements as minimums and not items to simply pass an inspection. If the USCG requires 3 or an item there is no harm in carrying 6, there is no such thing as being “too safe” at 2 am, in 12’ seas off shore and no visibility.”

Raymarine Delivers Axiom UAV App




Marine Industry First:

Raymarine Delivers Axiom UAV App

New LightHouse 3.6 update for Axiom MFD offers integration with DJI Mavic Pro Drones

Delivering a marine electronics industry first, Raymarine Axiom users can now take to the skies with the latest LightHouse 3.6 OS update. The new Axiom UAV app brings together the power and simplicity of Raymarine navigation with advanced unmanned aerial imaging.

Compatible with the popular and highly capable DJI Mavic Pro drone, the Axiom UAV app automates many common tasks including launch, airborne imaging, in-flight navigation, and return-to boat. Fishing and cruising boats alike can greatly benefit from having this added aerial imaging platform integrated onboard.


Advantages include:

Virtual Tuna Tower

Launch the Mavic Pro and use its camera system to scout for fish in the water ahead of the boat. When fitted with an optional polarized lens, the Mavic Pro’s 4K UHD camera system can see gamefish, baitfish, weedlines, sandbars, reefs and more. This technology allows smaller boats many of the fish-scouting advantages once limited to boats to boats of a very specific size and cost.

Capture the Action

Capture the action of landing trophy fish. Use Axiom UAV’s Fish-On feature to instantly launch the UAV, start video recording, and automatically fly the camera in an orbit around the boat. Convenient on-screen controls let you fine-tune the UAV’s altitude, orbit radius, orbit speed and camera angle right from the screen of your Raymarine Axiom or Axiom Pro.

Birds-Eye Viewing on the Big Screen Axiom MFD

Free your drone from your tiny Smartphone screen and view imagery on your sizeable Raymarine Axiom or Axiom Pro MFD screen. Shoot video, take still images, and capture other imagery you can see from the air, all easily saved to Mavic’s onboard memory card.

Scout Ahead with UAV Goto

Fly to points of interest, waypoints, or chart locations. Use the UAV GOTO command on your Axiom or Axiom Pro chartplotter screen to send the UAV out on a mission. Using GPS navigation, the Mavic Pro will fly to the precise location you selected and hover on station. While airborne you can see the UAV on your navigation chart along with its course, speed, altitude and camera orientation.



Automated or Manual Flight Controls

The Axiom UAV app offers multiple options to control the Mavic Pro in flight, including an automatic “Return to Boat” feature. In addition to the automatic flight modes, Axiom UAV also offers virtual on-screen joysticks for manual flight. You can also take control at any time with the DJI Mavic Pro joystick controller.

Axiom UAV is a free update for Axiom, Axiom Pro and Axiom XL multifunction displays. The LightHouse 3.6 update is now available for Axiom owners to download directly to their Wi-Fi-enabled MFDs or users can download the software from the website.

For more information on the Raymarine Axiom UAV APP visit