Items For The “Just In Case”

By Joyce Kramer

What a thrill to be invited to come along with a group of friends or family for a day out on the boat. Perhaps it will be a fishing experience. Maybe a ride on the rivers. Whatever the activity, it will be fun.

However, you may not be familiar with what type of vessel you will be going on. Maybe it is a family boat used by everyone and has many skippers. Or, sometimes, you and some others decide to rent a boat for fun on the water. However, after you have said yes and accepted the invitation, you realize that you haven’t a clue as to what is on board when it comes to safety and creature comfort items.

The answer to this dilemma can be easily solved by carrying a supply of your favorite items in an easy to carry duffle bag. Nowadays there are so many duffle bags and back packs to choose from you are bound to find one that takes your eye. These duffle bags vary from camouflage to shocking pink. They are surprisingly roomy and can carry many necessary items for comfort and survival. When you are ready to go, all you have to do is grab it and your life jacket. Now you are ready for a day of fun on the water.

As for what items to pack and how much of each, just think about what things would provide you with comfort in several situations. For example, take into consideration that you could get stranded and need enough of everything for overnight or an extra day. Also, someone on the boat may not be prepared for anything and you might want to share.

One can never tell about the unexpected. like being caught in a sudden storm. Boats have been known to run out of gas. Batteries do get old and die. Perhaps those who own the boat don’t check the mechanics of the boat often enough. Also, some people just never think that anything could happen to them until it does and then its too late.

It is also known that storage space is at a premium on modern boats. Spare equipment and life jackets should be on board. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

If you figure that the all important life jacket is missing, you can just bet that the items which provide creature comforts for sure are completely forgotten.

While deciding what to pack, ask yourself what would keep you comfortable if you were exposed for a prolonged period of time to sun, and wind, or maybe rain or cold temperatures. Such personal care items like sun screen, and a hat come to mind first. Also sun glasses, which make the brilliant glare easy on your eyes. This would help you to avoid headaches and burning eyes.

A supply of wipes and insect repellent are also items which provide comfort, especially when it comes to getting rid of those nasty bugs.

First aid kits are easy to find and are inexpensive. Most contain everything from a manual to aspirins and bandages. However, you do need to include personal health items. Bring along your prescriptions and other medicines that you may need. Make sure you take enough for an extra day, just in case.

Food and water are necessary items. Having water on board is an essential on a hot, sunny day. You can place several bottles of water in a collapsible cooler in the duffle bag itself. Or, if it is not possible to keep the water cold, remember all it has to be is wet.

For a diabetic person, certain foods are essential to their health and enjoyment of the day. Crackers, cookies, granola bars as well as small cans of fruits and soups can provide nourishment for a long day. Many canned items have pull tops now but it would be safer to bring along a can opener.

The weather is fickle. It is something that we can’t control, but we can make the best of it by having just a couple of simple items in our pack. Having such foul weather gear as a vinyl coat and hat sure comes in handy in the comfort department. Modern gear is made of sturdy but very light weight vinyl and folds up into a neat package that hardly takes up room at all.

Extra clothing like a sweater, cap and gloves can keep you warm during an unexpected weather change. If you become stranded overnight, they can help keep you comfy and warm. Also, beach towels can double as a blanket for extra warmth. If it is a warm night, these items make great pillows.

Other items that are easily carried are compasses, charts, and binoculars. A hand-held VHF radio can also help keep you updated as to the weather and you can also call for help from the emergency channel.

Sometimes during a storm the lake will get very rough and waves will be splashing water into your boat. Also, we all know that there are under water obstacles on Lake Seminole and her rivers. You can hit something and crack the hull causing a leak.

You may have to improvise something to bail with, like a can or a food storage item. If you place your food items in a storage canister, you can use it to bail out in an emergency. These things might not be as large as a full size pail but it will work in a pinch.

Mechanical emergencies can be frightening when you don’t have any tools, or spare parts. Sometimes it is best to carry spark plugs and sheer pins.

Tools are necessary to repair something that will get your boat underway. Marine stores carry compact and light weight tool kits with pliers, a Phillips and slotted screw driver, wrenches and other items.

You can never tell when you will need to attract another boater to come help in an emergency. A whistle is something that always seems to attract attention. Also, a bright colored shirt or sweater waved in the air is an excellent visual signaling device.

Lastly, tell some of your neighbors and friends that you will be going out on the water. Let them know when you will leave, where you expect to be and with whom. Try to give as close an estimate as you can as to when you will be home. You never know when you may need someone to look for you.

Joyce is a crewman and officer in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 83 – Lake Seminole. She can be reached at

Submitted photos

1 Samples of duffle bags.

Photos by Dale Kramer

1 and 2 You can never tell what type of boat you will be asked out on.

3 Everyone has fun when boaters gather

4 Boats come in all sizes. One never knows what type of cruise you will have.

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