These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
 Where do you want
 to go on ETS?

Abandon Ship Bag
Life Raft Maintenance

7 - Raft Repair Clamps (4 small, 2 medium, 1 large)

Raft Repair ClampsDon't even think about relying on those virtually worthless patch kits that come with most rafts and are often the only solution provided on many inexpensive European manufactured rafts. Read the instructions and you will find that they all require that whatever is being patched must be dry. There are many things you'll find on a raft, but "dry" isn't often one of them, to say nothing of repairs below the water line.

The very best solution, and the only one really worth a damn, are the military style oval clamps which are available in three sizes (3 inch, 5 inch and 8 inch or small, medium and large). No, they are not cheap, but what would you rather have, something that works to save your butt, or something that is cheap, but doesn't work? Like the name implies, these actually clamp the material between two two sealed surfaces, the only way to truly seal a hole in the fabric by mechanical means.

At least one manufacturer includes a set of three, one each size, doubling up for a SOLAS raft. All very good, except the large clamps are much less likely to be needed than the smaller ones, so try and get more smaller ones if possible, packing more utility into the same volume.

Plugs, ridged or threaded cone shaped rubber or plastic, are not nearly as effective or permanent a repair as these clamps, but are handy to have for small punctures and as a quick stop-gap measure.

2 - Manual Inflation Pumps

Hopefully, you'll be rescued quickly, but if not, experience of other survivors teaches us these vital hand pumps fail all too often. A spare is cheap insurance. If you have an inflatable dinghy aboard, its pump may serve, provided you obtain the appropriate fitting (and any adapters/hose/clamps required) to work with the life raft's topping valves.

3 - Sea Anchor / Drogue and line

Whatever you want to call them, sea anchor or drogue, you might as well consider them a consumable. They are lost far too often in serious weather. Make sure they meet SOLAS specifications and are equipped with swivels.

2 - Sponges

Sized for single handed use and long lasting, non-degrading. Too small will prove frustrating to use, too large will get tiring to use after a short while.

1 - Bailer

You may be using it a lot, make sure it is comfortable to work with and is equipped with a handle. Few bailers supplied with rafts are any good in my experience.

1 Roll - Duct or Sail Mending Tape

Industrial or military grade duct tape is best. Make sure it sticks well when wet. Some brands do better than others. Effective for small leaks above the water line and just about the most useful material known to man when improvising or making repairs. An alternative, or possibly in addition to the duct tape, is sail mending tape which, while more expensive (for the good stuff), is designed for use around salt water and the high strength adhesive and reinforced tape is far stronger.

? - Plugs for Pressure Release Valves and Topping Valves

How many depends on how many valves are in the raft, one for each. Many topping valves have integrated plugs attached, but carry a couple spares, they tend to be torn off and lost. Most PRV plugs don't have lanyards attached, but guess where most PRVs are located? Right -- on the exterior where if you drop the small, easily fumbled plugs they fall into the water. Most also don't float. Make sure you add lanyards. Note that some PRV designs cannot be plugged, but can be closed via a special tool, which should be included, along with a spare.

Click here for more Abandon Ship Bag article.

Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donation

« Prev. [Previous]
[Next] Next »

Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
Revision: 08 August 11, 2000
Webserver courtesy of Pulver Technologies
Email to:

© 1999, 2000 Douglas S. Ritter & Equipped To Survive Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Check our Copyright Information page for additional information.
Read the ETS
Privacy Policy