Friday, December 4, 2009

Go Bag

 The grab it and go bag has various flares, rockets and smoke flares, of course, as well as a signaling mirror and an orange poncho, packed in a small river bag. The big tubes in the photo are parachute flares, SOLAS quality, 1000 foot altitude and forty second burn time. They cost $50 each but I get them for free.

SOLAS is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, and it imposes certain very rigorous standards on life saving equipment. Merchant ships are generally required to have on board only SOLAS certified flares, rafts etc. SOLAS gear is much more expensive than similar items which are merely US Coast Guard approved.

In my town there are shops which inspect and repack liferafts, service EPIRBS and the like for merchant ships. These ships cannot have on board flares which are past their expiration date, and if I ask at the shop I can have a few for free. The flares are past their dates but as SOLAS gear they still have years of reliable use. I think.

We also have a flare kit handy to the cockpit, with a flare pistol. I buy a few new cartridges every year, to be Coast Guard compliant. True to our propensity to practice and drill, the kids and I shoot off the oldest ones each summer, in daylight, toward the water.

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