Yes, it happens! Sometimes boats sink. And it can happen even to you, no matter how much experience and safety equipment you have on board. You might run into a whale, your engine might catch fire, or you might be holed by fallen rigging in a storm.
Admittedly a catamaran is far less likely to sink than a monohull, mainly because it isn’t dragging around 5 tons of lead bolted to it’s keel, but even so, it is prudent to be prepared for the worst, to have a backup plan to all the other backup plans.
So, if your boat where to sink, what would you need to survive?
There are two important goals you need to consider:
1. You need to survive until you are rescued or are able to rescue yourself (eg. you drift ashore).
2. Help needs to arrive as soon as they can.
Depending on how quickly you can be found will thus determine how survival gear you need.
First, you need a liferaft. If you don’t have one of those you are going to be swimming for a long time! We have a Viking RescYou. Make sure you get it serviced regularly. Make sure it is stowed where you can get to it. And make sure you know how to operate it. When you are buying one, or getting yours serviced, have a good look at one that has been deployed so you can see exactly what is in it.
Second, you need an abandon ship bag. Also known as a grab-bag, ditch bag, ditch kit or flee bag, this is a handy floating waterproof bag that is pre-loaded with some essential survival equipment.
Make sure that your ditch bag is waterproof and that it floats. Many of them are not fully waterproof, which can be a problem if you have to through it into the sea while you are clambering aboard your liferaft.
It must also float. Normally they will, simply by virtue of the trapped air inside – but TEST it once you have packed it. And it must have a lanyard. That way you can clip it to your liferaft and then you have one less thing to think about and one less thing to lose.
On my own boat I use one of my old white water rafting dry bags. They do the job perfectly.
Once you have prepared your bag, store it where it can be easily grabbed. Don’t bury it deep in one of your long term storage compartments deep in the bilges. When you need it, you need it in a hurry.