I scan my ‘to do’ list which has at least 70 items. Have you ever had a list like that, in which each item actually has a ton of sub-items? It can feel overwhelming. One of my items is ‘provision the ditch bag.’ This one item actually has 42 separate items which need to be found, purchased or ordered. There are the ‘must have’ items (e.g., EPIRB, handheld GPS, first aid kit, sunscreen, parachute rockets, C-strobes, nausea tablets, 6 types of distress signaling devices, etc.), the ‘should have’ items (e.g., blunt nose knife, rations, safety tin openers, etc.) and the ‘recommended’ items (e.g., copies of passports, meds, vessel documentation, etc.). Days later, it is almost finished. This causes me to consider ‘non-essential but perhaps useful’ items for the ditch bag. What, I wonder, do people in a life raft do once things are under control and they are just floating and waiting? Would they like reading material? If so, People magazine or National Geographic? A pack of playing cards or bottles of bubbles? Dark chocolate or milk? So many decisions. My head hurts so I decide all will be well, I don’t need to add anything else, and check ‘ditch bag’ off my mile-long list.
The captain had asked if the crew could use our blankets and pillows instead of bringing gear. Of course, we said yes. I’ve ordered a ton of stuff required by the ditch bag and can’t
believe how much just that one project is costing. “What are ‘thermal protection suits’” I ask Matt. He shrugs. I look them up and see they are $120. I ask Matt if we really need them for the ditch bag. He wonders aloud if we can just use huge garbage bags – the kind for leaves. I stare at him. “Really?” I ask. “You’d be ok sitting in a life raft looking at three crew members and admitting you were so cheap that you bought huge garbage bags instead of thermal protective gear? Have you seen these things?” I show him the picture. We suck it up and order the thermal protective suits. That night Matt tells me the captain changed his mind and says we need to buy sleeping bags for everyone. “What? Can’t they just sleep in their thermal protective suits?” I ask. Sometimes, I crack myself up. I tell Matt we’ll save money if we let the boys use them for Halloween.