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05 April 2016

D Is For Ditch Bag | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.  

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When we last left you, Nancy confronted the man who had been following them, but he refused to give them any information. As he drove off in his pick-up, Nancy noticed an anchor and other items in the back of his pick up truck and she discovered an important clue.

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“I’m so glad you were able to find another anchor to replace the one that got stolen,” said Nancy to Marvin and Shelley as she sat in the cockpit of their sailboat, The Scarlet Slipper, a 42’ white sloop with red racing stripes.

“We were lucky that they had the size we needed in stock. You know how it is with that marine store in town. These days, the salespeople seem to be all about the marine lifestyle, whatever that is, and know next to nothing about actual boat equipment! And they never have what you need,” Marvin fumed.

“There, there Marvin. It all worked out okay. Why don’t you pass the cheese and crackers over to the girls,” said Shelley, as she patted his arm. “Well, what did you girls get up to while we were at the marine store?”

George grabbed some cheese and crackers from the tray and said enthusiastically, “We had such an exciting afternoon! We did some investigating on the case, chased down a suspect and Nancy discovered a clue.”

“What do you mean investigating? Shouldn’t you leave that to the police? What would your father think if he knew you were chasing suspects around the marina?” asked Shelley. “It’s a shame he’s away on a business trip this weekend. It would have been fun if he could have joined us for the Grand Isle Regatta. And, he could have kept an eye on you.”

Nancy’s father, Carson Drew, was a well-known attorney in River Heights and often traveled for his work. While he was away, their housekeeper, Hannah Greun, who had lived with them since Nancy was three, looked after Nancy and the house.

“Oh, dad would be fine with it. He’s enlisted my help before and, besides, George, Bess and I make a crack investigative team,” said Nancy with a smile.

“Hmm…well, if your father is okay with it, then I guess there’s no harm. So, what did you find out?” asked Marvin.

“We discovered that a number of other items were stolen from people at the marina last night. There was a suspicious looking guy who was following us around while we were investigating. We chased him back to his boat, Party Time. It’s a white catamaran in the back of the boatyard. When we questioned him, he refused to tell us anything. Then he took off in his pick-up truck and I saw what I think were some of the missing items in the back,” said Nancy, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

Bess interjected, “But, you’ve left out one important point, Nancy. The guy tried to kill you!”

“What?” gasped Shelley. “He tried to do what?”

“Bess is exaggerating,” said Nancy. “He just jumped out and pushed me to the ground, but I’m fine. Listen, have either of you ever heard of Xebec Charters? I found this card underneath his catamaran.”

Marvin looked at the card and said, “Sure. They do fishing charters from the public dock across the bay.” He turned the card over and looked at the writing on the back. “There’s the name Pete and a number written on here.”

“I know,” said Nancy. “I called them earlier and a woman answered the phone. I asked her if Pete was there, but she said he was off on a delivery. When I asked her what kind of delivery, she said they sell used boat equipment and that Pete was dropping something off to a customer. Do you think he could be selling the stuff that was stolen from here last night?”

Marvin fingered the card and said, “I really think you should leave this to the police. Listen, they're coming back here tonight to give us an update on the investigation of our stolen anchor. Why don’t we tell them about this Pete fellow then and they can deal with it. Now, let’s get started with the safety briefing. Shelley, you want to show the girls the ditch bag and what's in it?”

Shelley showed them a bright yellow bag made out of water resistant material with two pouches – one marked EPIRB and one marked VHF. Bess puzzled over what those abbreviations stood for while Shelley explained that the ditch bag contained essential safety equipment and supplies. As she took each item out of the bag to show them to the girls, Bess noticed two young men passing by and waved at them.

Lost in her daydreams, Bess hadn’t been paying attention to Shelley, but then she heard her say, “Whoever is closest to the ditch bag should grab it if the boat starts to sink or catch on fire and we have to abandon ship.”

“What do you mean? Why would the boat start to sink or catch on fire?” Bess started to look anxious and Nancy whispered to Shelley, “Were those chocolate chip cookies I saw in the galley? Those might help calm Bess down.”

“Good idea,” Shelley said. “Bess, would you be a dear and go down below and bring the plate of chocolate chip cookies up here?”

Bess nodded her head and ducked through the companionway. A few minutes later, they heard a splash and Bess cried out, “Oh no!”

Tune in on Wednesday for the next installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – E is for EPIRB.

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Our ditch bag, which could double as a carry on suitcase on a plane. When you live in small spaces, like boats, it's always good if things can serve more than one purpose.

One of my tasks on our list of "Very Important But Very Boring Boat Projects" was to put together our ditch bag. It’s one of those things I hope we never ever have to use, but which is really important to have to hand, just in case. There seem to be a lot of "just in case" things one has to have aboard a boat. Usually, they're expensive.

You can think about a ditch bag as a sort of bug-out bag that you might keep in your coat closet or car if you're land based. It basically has what you need to survive should a natural disaster or emergency strike. We've got things like emergency blankets, a knife, signaling mirror, whistle, flares, sunhats, emergency rations, water, handheld VHF radio, flashlight, copies of important papers, cash, EPIRB, collapsible bucket, sunscreen etc.

When we got our EPIRB (more on that in tomorrow's blog post), we got a free ditch bag from ACR. Cruisers, especially cheap cruisers like us, love free stuff. Intellectually, I know it's just a marketing ploy, but I get sucked in every times. "Look, a free ditch bag!" I shout out while I punch in my credit card numbers online.

Our delightfully free ditch bag is bright yellow (like Big Bird) so you can't miss it, has exterior pockets for your VHF and EPIRB and space inside for all of your other emergency equipment and supplies. (Don't worry, VHF and EPIRB will be explained in due course.) Theoretically it can float, but we have yet to test this out. Some people buy ditch bags which are already kitted out, but we decided to stock ours ourselves in order to save a bit of money and customize what we carry in it.

You can find more information on ditch bags at The Boat Galley and Astolabe Sailing.

What about you - do you have a ditch bag or bug-out bag? What do you keep in it?

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34 comments:

  1. We do not have a bug out bag - natural disasters are few and far between in the wilds of Kent. Flooding is the only thing I can think of and if we flood then the whole of the next city is underwater, so it's unlikely :). I'm sure my friend with his boat has one - he was showing us his emergency beacon during the boat warming party last year :)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. It's always good to have a friend with a boat. He can come rescue your neck of the woods ever floods :-)

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  2. I don't have one. Hopefully I wont need one, too :)

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    1. I really hope we never have to use ours.

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  3. We have a ditch bag and something we carry that I haven't seen on many other lists (if any) are swim goggles.

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    1. I've never heard that before - it's a brilliant idea! I'm going to add them to my ditch bag.

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  4. Loving the story. I have always loved anything Nancy Drew.

    We have more than one bug out bag. I think there are essential.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Thanks Sandee - I'm glad you're enjoying it.

      We never had a bug out bag when we live on land, but I remember when they had the huge earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand when I was living there and how much people wished they had had bug out bags. No one ever thought Christchurch would get hit by an earthquake, but they did.

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  5. We have a bug out bag in the RV. It contains an extra first aid kit, water treatment tablets, a cork screw (naturally), some cash, a binder with emergency contacts (close friends and family), copies of important documents like marriage and birth certs, pet identification stuff (photos of each pet, vaccination info, microchip numbers, etc.). We've never had to use it but it offers peace of mind.

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    1. A cork screw - another brilliant idea that I'm going to update our bag with! The emergency contacts binder is a great idea. I don't have any contact details in our bag.

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  6. I don't have one of those, but it sounds like a great idea. I do have my gym and work bags (back when I took a class in fitness training they advised we do and I found it helpful.) I keep extras of essentials in those though it's not the same thing, I often am glad to have them on hand even when needing what it's in one or the other. Also I try to keep first aid kits around just in case. Hope you never have to use it though!

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    1. I think having gym and work bags stocked with essentials is smart. You know that you'll always have one of those bags with you. One of the problems with bug out bags is that it might be at your house and you might be away from home when an emergency happens.

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  7. Well, I don't have one but now I think I need one!!! Where to begin???

    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge http://www.kathleenvalentineblog.com/

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    1. There are lots of sites with info about what to put in land based bug out bags. Just do a little google and you'll probably be overwhelmed with ideas :-)

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  8. My husband put together a ditch bag for us from our house. He's more of a worrier than me, but at least he makes preparations for the things that worry him!


    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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    1. I always think it's good to have a designated worrier in a family :-)

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  9. I'm very impressed with how you are tying your story in with sailing info so that even a land lubber like me finds it interesting!
    The Glasgow Gallivanter

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    1. Thanks so much Anabel - that's really nice feedback. I did worry whether I could find a way to make this appeal to sailing type people and non-sailing type people alike.

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  10. No ditch bag here, but we do keep some emergency provisions on hand at all time. Hopefully, we'll never, ever need them, but like you pointed out it's good to have around just in case. While I remember the Nancy Drew books from my childhood that's about all I can say...I remember them. I read one or two of them, but I was reluctant reader. This is one of those things I struggled with in my early years and low self-esteem really kept me from enjoying reading. Anywho, I think it's really neat how you're using this book to tie in with your alphabet prompts in the A2Z challenge. Your theme is really interesting and I'm eager to read more in the coming days. Thanks for stopping by for a visit. It's nice meeting you!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    All Things Vintage: Dear Diary #AprilA2Z

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    1. Thanks for popping by for a visit too and I'm glad you like the theme and that it works even if you weren't a big ND fan.

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  11. I have to say, anything that would require a ditch bag is probably not something I'd do! I'm not very adventurous, though.

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    1. To be honest, I'm the same way. Yet, somehow I ended up living on a boat and being the proud owner of a ditch bag. Go figure.

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  12. Feeling a little bummed over here on S/V Independence...we got no free ditch bag when we bought our EPIRB last year! But we did get it on a boat show special sale, a cruiser's second favorite thing after free!
    And what made the splash? Oh be still my beating heart!

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    1. My timing really worked out well that I was in the market for an EPIRB when Defender had a good eal on.

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  13. All those years of boating on the lake and we never had a ditch bag. I count my lucky stars.

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    1. We didn't have one on our last boat either. Hopefully, we never have to use it.

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  14. Sounds like good common sense, but I hope your characters don't need to use theirs right away!

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    1. Hopefully, they don't have to use their ditch bag, but you never know, especially with all of those bad guys after Nancy.

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  15. Poor Bess. Always so distracted by those cookies. I completely understand her. We all have our inner, and sometimes more obvious, as in my case, Bess. The completely boring but useful boat tasks always seem to fall to me. The ditch bag is on my list, too. Ah well, it allows me slight feelings of competence.

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    1. I don't have a middle name, but if I did ever get one, I suspect Bess would suit me well. I kind of liked putting together the ditch bag. It gave me a sense of control. Hope we never have to use it, but it brings a bit of peace of mind knowing we have it.

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  16. Our ditch bag on Irie had was a waterproof bag with similar items in it than yours. We also had some fishing gear in it and a roll of toilet paper in a separate Ziploc bag. It seemed important to me at the time, for some reason. :-)

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

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    1. Toilet paper seems like a very good idea. I think I'll add some to the bag.

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  17. I'm really learning a lot about boating from this series. I had never even heard of a ditch bag until now.

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    1. I hadn't heard of one either until we got our first boat.

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