1 RES­CUE KNIFE: Fit­ted to my left shoul­der, in reach of ei­ther hand, this easy-to-re­move, yet se­cure knife, is short, blunt-tipped, ser­rated and has a sharp­ened rope-cut­ting hook.

The ridged han­dle aids a firm grip, and a hole al­lows an ad­di­tional lan­yard to be fit­ted for added se­cu­rity if re­quired. Hav­ing fish­ing lines, an­chor sys­tems, pad­dle and rod leashed in abun­dance, this is a vi­tally im­por­tant piece of equip­ment to carry.

The blunt tip lessons the risk of ac­ci­den­tally cut­ting my­self, of course, and with the hook I can pull down on to line, as well as us­ing the stan­dard cut­ting edge. 2 VHF RA­DIO: A vi­tal tool for all sea users, this fits se­curely into the large right­hand pocket of my PFD, with the aerial tucked away in a clip just above. While it is there as my first re­sponse to an emer­gency res­cue sce­nario, it is also use­ful for re­ceiv­ing weather fore­casts and se­cu­rity warn­ings, and is in con­stant use for gen­eral on-the-water ra­dio traf­fic, both for call­ing and re­ceiv­ing. Chan­nel 16, the emer­gency and call­ing chan­nel, is con­stantly mon­i­tored, with Chan­nel 8 on dual watch in my own wa­ters as the pre­ferred ship-to-ship work­ing chan­nel for the nu­mer­ous small com­mer­cial, char­ter and leisure boats. Chan­nels 12 and 14 are the two lo­cal har­bour call­ing chan­nels, while in other lo­ca­tions al­ter­nates are used; it is al­ways best to check what is in use in the area you plan­ning to visit. Le­gally, you are re­quired to hold an Of­com li­cence and an RYA Short Range Cer­tifi­cate to op­er­ate one with­out su­per­vi­sion. Al­though many chose not to do the course, it is as valu­able as reg­u­lar ra­dio use to give the con­fi­dence to use it and make call­ing on it sec­ond na­ture, es­sen­tial in an emer­gency. 3 PER­SONAL LOCATOR BEA­CON: I have been car­ry­ing a McMurdo Fastfind 210 GPS PLB for the last five years and can’t imag­ine go­ing out solo or in poor con­di­tions with­out it. This is fit­ted on to my right chest in a neo­prene flota­tion pocket, tucked away in

a ny­lon pouch and leashed with a stain­less cara­biner for easy re­moval and se­cu­rity while in my hand. This is my last-call safety de­vice.

This GPS Per­sonal Locator Bea­con, reg­is­tered with Fal­mouth Coast­guard to my­self, is wa­ter­proof to 10 me­tres, light­weight, pocket sized, eas­ily held and de­signed to be car­ried; it never leaves my PFD.

Trans­mit­ting a unique iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sig­nal on 406Mhz, via the in­ter­na­tional Search and Res­cue sys­tem, ac­ti­va­tion is then passed to re­gional SAR au­thor­i­ties, who can then home in via the ad­di­tional 121.5 Mhz bea­con and flash­ing LED SOS light.

With a six-year bat­tery life and 24-hour con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion on ac­ti­va­tion, it is a safe and ef­fec­tive re­place­ment for dis­tress flares that should see me pulled out of the water with the min­i­mum trou­ble in dire cir­cum­stances.

4 LINE CUT­TER: Fit­ted se­curely on to my right shoul­der, this res­cue hook has a large, easy-to-grab (and hold on to) han­dle, and can be reached by ei­ther hand. Se­curely at­tached with ca­ble ties and with lim­ited al­ter­na­tive use, it re­mains al­ways avail­able, and can be used to pull down on to any stray lines I might find my­self caught up in.

5 STROBE AND WHIS­TLE: The small, sim­ple and un­ob­tru­sive wa­ter­proof strobe, fit­ted to my right shoul­der, pro­vides a vis­i­ble source in low-light con­di­tions in case of search and res­cue, flash­ing brightly for an ex­tended pe­riod. It weighs about as much as the whis­tle I also carry, both be­ing ex­cel­lent for pin­point­ing my po­si­tion.

6 HELIOGRAPH: This is an ex­cel­lent piece of equip­ment to carry in a pocket. Vis­i­ble for miles when di­rected to­wards a boat, he­li­copter or land and re­flect­ing sun­light, it was rec­om­mended to me by a Search and Res­cue he­li­copter crew­man I got chat­ting to at a show. Weigh­ing next to noth­ing, it takes up lit­tle space, does not rely on bat­ter­ies, and is easy to use.

7 SCIS­SORS: Kept in a pocket, these small, gen­eral-pur­pose scis­sors can cut braided fish­ing line and ca­ble ties eas­ily with­out the risks as­so­ci­ated with knives, and are used mostly on the kayak rather than in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion when in the water. 8 CA­BLE TIES: A few of these are also car­ried, pre­dom­i­nantly for use with my an­chor­ing sys­tem as break­out at­tach­ment points, as well as nu­mer­ous other uses for on­the-water re­pair or se­cu­rity.

9 PHYS­I­CAL MOD­I­FI­CA­TIONS: This only ap­plies to per­sonal cus­tomi­sa­tion for fit­ting ac­ces­sories. The folded-over strap ends are great for se­cu­rity, but if I can’t pull through, I can’t thread on. I cut and then tape or re-stitch once ac­ces­sories are added.

Knife, cut­ter and pouch at­tach­ment points al­ways seem to go the wrong way, so ex­tra straps of­ten need to be added.

Clips are at­tached to D-rings as leash­ing points, so it’s only a case of pulling tight.

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