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Thread: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

  1. #1
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    Default I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I am slowly but surely getting myself ready for building a boat and learning to sail and I'm making a gear list. I'm thinking right now about dry storage.

    Most of my adult boating has been warm weather canoe day trips and I just don't bring anything that shouldn't get wet. I am also definitely too casual about piling things in the boat and hoping I don't flip. I'd like to do better for sailing, preparing for worse weather and longer trips and the higher risks of learning a new skill in a new boat.

    I want to be able to pack warm, dry clothes and I'd like to "rig to flip" with everything lashed down in the boat. The boat (which isn't built yet) will likely be a small skiff with a wide-open cockpit area and no flotation/storage compartments.

    I think that I want a dry bag that I can clip to a thwart. I was looking online and seeing lots of range in sizes and prices. And I know nothing about the topic, so I have lots of questions:

    Can you fit a sweater and pants in 10L? Is a cheap, imported bag like https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Pak-Wat.../dp/B01GZCUCO0 going to keep my stuff dry if I capsize and it takes me 40 minutes to get back up and bailed out?

    I've seen very large, very expensive bags used on Roger Barnes's YouTube videos, almost looking like flotation bags under a bench, but I feel like this is a part of open boat sailing that I'm not finding too much information on.

    What do you use for dry storage on an open boat when messing around? Where would you start if you were a first-timer?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can offer,

    -Neil

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    A sweater and pants will fit in a 10L, generally, but I'd look for something a bit more robust than what you linked here. Cheaper drybags tend to have weak bucklets and fabric that's prone to creasing and cracking. Finding out your nice warm and dry clothes are in a busted dry bag is a bummer. The one you linked would work, but I wouldn't expect it to last very long.

    My background is whitewater, so a different use environment, but I've been happy with NRS, Watershed, and Jacks Plastic Welding bags over the years. The NRS are the 'worst' of the bunch, but perfectly adequate. I like the seal on the Watershed duffels more than other options with zippers - the zippers can jam and are a bit more fussy to close properly. A simple roll top with dual buckle closure should be fine for what you want. I'd go with a lighter color - makes searching around inside the bag easier.

    https://www.downriverequip.com/dry-bags-cid-10

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I'm a fan of fitted chests and bags in bags. The larger ZipLoc units have surprisingly versatile uses but need protection.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I have a collection of dry bags purchased over time as needed. Since they look different it helps to track what is in each, so if starting over I would buy different colors at least. For clothing I have a roll top duffle bag, more expensive than the sausage bags but it is easier to see what is in it and grab one thing. It helps to have only a few items in each bag, so size the bag to match the size of the stuff. Look at where they will fit in the boat also. I have had only one type bag fail, they were an expensive name brand, very sturdy and waterproof, but were glued at the seams and the glue failed on 2 bags on the boat in very hot sun one day. The expensive company said they tested for waterproof but not sun proof, and would not warranty the failures.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I like smaller bags, different colors, so I can more easily stay organized.

    If you are rigging to flip--that is anticipating turtling--I might suggest boxing in thwarts, sternsheets and foredecks. This is commonly done both to provide stowage and add flotation....at the expense of some weight and added build time.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    You can never have too many clamps or drybags. I prefer smaller and mid-sized over larger. Lots of different colors. I write YEADON on all mine with magic marker. I also tend to have a few that just say FOOD or SNACKS, as those are my favorite contents.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I've had really good luck with stuff from REI and they stand behind what they sell. They do have drybags on sale at the moment: https://www.rei.com/c/bags/f/f-waterproof

  8. #8
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I first learned of "dry bags" several years ago while on a European river cruise down the Rhine. While visiting the city of Basel, Switzerland we were having lunch on a terrace overlooking the river, and noticed quite a few folks swimming/floating down the river! Our guide informed us that it's quite a popular daily event. She went on to explain that during their lunch hour, many city folk who work near the river will shed their clothes, stuff them into a "dry bag" and float a ways down the Rhine! They then emerge from the river, dry off, get dressed and return to work via bus or tram! The bag not only keeps their clothes dry, it also serves as a float. What a way to spend your lunch hour!!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I've used one of the 40 liter ones you posted since 2017 and have had no complaints regarding durability. I usually stuff a beach towel, spare clothes, large water bottle, and small lunchbox into it at the beginning of a daysail. Eventually the lunchbox and water bottle come out and stay on the sternsheets. I'd probably go with a few smaller ones if I were to do it again though... stuff can work its way to the bottom and get lost.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    I'm a fan of fitted chests and bags in bags. The larger ZipLoc units have surprisingly versatile uses but need protection.
    This sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I understand. Can you say more or do you have any pictures?

    In my imagination I'm thinking of a wooden box with a lid that latches on (and drain holes in the bottom?) and then things in ziploc bags inside the "locker"? And the box is lashed to the boat? Interesting DIY possibilities, hmm...

    -Neil

  11. #11
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I did a dry bag test and review for Small Boats a year or two ago. Based on that, a few thoughts:

    1. I use 2 large Watershed dry bags (Yukon size. I got them for serious whitewater (Grand Canyon) and they really do keep everything dry even under full immersion, if you seal them properly. However, the "ziploc" type rubber seal is a bit fussy, and takes longer to seal than a zipper. So, I pack things in these bags that I know I will not need until reaching camp for the night (tent, sleeping gear, food, stove, books, etc.). This kind of bag absolutely keeps everything dry. These are about 3,300 cubic inches, so pretty big. I have gone 3 weeks between resupply points on trips using these bags (on fresh water).

    2. I think, for sailing, I'd prefer a zipper bag--waterproof drysuit zippers. Contrary to what offbelayknife posted (aren't contrasting opinions great?), I think they'd be much more convenient, especially if needing/wanting to get into the bags during the day, on the boat. And my boat isn't likely to turtle--I suspect the Watershed bags are a bit overkill (which is way better than underkill).

    3. Cheap dry bags ain't cheap. They are (eventually, or maybe right away) wet. Good bags will be expensive at first (kind of), but my Watershed bags have lasted 10 years now, with lots of use every year and no leaks. You do need to use some protectant spray on the rubber seals to avoid UV damage.

    4. I much prefer a duffel style bag--the wide mouth closure makes them easier to get into and find things than a narrow roll-top bag. But a wide duffel style bag with a roll-top closure will not stay completely dry under immersion (I tested this--all the zipper bags and the Watershed bags stayed dry; the roll-top duffel I tested did not).

    5. I much prefer having 2 large bags. If I'm camping ashore, I only have 2 bags to carry. Then I open them at the campsite and sort through at leisure. Snacks, small items I want during the day, etc., all go in smaller bags, or onboard sealed compartments. Stuff for camping goes in the 2 big bags. Having tried this system, and also (previously) used lots of little bags, I would never go back to lots of little bags.

    6. If you have a lug rig, and need to sit/kneel on top of a bag for raising/lowering sail, it helps to pack only soft items in one of the 2 big bags (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pads, etc.). Put all the hard/crushable stuff in the other bag, under the yard, where you won't wreck anything by kneeling on it.

    7. Using large bags lashed in alongside the centerboard (if that's how your boat is laid out) gives you LOTS of onboard floation, and reduces the amount of water that can come aboard in a capsize, AND also reduces the free surface area to minimize the instability of the sloshing effect.

    OK, lots of thoughts, I guess.

    I've been doing this a while, so my opinions are not entirely uninformed. But there are many other ways to keep stuff dry, and many different approaches. Good luck!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  12. #12
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    Default

    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    And remember one thing....
    A waterproof bag / container for your mobile phone in you pocket.. I've seen lots of soggy ex phones.. Not mine it's waterproof , but it only make phone calls nothing else..
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  14. #14
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I've done a lot of white water canoe tripping and some sail camp cruising. The roll top dry bags work well enough. Seal them carefully and don't try to over fill them. For tripping I use a very large dry bag and then for critical items (sleeping bag, extra clothes) I use another separate dry bag inside the large one for extra insurance. The inner ones can be a lighter fabric like silnylon since they are protected by the outer bag.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Palmer View Post
    I've done a lot of white water canoe tripping and some sail camp cruising. The roll top dry bags work well enough. Seal them carefully and don't try to over fill them.
    I'd agree, if you mean the narrow closure standard roll-top bags. But the wide-mouth duffel style dry bag I tested did leak a bit when immersed. It would still probably be fine for small boat sailing in most conditions. But then, I like to be absolutely sure to have a dry sleeping bag and tent at night...

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    been using DRY BAGS for over 30 years

    there is NO ABSOLUTE DRY BAG

    bags by nature can and will eventually fail

    abraision puncture UV and improper closing(the most common)

    all that said NeilMB you are on the proper track for CYA which is necessary if you plan on returning each n every time you venture out

    WI-Tom does the kind of sailing you spec'd in the OP and is quite successful at it

    here is one way you can achieve your goal(stolen pictures i hope they show)

    these were made from smaller pieces of wood epoxied together

    38250006276_ce16fe374f_c.jpg

    then they were epoxied to the hull in strategic locations for lashing

    38250005976_85af831c30_c.jpg

    the dry bags stay put out of the way in transit under sail and even when the boat takes a nap

    26530334579_c9594288c3_c.jpg

    for packing clothes i use 2 gallon zip-locs to separate items inside the dry bags

    the above mentioned suggestion to either colorize your bags or label them in some manner is spot on

    i have used these practices for both open boating and motorcycle adventure touring with the only failures being self generated

    for over night or extended adventuring i will place my sleeping system components in smaller dry bags which travel inside larger dry bags

    BON CHANCE

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  17. #17
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I'm a terrible organizer, very much in the "out of sight, out of mind" camp so opaque bags can be an issue. To assist I've found a few clear roll-top bags for the "miscellaneous" bits of gear, whatever you need will always be at the bottom, but at least you can see it down there.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  18. #18
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    One note on cinching them down with cam straps: Dry webbing can fairly easily cut through the drybag fabric. If you're really cranking them in, wet the strap first.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    I just ordered two of these from earthpak. the price seems very reasonable and they had good reviews. The 20L size fits my foul weather jack, f.w. pants, a sweater, gloves, sunhat, warm socks and some odds and ends. The newest model has an outside zipper pocket that will be good for bug goo and sun block. each bag comes with a phone case that appears very dry so far. it also has a shoulder strap, which doubles as a lashing strap. https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Waterpr...38152679&psc=1

    i also have a 50L bag from REI that I use for sleeping bag, sleeping pad, many changes of clothes, and other things to keep dry for sleeping and wearing. I do keep that under a cuddy. it cost quite a bit more but is very nice.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    From my years of using dry bags for sailing, canoeing, kayaking and rafting:

    1. Some dry bags are expensive because they are designed to be lightweight. This is important to packpackers and to canoeists facing long portages. It matters not at all to small boat sailors and the lightweight bags are less durable and less able to withstand heavy use. Don't get lightweight bags for use on a small sailboat. The one caveat is that the lightweight bags are nicer to user in some ways but I still wouldn't use them on a small boat since they are not that durable, at least in my experience. They are more designed to be contained within a larger container such as a backpack.

    2. That said, the really cheap, heavy bags also don't hold up as well as the somewhat higher quality bags. But I got an amazing amount of use out of the cheap bags I got at a surplus store years ago before a college canoe trip so the cheap bags are not completely useless.

    3. Dry bags should not be relied on to keep really critical things dry. I have no problem putting clothes and sleeping bags in good dry bags. A few drops of water on any of those things won't really matter that much. Cell phones and critical camera gear may deserve something like a Pelican case (a brand of hard case that is really waterproof). I routinely put my cell phone in a dry bag for canoeing but on most of my canoe trips I can figure that the dry bags will be immersed for a relatively short period of time and are much more likely to be rained on than sit in the water for long periods of time. If you might be in a situation where the dry bag might be immersed in a swamped boat for an hour or more while the boat is towed or rowed slowly to shore, I might consider getting a Pelican case for critical electronics. I have various sorts of hard cases for my important camera gear. Of course if photography is not important to you then leaving the camera at home is the safer solution.

    Here's a good guide to dry bag sizes: https://coremountaineering.com/how-m...strated-guide/

    It's always a trade-off between using a larger bag that you can fit everything in but what you want always seems to be a the bottom, and smaller bags that don't leave things as deeply buried but require more bags to hold the same amount of gear and require more organization so you are not digging through multiple bags to find what you need.

    Don't underestimate how sturdy the attachment system needs to be to keep a dry bag in place in a swamped boat, especially if it's also reserve buoyancy. It's much better if the dry bag stays right where you stowed it rather than moving all over based on a single-point attachment but a strong, single-point attachment at least keeps the dry bag with the boat.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    There are some things - such as metal items - that are better in one of these - a pyrotechnic flare container. I find I can pick these up for the price of a dry bag of equivalent size. They are intended to float, they are made of thick polyethylene, with a good seal on the lid.

    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 09-09-2021 at 02:03 PM.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  22. #22
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Those look brilliant. I've modified spackle buckets before to take a screw top, but they're always round and round is bothersome. Does the lid have a recess for a gasket?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by offbelayknife View Post
    Those look brilliant. I've modified spackle buckets before to take a screw top, but they're always round and round is bothersome. Does the lid have a recess for a gasket?
    Totally brilliant, but I'm having trouble finding a source online. I can find lots of pictures of them, but I think that I'm not coming up with the correct search terms.

  24. #24
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilMB View Post
    Totally brilliant, but I'm having trouble finding a source online. I can find lots of pictures of them, but I think that I'm not coming up with the correct search terms.
    https://www.landfallnavigation.com/k...las-flare.html

    I haven't found the same container without the flares yet, but lots of options are popping up for "flare container".

  26. #26
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by offbelayknife View Post
    Those look brilliant. I've modified spackle buckets before to take a screw top, but they're always round and round is bothersome. Does the lid have a recess for a gasket?
    Yes, they come with a gasket.

    A UK source is here:

    https://www.marinescene.co.uk/en/pro...MaAigIEALw_wcB
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  27. #27
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Great discussion of dry bags and dry storage options! I might however hold off on purchasing dry bags until you have the boat the you want to put them in. This will save you some money as you can then make sure that they fit the space you have.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by oakcanoe View Post
    Great discussion of dry bags and dry storage options! I might however hold off on purchasing dry bags until you have the boat the you want to put them in. This will save you some money as you can then make sure that they fit the space you have.
    Everyone always buys stuff ahead of when it might be needed, just as a psychological support!

    Arthur Ransome describes himself doing this in the opening chapter of “Racundra’s First Cruise”, an old friend, the wife of another old friend, complained of “Ned turning the house into a chandlery”, and here is the corner of the living room devoted to stuff bought for my boat during lockdown!

    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  29. #29
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    It might be new and unused, but I can't resist the urge to spray that McMurdo bag down with sanitizer.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: I know nothing: dry bags for day sailing?

    The current “Yachting World” has a review of eight dry bags.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

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