Ditch Bag Checklist
Date Posted: May 8, 2023
Source: Waterway Guide Explorer Magazine

When out at sea, there are many unforeseen circumstances that can arise, and one of the most daunting is the possibility of having to abandon ship. In such a situation, a well-prepared ditch bag can make all the difference between life and death.

We've compiled a comprehensive list of items to include in your "Ditch Bag" in case of emergency.


Rescue Items

  • Functioning, registered EPIRB
  • Handheld VHF radio (waterproof or in sealed pouch, with extra batteries)
  • Sea anchor, drogue and line
  • Manual inflation pump
  • Selection of flares (parachute and handheld) and smoke signals
  • Strobe light (may be present in inflatable PDF)
  • Flashlight & batteries (headlamp is ideal)
  • Whistle (may be present in inflatable PDF)
  • Signal mirror
  • Handheld GPS or compass (for position)
  • Small pair of binoculars (to confirm a boat or plane spotting before using flares)

Survival Items

  • Sponges and bailer (with handle)
  • Patch kit for inflatable dinghy or life raft (or emergency clamps)
  • Water (individually sealed or in collapsible containers)- at least 2 gallons per person
  • Emergency food rations and can opener (if needed)
  • Power bars
  • Prescription medications
  • Seasickness medications/remedies
  • First aid kit
  • Multipurpose tool or sailor's knife
  • Waterproof matches

Other Items

  • Solar blanket
  • Heavy-duty coated gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Sewing kit
  • Simple fishing gear (line, jigs, hooks, etc.)
  • Polypropylene line
  • Waterproof sunscreen and zinc oxide
  • Bug repellent
  • Ziploc bags (gallon size)
  • Paper & pen in Ziploc bag
  • Spare prescription glasses and sunglasses (polarized to reduce glare)
  • Laminated copies of passports or license
  • Cash ($50 in small bills)
  • Copy of the yacht's papers (including insurance)


What are some additional items that you have in your Ditch Bag?


Comment Submitted by Capt Steve Weisbrod - May 10, 2023

In addition to our Ditch Bag on the "big boat" we carry a small soft-sided cooler (6pak size) in our dinghy. In the cooler we have copies of the dinks paperwork sealed in a baggie. Cheap plastic space-blankets and rain ponchos ($.99 @ walmart), handheld flares, mirror, Tiny flashlight, Chem lights ticks, whistle, tiny first-aid kit, bug repellant, sunscreen, small tool kit and spark plugs and shear pin for the dink motor. We also carry a small vhf handheld. Look, just because you intend to take the dink to the beach or Tiki bar and back doesn't mean it's actually going to happen that way. ???? The little "dinghy bag" may be all that's between you and an overnight "dinghy drift". Oh, the little coolers come with a shoulder strap so if you have to tie up the dink in an area that's "iffy" you take the "dink bag" with you. ???? Overkill? maybe. But remember the sailor's rule...."if you have it, you won't need it".

Comment Submitted by Ann Frederick - May 10, 2023

There is an ointment with zinc in it, used for kids with diaper rash called "Butt Paste". It works well for sitting for hours in salt water in a life raft!

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