Home Technical Sailing Videos What Do We Keep In Our Ditch Bag?

What Do We Keep In Our Ditch Bag?

written by Terysa November 25, 2017

The question of what to keep in a ‘grab’ or ‘ditch’ bag is often debated on internet forums or down the local sailor’s pub.

We try and keep life simple while being as safe as possible, and therefore have whittled down the list of possible items down to what we feel is essential to our survival if we’re ever in a situation at sea where we have to abandon our yacht.

The liferaft also has a survival kit inside which contains a number of items such as 24 hours of mirror, whistle, water rations, sea sickness tablets, fishing line, flares, space blankets, torch, knife and a signalling cheat sheet for all of our signalling needs. The grab bag is to be taken into the liferaft in addition to the survival kit already packed inside.

Contents of Our Grab Bag:

  • Spare EPIRB (we have a redundant EPIRB as we were sent an additional EPIRB after a product recall)
  • VHF radio with spare batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Emergency rations (high calorie bars)
  • Tin opener
  • Signalling mirror
  • Whistle
  • Sea sickness tablets
  • Glow in the dark sticks (Paaartyyyy!)
  • Torch
  • Compass
  • Laminated copies of passports, ships papers, insurance

There’s clearly some redundancy here- but there’s no harm in taking spares if they don’t take up too much space.

We also keep an EPIRB (the one that wasn’t recalled) in the companionway, which we would ideally take with us- but if the boat sinks, it floats free and self activates anyway.

A large jerry can of water is kept on the aft starboard side-deck which would hopefully be easy to take with us, and we also keep a large container full of spare flares in the stern lockers (on the top, so we don’t have to unpack the entire locker, which seems to happen pretty much whenever we need to grab our fins, or a bucket, or the boat hook, or anything else we might need on a daily basis).

It’s worth noting that we don’t know how much time we’d have in this hypothetical emergency, so everything we absolutely need is kept at the stern or in the companionway. We estimate that we could get all four items listed above- grab bag, EPIRB, water and flares- within 30 seconds. However, if we have more time (we could have an hour or more- who knows), we’d also take items such as our yellow brick tracker, tinned or packaged food, passports and original papers (they’re kept in a water-resistant bag), laptops, warm clothing, and whatever else we feel we absolutely must take with us in the heat of the moment.

What other items do you keep in your grab bag??


Nick & Terysa

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Ed Grant November 28, 2017 at 5:47 am

High visibility dye…Anything to increase visibility and help air searchers.

Nicholas Toogood November 28, 2017 at 1:37 pm

All that electronics is great, I’m sure its invaluable to get you in the right area if someone falls overboard but how good is it in the last 100m ? A friend of mine was on a fully crewed yacht which lost someone overboard in the English Channel. When they eventually got him back on board he said they had sailed right past him three times and not seen or heard him. We also have inflateable personal dan buoys on our lifejackets. When activated they erect a six foot inflateable column topped with a yellow flag over the MOB. At £15 each it seems like a good investment to me.


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