Ready, set, sail: Stocking our ditchbag

Our list of things to do is dwindling, as it should be given that we set sail in just three days. Today, we finished stocking our ditchbag. If we ever have to launch our life raft and abandon ship, this will be the first, and potentially only bag, we will grab. During our prior excursions, we’ve carried survival supplies, but the extent of the items was far more limited, as we were cruising inland or coastal waters only. For our upcoming adventure, the supply list was expanded dramatically and was informed by the recommendations of others. The bag is a waterproof dry backpack, and the list below is the final inventory.

DitchbagFirst aid kit

  • 3 instant cold packs
  • Self-adhering bandage tape
  • Chapstick w/SPF
  • 26 bandaids
  • 18 1/2×4″” steri-strips
  • 18 1/4×3″” steri-strips
  • 3″ ace wrap bandage
  • 10 4×4″ gauze pads
  • 3 8×10″ gauze pads
  • 1 roll waterproof tape
  • 1 hemorrhage-control combat gauze
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Neosporin
  • 5 oral rehydration salts
  • Sunscreen

Nutrition (enough for 2+ weeks)

  • MRE bars (8)
  • Protein bars
  • Water rations (64 4 oz. pouches)
  • Water flavor electrolyte packages


  • Copies of passports
  • The Red Thread documentation
  • Credit card copies


  • Ponytail holders
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats
  • Change of clothes
  • Space blankets
  • Space sleeping bags


  • Quick dry washcloth
  • Quick dry towel
  • Toothbrush w/toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pair of glasses (for Jessie)
  • Spare contact lenses

Emergency signaling/navigation

  • Signaling mirror
  • Flare gun w/flares
  • Handheld flares
  • Whistle
  • Compass


  • Fishing gear
  • Light sticks (chem lights)
  • LuminAID light
  • Flashlight (w/fresh batteries)
  • AA battery pack/holster (for VHF)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Pencils
  • Waterproof notebook
  • Carabineers
  • Rope
  • Duct tape
  • Playing cards
  • Miniature dry pouch
  • Pouch for bailing water

In the event we ever have to abandon The Red Thread, we will also grab our EPIRB; DeLorme InReach Explorer; floating, waterproof handheld VHF radio; our satellite phone; and, of course, each other. In addition to these items, our Revere 6-person life raft, which was re-certified last fall, is stocked with other Coast Guard-approved supplies.

Any other last-minute items we should consider?

10 thoughts on “Ready, set, sail: Stocking our ditchbag

  1. Hi guys!! This is Sv Curtsy!! We are so ecxited for you , and will travel with you in spirit!
    I was reading your supply list, and wanted to tell you about Doug and Martha on SV Thea, they travelled south last year, their boat is now on the hard in La Paz, still standing and no damage thank goodness, but, Martha received a Stingray sting, very dangerous, and she wants to tell all of us to take many, MANY sterilized pads with you, they had 2 packs which were gone in a week.
    So, bring more bandades, and fresh bottles of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide!!!
    The wound had to be treated every few hours, and thats just one small wound!!
    I hope nothing at all will happen to you , but this is good to know!!
    Love your blog, keep writing, i had huge PC problems, but have a new one now so will be writing again!
    Hugs from Bert and Mejan!


    • Bert & Mejan,

      So nice to hear from you! We have some of the supplies you mentioned in our medical kit. I’ll write more about that aspect of our preparations soon! Time has escaped me, and I haven’t gotten around to discussing those items just yet. Your advice for many sterilized pads is a good one, and I’m happy to report we have a stockpile! Speak to you soon! Cheers, Jessie


  2. Howdy. We are getting our liferaft repacked and got some abandon ship ideas from Mark at Avalon Life Rafts in LA. He recommended we keep chafing gear around the raft so it doesn’t have holes in when we need it to inflate and include something in the raft that makes you want to get to shore and keep your morale high. We’ll include a few pictures of family and friends. When we’re on passage I don’t plan to keep my wallet in my pocket so it’ll end up in the ditch bag so it’s there if we need it.


    • Hi Nate! Including photos of family is an excellent suggestion. We did not have time to have any printed before we set off on this stretch of the journey (Seattle to San Francisco), but I am going to add some when we arrive there. Thank you for a great idea. ~Jessie


  3. What about the India book to keep you company along with Raggedy Ann? And of course, a bottle of scotch to keep you both warm 😉


    • The India book is aboard, no doubt. It’s Rainbow Bright, not Raggedy Ann, thank you very much! And we have more than one bottle of scotch…which will remain stowed and unopened while we are at Neptune’s mercy on the sea! See you in San Fran, my friend! ~Jessie


  4. An old french manual I found in a life raft recommended carrying pantyhose and lipstick ! The pantyhose, they say, are good for straining water to catch plankton to eat, and the lipstick comes in handy in case you need to write a waterproof message on the body of your unconscious partner when he/she is airlifted into the helicopter. I think they just wanted to make sure there were some dress-up clothes on board in case the pack of cards gets old ! Looking forward to following your adventures as we wind down our European sailing season here.


    • That’s hysterical, Maria and Patrick…BUT I must say, those sound like excellent ideas. If we have to make our way into our life raft ever, I’d really like to have supplies that are both practical and of aesthetic use 😉 thanks for following along…we’ll be catching up on some of your latest posts now that we are officially tied up in San Francisco!! ~Jessie


  5. Pingback: Ready, set, sail: Medical kit and health readiness | s/v The Red Thread

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