What should you have in a ditch bag?

What is a Ditch bag? 

Well, a ditch bag is something you hope you will ever need to touch but if you do need it, you will be happy that you took the time to properly pack it. A ditch bag, also called an abandon ship bag,  contains key items needed to summon help and to survive in a life raft while waiting for rescue to arrive. A ditch bag must be kept in an accessible location onboard, ready for immediate removal should the need arise Essentially, if your ship is sinking , you don’t want to be running around the boat packing up emergency things you think you might need . Being lost at sea can be a a sailors worst nightmare and we hope to help you be prepared enough to comfortably survive at least a week if things were to go terribly wrong.  I have put  together my list of  the ditch bag items we have in our bag and attached them to amazon links. I am an affiliate with Amazon so anything you buy from my links will give me a small commission at no extra cost to you.

For those who are new to my blog, Ahoy matey! My name is Megan and I live aboard a sailboat with my family of 3 and our fur baby Miss Luna Bagel. We have been full time cruisers since March of 2020 and are building a brand for traveling education in which we hope to one day fund our app idea for liveaboard boaters. 

Thank you for checking out my blog and let me know what you think in the comments below! 

Also! We have a Youtube, Instagram and Tiktok, Pinterest, and Etsy store that is filled with epic nautical humored gear. Take a look around our social presence and let us know what you think! You can find us anywhere as Sailing Spyridon. Thanks for being here and safe boating ya’ll!


Here are the contents in our Ditch bag

First aid kit ( we have stocked ours with much more than it came with, we also have a suture kit, iv set up, and epipens ) Trauma pak

Sterilized cotton swabs

MRE food sources — Here are a few different Emergency food options


Emergency Dinghy repair kit

Medical tape, 

Lots of saline both in iv kit and bottle, 

Sterile bandages the extra strips if needed.

Pain killers

 O.R Towels

flares and a flare gun, 


Emergency Blanket

Or a super compact sleeping bag!


A booklet from American cross which explains basic first aid guide help

Release dye

Glow sticks 

Tampons, pads, tooth paste, tooth brushes , floss, sunscreen, deodorant

Body warmer pads

Fishing gear kit, – we made our own but here is one on amazon

Water bottles



( Not in bag but ready to grab is our hand helds VHF, Sat phone , and passports)

Weed – Just kidding-

Sleeping pills


a bottle of rum

2 cigars

Extra foul weather gear set


Notebook and pen


Now If you are wondering what to look for when buying a ditch bag here are some suggesstions:

Positive flotation: Since the bag may land in the water before you get it into the raft, your loaded ditch bag must float. Look for foam buoyancy panels sewn into the bag. When flooded, a buoyant ditch bag loaded with gear should not sink.

Water-resistance: Ditch bags do not necessarily need to be waterproof, but water should not easily enter the bag. Non-waterproof items within the bag can be placed in waterproof dry bags, which will also enhance the buoyancy of the bag.

Visibility: Make sure the bag is an easy-to-see color, like bright yellow or orange. For visibility at night, some ditch bags include reflective tape. Where lacking, refective tape can be purchased separately and sewn onto the bag.

SOLAS grad parachute signal flare

SOLAS-grade flares are preferred because they can be seen for the greatest distance.

Inner pockets and dividers: Rescue and survival items must be organized and easy to see. Look for pockets and/or dividers to separate flares, medical items, food, water and other gear. Some bags include interior lanyards to keep key gear from floating away.

Carry straps and tethers: Every ditch bag should include a tether with a clip that enables you to secure the bag to yourself (if you must swim to the raft) or to the raft itself before you get in.

Adequate size: The bag must be large enough to contain survival gear plus food and water for you and your crew.



Dont skip out on the ditch bag.

Boats catch on fire, and collisions happen, Bilges fail, weather can get crazy, the last thing you want to be thinking about is what you should be putting in the ditch bag. Take your time and invest in a proper ditch bag that will be filled with things that will make an uncomfortable time a little more comfortable. 

If you are still with me! Hi! Thanks for reading and if you have any other suggestions for things to add into the ditch bag leave a comment below so other boaters reading this post can see some more options!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: