“Get the Grab Bag!”


The time to consider what you would need and want in your grab bag is when you don’t need it. The time is now. Of course, it may depend on the type of sailing and distances you plan to cover, but there are some basics you should have. Some of those will be included in the life raft you have, but depending on the type of raft, you will probably want additional supplies. Here are a few things you may want in your own grab bag:


Sea sickness medication

Sun screen lotion

Additional water

Additional flares (including smoke flares for daylight use)

Laser light signaling device with spare batteries

VHF radio, charged with spare battery


InReach or SPOT satellite tracking and communications device

GPS with spare rechargeable batteries

Laminated list of contacts with email and phone numbers

Solar battery charger

Two small, rechargeable flashlights

Spare food

Snack bars

Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)

Solar blankets (small, compact, kept in dry wrapping)

Small, handheld fishing equipment and spare hooks (safely stored)

Small knife with a blunt tip to prevent punctures to the life raft

Small basic medical kit (with any addition crew-required medication)


Spare cash


Some of the above items may seem redundant, but each has their own specific use.  If one fails, another may be able to provide a work-around solution.  Some may work better during the day or night. Others will provide long or short-range communications, first gaining the attention of rescue services and later enabling direct communication with rescuers on site. All of the items can help you, and depending on how far you are from assistance, some may be critical.  We often have passports in one place, spare water in another and the grab bag in yet another location. Consolidating as much as possible in the grab bag prior to departure means that in an emergency you will require less time to get what you need and get into the life raft.

Years ago, it became obvious to me that when an emergency strikes, one is either prepared to meet that event and take control of the situation or the situation will control the people affected. While offshore you may never need to use your grab bag or its contents, but if you do, you will want to be prepared to get the right things in a hurry. One way or another you should have a plan, practice it, and be able to execute it quickly.  What would you do? What else would you want in your grab bag?


You can email your thoughts to: george@bwsailing.com

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