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Handbags and Grab bags

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

The importance of a Grab Bag and its contents.

If all heck breaks loose and we need to leave Poppet (our tiny Atlantic going 'dinghy with a lid) in a hurry, our grab bag contains essential safety equipment and supplies to sustain us until help arrives.

Our bag also contains personal ID (passports), reading glasses, cash and credit cards which we might need should we end up separated from the boat and in a foreign country which we did not expect to visit. John-Kenneth (the skipper) has helped sailors and ocean rowers chose what to put in their bag as part of his consultancy service at

What is a grab bag?

A grab bag or ditch bag is a vital bag of equipment to have ready for the crew to take with them in the event of an emergency and having to abandon ship i.e. sinking, fire, capsize etc.

It is water-resistant, bright and easy to find, and has a set of sturdy handles.

Some of the items may be found in a liferaft... but what if you're not boarding a liferaft, or what if your liferaft is not a 24hr+ version? When you're in a really bad situation we are fans of the old saying "It's better looking at it, than looking for it!".

Our grab bag is a bright orange McMurdo 42l duffle bag. We were lucky enough to win it in a raffle! Though we had to fill it ourselves (with a little help from some of our sponsors).

Where to keep your grab bag?

Ours will be kept in its own space/locker under our companionway. If we have to leave the cabin in a hurry we'll have to pass it, if we are in the cockpit we'll be able to reach inside and grab it!

Practice / Regular Inspection

Once our gab bag is fully stocked we'll make sure that we can handle it easily, and that it fits through our main companion hatch with ease... we don't want to find out the hard way in an emergency!

Some of the items in the grab bag maybe have expiration/service dates. Food rations may spoil, batteries may discharge, and electrons like the EPIRBs and PLBs require periodic testing or servicing.

It is also a good idea to keep a checklist of the bag contents, and expiry dates of flares, medicines, medical supplies etc. Before sailing they should be checked to see if anything has been 'borrowed' from the bag, or if anything is close to needing replacement/inspection.

What is in our gab bag?

The bag contains a store of essential equipment which the crew can use to survive the elements, call for assistance, This list is a good start for four offshore sailing or ocean rowing grab bag...

Personal Items (1 for each crew member):

  • Passport

  • Spare Spectacles

  • Cash, Wallets, Credit Cards

  • Personal Medication


  • 'Bleedstoppers' catastrophic bleed control kit Blog Link (donated)

  • First Aid Kit (Cat C)

  • Extra Food/Drink Rations

  • Safety Knife

  • Sea Sickness Tablets

  • SOLAS Waterproof Torch + Spare Bulb + Spare Batteries

  • Foil Blanket

  • Manual Watermaker

  • Fishing Kit

  • Radar Reflector

  • Sunscreen (Sun Tan Lotion)

  • Non-lubricated/Non-spermicide Condoms (for freshwater collection and storage!)


  • A Shakespeare INFL8-5 Inflatable VHF Antenna External Link (donated)

  • Portable VHF

  • Portable GPS

  • Sat Phone

  • Portable Solar Charger

  • Spare batteries

  • Spare PLB (Personal Locating Beacon) / EPIRB


  • Traditional Flares

  • Odeo Distress Flare - Electronic Visual Distress Signal Device (eVDSD) External Link (donated)

  • Odeo Stobe Light - Electronic Visual Distress Signal Device (eVDSD) External Link (donated)

  • Signal Mirror

  • Signal Whistle


If you would like to find out more about donating to our charities, or sponsoring our adventure please visit the following pages: Our Charities / Sponsor Us / Shop

THANK YOU - From the Sofa To Sailboat Crew


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