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Even though we were safely med moored at Peake’s yesterday, we cast off at lunchtime to go for a two-hour test run to make sure that all of our boat repairs were solid. I’m happy to say, they seemed to be! With plans to sail back to Grenada today, after docking again, we dinghied over to Customs and Immigration and cleared out of the country. In fact, by the time most of you read this, we will likely already be underway. Normally we opt to do this passage overnight but without AIS, we decided that we’d rather dodge the big ships in the daylight as opposed to the darkness. Of course, this means that we’ll arrive in Grenada after dark but we can deal with that.

Our new depth gauge is working wonderfully!

Until our last passage to Trinidad, we had never put together an organized ditch bag. Given the issues that we were dealing with though, we thought that having one made sense so, just before taking off, we stuffed a number of items into a dry bag and tethered it to a half-full (so it would float) container of drinking water. Included in the bag, along with standard rescue and survival stuff, was our passports, wallets, boat papers and other significant documents. This started me wondering about where people store these things on a regular basis. In their ditch bag?

There was an incident a few years ago in Grenada where a newish boat caught fire during the night and the crew barely managed to escape. I think I read that they were able to grab their passports but not much else. We tend to keep important documents secure (hidden) on the boat but security and ease-of-access do not always go hand in hand. When you set off on a passage do you as a matter of course place your important documents (passports, wallets, etc.) into your ditch bag? Or do you leave them where they normally reside with plans to acquire them if you-know-what hits the fan? Curious minds want to know!

What’s in your ditch bag? Note, if you’re coming to Trinidad, leave the flare gun behind.

18 Comments

  1. There are many people that advocate keeping the original passport document locked away and having color photocopies of it in several places to aid in replacement. You could have copies (laminated or sealed in a ziplok bag) in your ditch bag, leaving you the option of grabbing the originals if you have time. In a true emergency, where there’s no time to get to the originals, you can rest easy, knowing that you have copies in the ditch bag.

    Another option is to scan copies of the passports that you could store in the cloud somewhere (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc…). Once you return to civilization, you would just need a web browser and a printer to access your scanned copies which would aid you in getting replacements.

  2. Copies in the ditch bag.

  3. We took photos of all important docs which we keep in the “cloud”. The ditch bag has photocopies of passports, a spare credit card and some cash. Real docs are stashed away at all times. We use voided passports for daily use like car rentals, etc.

  4. Mike – we bought on eBay, years ago, a surplus hand squeeze water-maker. It was surplus US Air Force, part of the ditch bag used by air crew. It cost about $ 90 and is about the size of your fist. It is “pickled” and in our ditch bag. If you’ve got to wait a week or more to be picked up, this could make a difference.

  5. I put laminated color copies of our passports and Captains’ credentials in the ditch bag. I am sure that any customs agency will understand.

    A friend of mine lost his C&C 44 in a storm on the way back to Charleston from Bermuda. He and his crew ended up in Bermuda without any documentation. He explained their situation to a Customs employee who said “keep talking, I’m listening” and then let them into the country.

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