Mini Survival Kit For That Boat Trip


It’s summertime, and you’re planning to go with your buddies on a charter boat for an ocean-fishing day trip. While you’re deciding what flavor sandwich to pack or which beverages to throw in your cooler, have you thought about throwing together a mini survival kit… just in case?

What could possibly go wrong such that you even need to think about a survival kit?

While the odds are small, a boat always carries a certain amount of risk of going down. The boat could sink – for a variety of reasons… The boat could become disabled. Etc.

Point being, it should become habit for you to spend a few moments considering your safety and well being when outside your own controlled realm. In this example… boating.

Recently I went on an ocean fishing trip with some friends. Although the boat has an established history of being sea worthy, the fact that we were to hunt fishing grounds out to 30 miles from harbor, far enough not to see the seashore (that’s a tongue twister…), I thought about the items I would include in a backpack for “just in case”.

First, let me say that you are well ahead of the curve if you’ve even considered taking along ANY prep item for a “just-in-case” emergency scenario. Most people don’t give it a thought at all. Having said that, there is not a right or wrong list of things to bring on a short trip such as this, except to include certain “staples” such as water (and food).

In most regions around the U.S., a commercial boat will have the required supplies to comply with boating safety, and items to facilitate a rescue. The U.S. Coast Guard will likely be there for a search and rescue. However, you cannot assume that a distress call was issued at all, or that a timely rescue will result, or that you will be found at all. You know what they say when you spell “assume”… that it will make an ass out of u and me…

I made a list of these few extra items as I was throwing them in my pack…

In no particular order,

I brought extra water bottles than normal. You cannot drink seawater, so, this is the most important item of them all.

Water Bottle Sling
I brought this carrier sling that fits a typical size water bottle. I could secure one bottle and hang it over my shoulder if I had to, even if floating in the water after an accident.

Food bars
Small, high density/calorie food bars stored in a waterproof ziploc bag.

Flashlight (waterproof)
Goes without saying, you never know if you might need it. Note: Most flashlights are not waterproof. I brought this small Streamlight, which is waterproof.

Small First Aid Kit
Although the boat surely has one on board, having your own mini-kit is a bit of extra insurance. Some band-aids, antibacterial cream and wipes, gauze and tape.

Again, goes without saying the multitude of “what if” uses. I brought this Gerber E-Z Out for light duty and my Recon 1 for heavy lifting…

Signal Mirror
I bought this genuine signal mirror awhile ago, and hopefully will never need it. If you are floating in a vast ocean, this little device can save your life. Be sure that yours has a lanyard so as to hang around your neck (you can’t hold everything in your hands!)

If you are at sea and cannot see the shore (which is difficult even if fairly close due to the fact that you’re low in the water and waves are around you) and so long as you know the general direction to head back to shore (know your map ahead of time) then this could save your life. This compass is luminescent (glow in the dark), and could become invaluable at night. But be sure to attach a lanyard for hanging around your neck.

A zillion uses. On this trip I happened to bring a rope braided paracord for around the neck. You might also consider a paracord bracelet. You can make them yourself, or buy them.

Mylar Foil blanket
It’s small to pack, and will provide crucial warmth if you’re stranded during colder weather. The air temperature is always cooler over the sea than the land, so having one of these could be a lifesaver.
TITAN Two-Sided Emergency Mylar Survival Blankets, 5-Pack | Forest Camo

Motion sickness could dehydrate you due to vomiting, and quickly put your life at risk. These little pills could save your butt. Take one tablet an hour before departure. The newer variety are fairly non-drowsy.

Many people wear one habitually each day, but just be sure to wear one this day. Knowing how long you’ve been adrift could assist in supposing how many miles you’ve traveled and where you ‘might’ be on the map. It also helps you estimate how many miles you’ve traveled while under way at an estimated speed.

Lighter (in ziploc)
Although ‘fire’ and boats don’t mix, it could serve as a signaling method at night under controlled conditions.

A multitude of uses, including simply keeping the sun off your head.

A wide brim floppy hat is my hat of choice. It keeps sunburn off your face and neck.

A powerful signaling tool! Not all whistles are created equal, and be sure that it has a lanyard to hang around your neck if it becomes necessary.

Small Multi-tool
Self explanatory. I have a variety of these, but this day I took my Leatherman Squirt.

On the water, it becomes VERY uncomfortable for the eyes due to eye strain, so you must wear sunglasses. Polarized lenses are infinitely better.

Eyeglass straps
A very important and simple strap will keep your sunglasses (or eyeglasses) from dropping overboard, or if you’re in the water it will provide an extremely important measure of security to keep your sunglasses from sinking to the bottom should they fall off.

A sunburn will very much harm your ability to be effectively mobile, and it only takes minutes to burn. Use the highest SPF rating. While there is no true “waterproof” lotion, find the best that you can regarding water resistant.

VHF Radio Transceiver
I happened to have a few of these radios as part of my communications gadgets at home, so I brought with me a small portable handheld (in ziploc). This little electronic device could be a lifesaver at sea.

Small Inflatable Life Preserver
You can find kids pool donuts (tubes) or swim rings that you can blow-up and use as a flotation device to hold on to. All sizes and shapes to pick from. They are very small when deflated and good insurance in case you cannot obtain a life preserver flotation device from the boat itself (although it’s law that they carry enough).

Something Warm To Wear
Even though its summer and you probably won’t need it, have at least an extra shirt or article of clothing for additional warmth in case you’re overnight in the cool or a storm brews up.

In summary, these few additional items were thrown into my backpack with some other supplies for the day-trip. They hardly took up much extra space or weight in the pack. The point being to always spend a minute and think about it ahead of time. Add a few items to better your odds in case you need them for survival in an emergency.