Abandon Ship - Checklist

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          You have only about 3 minutes to abandon ship if you have a major leak and can't stop it. That includes the time spent assessing the damage and trying to plug or correct the problem.


  1. All crew put on their PFDs.
  2. One transmits May Day on the SSB and the VHF while you still have power.
  3. Others assemble the following items in the cockpit:
    • EPIRB;
    • Yellow Bottles containing flares;
    • Ditch Bag;
    • Emergency dribag of warm clothes
    • Emergency watermaker;
    • Leatherman knife;
    • Ship's Log, Handheld VHF, and GPS;
    • Dinghy oar;
    • Seat cushions (floatable);
    • Ziplock bag with wallets, passports, tickets, and boat papers; and
    • First Aid kit
  4. One person releases water jerry jug (with line) from its deck tiedowns
  5. Other person puts Leatherman knife in pocket and small grabbed items in Ditch Bag
  6. One person passes the items from the cockpit to the person on the deck
  7. All inspect the life raft tether attachment to the boat to make sure it is secure
  8. Deploy the life raft on leeward side of the boat (so it stays close to the boat and is shielded from the weather)
  9. Tie Ditch Bag, yellow bottles and water jug with rolling hitches to life raft tether
  10. Throw the yellow bottles and water jug overboard
  11. One climbs into the life raft. Make every effort to climb into life raft from mother boat. It's incredibly difficult to haul yourself into a life raft from the water.
  12. Others hand the Ditch Bag, watermaker, cushions, clothing, and oar into the life raft and immediately climb in
  13. Haul on the tether to retrieve Yellow Bottles and water jug
  14. Activate the EPIRB and leave it activated
  15. Let the tether out as far as possible and prepare to cut it--but only when the mother boat is clearly sinking. Note however, that a liferaft cannot be towed or held alongside for long without suffering damage.
  16. Take seasick pills out of Ditch Bag, and swallow

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This page was last modified on:
August 9, 2009