In a few days I am off to live like a castaway on an uninhabited island ... for 30 days. It is said that most survival situations come to a conclusion in about 72 hours. That is an average, a rough estimate, since every survival situation is different. But it is true that for most natural calamities and disasters ... an in areas where there is a robust search and rescue establishment that kicks in ... 72 hours is about the time in which a rescue is effected.
But there are other kinds of scenarios when rescue might take a lot longer. And this is particularly true of sea survival scenarios. After their ships have capsized, people floating in life rafts have been rescued after days and weeks, and not hours. There are many who are forever lost at sea. Again, after a capsize, some lucky few find themselves washed ashore on some faraway island. Despite solid ground under their feet, rescue can take weeks and months.
It is this latter situation that I am trying to simulate ... being washed ashore on an uninhabited island after a boat capsize.
There is actually a fair amount of time that a boat takes to sink. That time, when sinking is imminent, can be well utilised to gather as much material as possible to make life a lot easier, first floating in the sea and then making a living when one reaches land. A ditch kit containing essential items to survive are a must for every person. Do not make the mistake of combining ditch kits for two or more people. Life can be chaotic when a boat is about to capsize and mistakes can be made. Moreover, people can get lost after a capsize, or drift apart when in the water. It makes no sense at all for one person to have the ditch kit and then get separated from the others who end up with nothing except the soggy clothes on their backs.
Always maintain a separate kit for each person and ensure that the kit is easily accessible topside so that you can quickly grab it when you realise you will have to abandon ship.
It is always a good idea to prepare for a possible disaster. That is exactly what a ditch kit is for and you can disregard this against better judgement. Sure, bad things happen to other people, but in that off chance that these "other people" turn out to be you, you will be mighty glad to have a ditch kit to yourself.
Here are the items that are a part of my ditch kit. These are the things that will hopefully make my life a lot easier when I have create my own micro civilisation on the island. There are eight things one needs to address in a survival situation - (1) Attitude, (2) Shelter, (3) Fire, (4) Water, (5) Food, (6) Signalling, (7) Navigation, and (8) First Aid. Add to that tools. Tools and cordage are two of the most difficult things to improvise in the wilderness. Sure it can be done, but it takes a lot of energy and practice. A good knife will bring a lot of peace to your stressed out situation. And so will cordage.
Here is a look at the contents of my ditch kit. I know there are things in this kit that I can easily drop. A poncho for instance. Or keep the poncho and ditch the bivy tent since the former can be converted into a shelter. Also a fishing line can be made from the inner strands of paracord and a hook designed from bone, branches, thorns, etc. Not entirely a necessity, but they are there in my kit. And these do not take any space at all. In fact, I can reduce the number of items by almost half and not feel their loss. This is more of a "luxury" kit than a minimalist kit.
Also, attitude, the first essential requirement of survival, is something you carry in your head and your heart. If you approach things positively, you will be surprised at the amount of improvisation you can come up with. With the wrong attitude but with all possible gear and equipment, you might actually have a much harder time.
Well, without further ado, here is the list...
Cotton ball tinder
Water bottle with nesting cup
Fishing line and hooks
SIGNALLING & ILLUMINATION
Camp chair cum potty
We all hope that nothing untoward is every going to happen to us. But it is for that one unfortunate time, when something does go South, that all these preparations and content of your kit come in handy. And please remember to practice using these items before you leave home. It is not a good idea to start to learn to swim when the boat is going down.
I wish that you are always accompanied by fair weather and following winds.