Sailing First Aid Kit


Remember that childhood car game I packed my bags and in it I put? My sister and I used to play that all the time as kids. It kept us busy during long drives to fun adventures with Grandma and Grandpa. Fun and games aside, packing our boat’s first aid kit is serious business and I’ve spent way too many hours online researching and talking to my doctor to figure out what would work best for us.

The easiest route would be to just go out and buy one of these complete marine first aid kits, but what cruising crew on a budget can afford to drop $250 for things you hope to never use?

Luckily my doctor is an avid sailor himself and completely understood our situation. His recommendation was to just buy a basic $20 first aid kit and add what we thought we may need. He also wrote me a few prescriptions which I immediately filled before my health insurance ran out.

After spending an embarrassing number of additional hours online researching, Jason and I decided a pre-made kit really wasn’t for us. We’d be supplementing pretty much all the key items in the kit anyway and didn’t want all the extra trash on board that comes along with the single use packaging. We already had a bunch of items but made a list of the things we still needed. After about $30 at Walmart, our kit was fully stocked!

A few of the items we have are still stashed on our boat, but the picture above shows the main contents of our kit. Everything is neatly organized in it’s own labeled Ziploc bag. This not only lets us  find what we are looking for as quickly as possible in an emergency, it also saves space and reduces the amount of packaging/waste we have on board. Some of the items are only included because we had them on hand and likely wouldn’t be purchased new (for example, Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape and Arctic Ease Cryotherapy Wrap).

Here’s what we’re keeping on board in our sailing first aid kit:


  • Benedryl
  • 2 Epipens – prescription
  • Daily Allergy Med
  • 2″x3″ Non Stick Pads
  • 3″x4″ Non Stick Pads
  • 3″x4″ Bandaids
  • Small Circle Bandaids
  • Knuckle Bandaids
  • Large Knee Bandaids
  • Regular Bandaids
  • Large Bandaids
Bites and Stings
  • Snake Bite Kit
  • StingEze Max 2
  • Fluconazole 150mg tablet – prescription
  • Nitrofuritanoin Mono/Mac 100mg tablets – prescription
  • Burn Jel Plus
  • Aloe
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Povidone-Iodine (Betadine)
  • Tylenol Cold & Sinus PM
Motion Sickness (for more info on what really works for Kelley, check out this post)
  • Motion Sickness Patches – prescription
  • Dramamine
  • Ginger Gum
  • Sturgeron (picked up in the Bahamas)
Left Out
  • Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape
  • Halls
  • Arctic Ease Cryotherapy Wrap
  • Sports Tape
  • Tylenol PM
  • Ibuprofen
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • Melatonin
  • Eye Drops
Large Cuts
  • Butterfly Closures
  • Steri Strips
  • Suture Kit
  • Ciprofloxacin 500mg – prescription
  • Laxitive Pills
  • Pepto Bismol
Wound Care & Tools
  • Triple Antibiotic Cream
  • Plastic Syringe (no needle)
  • Tweezers
  • Forcepts
  • Cotton Balls
  • Q-Tips

Is there anything important that we’re forgetting? We’ll be doing a lot of sailing, swimming, diving, hiking, caving, etc.


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  1. I just found your blog while researching what to expect when we move to Florida next year and live aboard a sailboat. Just want to say, it’s AWESOME! I am learning LOTS. We can’t wait to upgrade from our 25 foot weekend sailboat to full-time boating.

    Part of our 5 year plan was to become paramedics and then RN’s. We’re working as paramedics now, so I might be able to make a few suggestions on your medical list:
    – Put the Motrin back in… it is best for muscular and bone injuries and helps reduce swelling as well as pain.
    – Add something you can use as eye wash, maybe a couple of bottles of sterile saline. Eye injuries are pretty common.
    – Get some of the Flagyl that you got for the dogs. If you get food poisoning, that’s what you will need.
    – Phenergan (anti-nausea big-gun) will help you a lot too. Especially if you find yourself with a bad stomach issue or sea sickness that is draining you to the point that you can’t function.
    – Sutures are going to suck without Lidocaine… stock up on the rum.
    – Add a few needles, too. They are useful for a lot of things including digging splinters out.
    – cravats/triangle bandages/bandanas – you can use these to make a splint, a sling, a tourniquet and tons of other stuff. Get a pack of those closable pins to use with them.

    For wounds, go to a local farm supply if there is one near you and get:
    – Vet Wrap (it’s a stretchy wrapping that works on people and animals). – Elasticon tape. It’s a stretchy tape that will stick in most wet situations and will stick to fur also.
    – Kerlix is a stretchy cotton bandage that is good for wrapping around dressings to keep them on (it’s the stuff that you see on TV all the time wrapped around people’s heads for head injuries – invaluable stuff).
    – A roll of dressing material (it can replace most of the non-stick pads) You cut it to size for wounds.

    Lastly, take a first aid class. There are a lot of tricks we use in the field to “MacGyver” patching people up with what’s on hand and that may give you ideas about what can be handled until you reach port and what you need to call rescue for.

    Good luck!!! I will be following along!

    • Thanks Christine! We learned first hand this week that eye wash and saline are a must add to the good ole kit. I was blowing out my computer keyboard when something cut my eye! We actually do have rolls of gauze and that vet wrap. Thanks for all the suggestions, will definitely add them in!