What To Bring

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Participants who attend Ephemerisle must bring all personal necessities to the event: food, shelter, water, fuel, necessary medications, and basic first aid supplies--even the very land beneath your feet, in the form of a boat or platform.

Listed below are the recommended items you should bring, depending on whether you're going as an individual, boat captain, or island commodore.


While the list below is long, most of the items are general purpose camping gear which you may already have. Most of the items are optional, but the whistle and headlamp are required to board some of the major islands. For the rest, these the author thinks most people should bring to derive the greatest enjoyment from Ephemerisle. The water specific gear (life vests, radios, etc) can often be found on Craigslist, Ebay or from second hand stores like Blue Pelican. Your friends may also have gear idling in closets that they would be happen to lend.

  • Clothing (hot and cold weather) -- Since you will likely be getting into the water frequently, it's a good idea to pick clothes that are cool, comfortable, and dry quickly. Temperatures can range from over 100 degrees during the day, to 60 degrees at night during mid July. High winds (35 mph) and rain are also a possibility.
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Handheld radio - Handheld radios are nice to have. In the event of an emergency (boat sinking, injury, crime), it can be used to contact other ephemerislers, the Coast Guard, or other boaters. Radios are also useful for finding your friends, arranging for boat rides, and communicating with other boat captains during boating maneuvers. The Standard Horizon HX290 is a good basic radio, as are most radios in the $100 - $120.00 range. Be careful with radios that cost under $60. They are often not waterproof, sufficiently powerful to have a clear conversation, nor especially durable. You want a radio that floats, is a rated waterproof to the IPX-8 standard, and a 5 W transmitter.
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) / life jacket -- Most sailing deaths happen not at sea, during a storm, but while the sailor is going from the dock to boat on calm, sunny days. Most boating deaths could be prevented if sailors wore life vests when outside of the boat cabin. Make your own safety decisions, but wearing a life jacket can be a very good idea. Coast Guard regulations require that children under the age of 12 wear a life jacket whenever outside of a boat cabin when a boat is underway. While the boats do come with PFD's, it's a good idea to bring your own. The PFD's provided with the boat are bulky and ugly, and you'll be much more likely to wear one if you buy a better PFD that is lighter and more attractive. If you plan to participate in water sports, paddle a kayak, or otherwise expect to get into and out of the water frequently, a a life vest with permanent flotation designed for paddling may be your best choice. On the other hand, if you plan to stay out of the water, and prioritize comfort, you may want to consider one of the auto-inflatable life vests. Note that inflatable life vests rely on a CO2 cartridge to inflate, which must be replaced ($10) each time it is triggered.
  • Water -- You can bathe using Delta water, but it's not safe to drink. You should plan to bring 1 gallon/person/day.
  • Tent -- If camping on a boat roof, or on BYOL, you will want a tent. The temperatures drop substantially at night, and high winds and rain can make camping in the open very uncomfortable. Don't forget to buy paracord to tie your tent down!
  • Bedding -- The Paradise Point rental boats do not come with sheets, pillows or blankets.
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Ear plugs -- Ephemerisle can be a noisy place, with the sounds of saws and drills running through the day, and loud music well into the night. Ear plugs make sleep much more comfortable. These earplugs will also conform to the shape of your ear canal, and can also be used to prevent water from entering your ear during swimming / water sports.
  • Sleep mask -- Many people sleep in close quarters at Ephemerisle, and a mask will help prevent the light from your neighbors from disrupting your sleep.
  • Sunglasses (with lanyard) -- Everything on your person should have a lanyard.
  • Food -- Meals are generally planned on a per boat basis. Bring whatever food you and fellow crew agree upon. Note that while the rental boats do have refrigerators, they do not keep food very cold. Plan to bring large cooler with plenty of ice (with ice runs to shore as necessary), if you want to bring perishables like meat and ice cream.
  • Mister -- To help keep you cool on the HOT afternoons.
  • Paracord -- 550 paracord has a multitude of uses, from creating a privacy tent over your bed, to tying down your art, to practicing your knots.
  • Sunscreen/bug repellent -- If you're a typical Silicon Valley engineer, you probably don't see much sun. This will help protect your pasty skin from both the sun and biting insects.
  • Headlamp Never go out on a boat at night without a headlamp or flashlight. Having a light is very helpful when crossing between boats, untying ropes, and navigating treacherous pathways. It will also make it easier for rescuers to see you if you fall in the water. Having a headlamp is so important that you should really have two, so that if you lose one, you have a backup.
  • Knife or multitool -- Useful for cutting rope, preparing food, and other miscellaneous tasks. A multi-tool with a marlinspike will help untie knots.
  • Whistle Useful if you need to call attention to yourself or others in the often loud environment. Please don't blow whistle for fun, as it conditions people to ignore the whistle.
  • 2 gallon Ziploc bags -- Ziploc bags have many uses. The 2 gallon size is a good size for storing clothing outfits. That way, if you drop your bag into the water (a common mishap), you'll have dry clothes. If you must pack wet/dirty clothes, the bags will keep them from dirtying your clean clothes. The one quart size is handy for protecting cell phones. Many a cell phone has died at Ephemerisle when someone unexpectedly finds themselves in the water.
  • Dry bag - As the name suggests, a dry bag is a waterproof bag that will keep your gear dry if you accidentally drop it into the water.
  • Dinghy / canoe -- Dinghy / canoe / kayak are very handy for getting between islands.
  • Knot tying guide -- Knot tying skills are fundamental to sailing / boating practice. At a minimum, you should know the bowline knot and the cleat hitch. This wallet guide will teach you those knots as well as other useful knots.
  • Lighting / decorations -- Adding LED lights and decorations to the interior of your boat can really improve the beauty and ambience
  • Sharpie marker -- Gear often gets jumbled together. Labeling your gear will help ensure you get it back eventually.
  • Cash -- You will need cash to pay for parking, dinghy rides to and from shore, ice, and toilet pumpouts.
  • Helicopter insurance - $55/year. Useful if you ever need to be lifeflighted from the event.

Construction Crew

If there's a chance you're going to join one of the construction crews who are building art, platforms, and bridges you might want to also bring the following:

  • Drill / driver -- The dance platform, and many of the art projects require drivers to assemble. If you already have a drill/driver set, bring that and the battery charger. If you plan to buy a set, get the Dewalt 20V system as it is commonly available at most hardware stores.
  • Leather gloves -- Building platforms and handling ropes can tear up your hands. Fingerless 3/4 gloves are recommended, as it allows for greater manual dexterity when tying/untying knots.
  • Faceshield -- If you plan to do any construction work, a face shield will protect your face and eyes from flying debris, and will be more comfortable in the hot sun than safety goggles.

Boat Captain

  • Boat -- shelter, transport, art, a berth on a boat is the most basic requirement to attend Ephemerisle. As boat captain, you have the power and responsibility to set the standards of behavior on your boat. If there are any injuries or damage caused by your boat, you will likely be the one held responsible (even if the damage wasn't caused by you). Choose your crew carefully.
  • Life jackets -- It is legally required that there is one life jacket on board for every person. They don't need to be worn, but they need to be on board. This is the responsibility of the captain.
  • Handheld radio VHF Marine Radio -- Radios are nice to have for individuals, but strongly recommended for boat captains. Many islands require them as a condition of participation in the island. Ideally, each boat should have at least two radios, one to charge while the other is in service.
  • First Aid Kit. Here's another option..
  • Binoculars -- Extremely useful on a boat. 7x50 is what's generally recommended.
  • High power flashlight -- high power flashlights are useful for scanning the water for people that might have fallen in.
  • Multi-port USB charger -- Given the proliferation of cell phones and tablets it's handy to have a single charger that can charge multiple devices off a single outlet.
  • Power strip -- Likewise, ports for charging tools, laptops, and other 120 volt devices are often in short supply.
  • Dinghy / canoe -- while attendees are encouraged to bring dinghies of their own, it's also nice to have a few community dinghies to share.
  • Boat hook!!!! -- Every boat should have a boat hook. It's super useful when docking boats.

Island Leader(s)