Letter Re: Bug Out Boats

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Hi Hugh,

First, thank you for providing SurvivalBlog to all your readers. When things finally come to a head in the world today, I have no doubt that the information that you have provided over the years will be responsible for helping countless citizens and saving many lives.

I’d like to add my two cents to the article “Bug Out Boats” as well as the comments from your other contributors. My wife and I have been full-time live-aboards in the northeast for over 20 years, and we have gained some hard won knowledge and experience over the years that I hope we can share. I wrote a previous article for SurvivalBlog “Preppers afloat by Captain Cathar“. In the article I presented a case why someone might want to use a boat for bugging out, especially along our crowded east coast.

A boat is certainly not the best bug out retreat, but it may be the only viable option for many people were we live. As others have said, you don’t necessarily have to cross an ocean, you just have to get away from the carnage of a collapsing society. The only proviso here is if there is some sort of CME or EMP event. In that case, you would have to leave the continent altogether and head into the open ocean. If you are going to outfit a boat for the end of the world, you might as well make it ocean ready and setup and provisioned for the long haul while you are at it. If this were the case, I would not choose a multi-hulled boat like the catamarans that have been suggested.

Cats make excellent charter boats in the Caribbean; they are sea kindly in calm waters and have wonderful large open spaces. Their shallow draft allows them to snuggle into quiet coves inaccessible to anyone else. However, few long distance cruisers sail them in the open ocean. I consider them coastal craft, at best. I’m not saying that you cannot cross an ocean with one, just that it will not be me making the attempt. I told my wife that your contributors were recommending multi-hulls as bug out boats, and her simple reply sums things up with frank honesty. She said, “Everyone dies when you roll the thing.” There is a reason that heavily ballasted mono-hulls have been the boat of choice for over a thousand years. Today’s monos are fast and efficient and very sea worthy. Heavy cruisers are often knocked down in bad weather and sometimes even rolled completely over. If the boat’s hatches and keel remain intact, you will always resurface.

Displacement mono-hulls also have the ability to carry a huge mass of supplies. For provisioning, you will need a minimum one dry pound of food per person per day plus gallons of water– the more the better. Even just 50 gallons of water weighs 400 pounds, and you will need much more than this for an ocean crossing. Water makers are amazing technology but fragile and depend on a complex battery and charging system. I would never rely on just a water maker for my potable water on a long voyage. When you add it all up– food, water, fuel, tools, spares, and other supplies– you can literally end up with tons of supplies. Catamarans are lightweight craft or are at least not known for their carrying capacity and are not really suitable for long-term, safe survival at sea.

As far as protection from firearms is concerned, your authors are right that there is no better shooting gallery than a boat on the water. But this works both ways; all parties are exposed. The same can be said for cars and other vehicles, along with unfortified buildings. Bullets on a low angle on the water tend to skip along the surface. Placing people and important cargo, like batteries, radios, and fuel tanks, below the waterline is much safer if things get dicey. Holes caused from bullets are easily patched at the water line, if you can get at the hull from the inside. I’d be much more concerned about the bullets passing through the passengers and crew. We have huge bilge pumps between our water tight bulkheads, and these can handle any minor emergency until repairs can be made.

Costs of the boat recommended by your contributors are correct and appalling. A new boat (not necessarily a better boat) is an expensive proposition, but there are many used boats on the market at a fraction of the price. Many of these work fine as they are. Less expensive still are the fixer uppers that may need paint, wiring, plumbing, sails, tanks, or engine work. This work can be done by a handy person, but it’s expensive if done by the yard. Fifty grand can get you a very nice “classic plastic” 40 footer, say an older Bristol or Pearson. You will want a full keel with an attached rudder, not a fin keel or unsupported rudder. Check yachtworld.com for an idea of what is out there in your area.

I don’t mean to criticize your other contributors, as all voices should be heard and considered. I just have a different take on things, and I have to admit I’d love to have a large cat in the West Indies, just not during hurricane season. Cheers, Capt. Cathar

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