According to the NOAA, the oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. This means that if you’re looking for an open, off-the-grid destination to take your group when the SHTF, heading out on the water can’t be beat. Most people expect their feet to stay on solid ground, but if you live near the ocean or in the Great Lakes region, going offshore might be the smartest–or perhaps only–option. However, the equipment and training you need to bug out on a boat is much different than prepping a four-wheeled vehicle.
The Best Type of Boat for Bugging Out
You might be able to survive for a time on a 30-foot weekender, but after a few days, everyone will be pretty uncomfortable. Your best bet is to choose a boat built to be on the sea for long periods of time: a blue water sailboat.
Designed and constructed for round-the-world treks, these boats can be crewed by one or two people and have an interior similar to that of a motor home. This agile bug-out shelter can not only get you to safer ground, it will keep your group comfortable while you travel the open water.
Make Sure Your Equipment is Seaworthy
Conveniently, most newer-models come equipped with water survival tools and contraptions. Sail boats have a battery bank that can be recharged by wind power, an electric desalinization system for producing fresh water, storage space for supplies (i.e. food, first aid kit, clothing) and radar and radio equipment to keep in contact with other water crafts–whether you want them to find you or not.
Some even have entertainment systems and climate controls, but in a time of chaos, you’ll likely have all the “entertainment” you can stand.
Sail Boat Training
It is absolutely necessary to get a formal training on how to control the sail boat; do not take boating education lightly, because you could find yourself in a situation where you’re responsible for more lives than your own. The ideal method of training is to have an experienced sailor take you out on multiple trips with your boat, each one longer than the last. You’ll get more comfortable with steering and maneuvering, as well as learn methods of dealing with varied weather conditions.
You should certainly take your boat out as much as possible before it’s a survival shelter, but you can learn a lot about boating basics and water survival by taking a boating safety course or cold water survival training (check out the American Sailing Association if interested).
The Downsides of Bug Out Boats
Water bug outs are pretty ingenious and a blue water sailboat sounds like a legitimate survival vehicle and shelter, although there are some downsides to using it as a long-term solution. First, not everyone can deal with an indefinite length of time on the water; seasickness is a very real possibility and without the proper training, it will be difficult for one to control a seasick stomach once it’s already a problem.
You can supplement meals with dried vegetables and other staples, but to stay offshore for a long period of time, it’s fishing and diving for food, so you never know exactly when your next meal will be.
Also, cabin fever (figurative term for the claustrophobic reaction to isolation in a small space for an extended time) will likely set in at some point, setting irritability high and trust levels at low. Finally, and maybe the most important, when it comes to self-defense, you’re severely limited in a boat. You can use firearms to repel boarders and pirates, but if the worst happens and they take control, you’ve got no other means of escape.
I did 14 years in the Navy, NO WAY would I concider getting in any boat as a BOV.