One survival option I have considered over the last year is a sailboat. Within the survival community there are two major camps, the bug-out doctrine and the castle doctrine. Needless to say each has many variations and are highly tailorable to personal needs and available options. I think for many families the castle doctrine is preferable, for solo young men probably the bug out. Being a young college student with minimal financial resources, I was mostly prone to bug out prepping, with the focus largely on skills (as I had a lack of gear or resources to acquire gear). Now as a young professional, I face the prospect of raising a family in a growing police state, one where what my children eat, are taught, and medicated would be controlled by the state. For us young preppers who see the writing on the wall and are desperate to to secure a viable future for our family, there is a perception that any survival prep would be woefully inadequate to sustain a family. Of course, the perception of an insurmountable barrier to providing for your family is merely that, a perception. In reality, we can all take small steps to become providers for our families. As I gain a financial foothold to begin my own homestead and family, I would like to share an option that began as an exotic fascination that may perhaps grow into a viable survival option, the sailboat.
A more detailed analysis could go in depth into the various nuances of sailboats and how they can be tailored to nearly any survival need, but I think as an introductory analysis it should be approached as simply as possible to encourage feedback and discussion. Let’s analyze how a sailboat can provide the basic essentials for survival: shelter, water, power, and food.
The first requirement would be a shelter. Living aboard a sailboat is not something that is difficult or even out of the ordinary. There are many liveaboards in the US already. Some live year round in their boat, only occasionally sailing to vacation destinations. Others live on board with the intention of sailing every available weekend. As a survival option the sailboat can be much cheaper than purchasing a house or land, offers superb mobility, and is as self contained as any homestead. A sailboat for living aboard, roughly 30 to 40 feet can be very reasonably acquired in a sailing condition for around $30,000 to $70,000. Sailboats, well all boats, sometimes get a bad rap for being a money pit that requires more money to operate than should be required. I believe this is a common misconception from individuals who buy boats just like that fourth or fifth car, to use ‘every now and then.’ Then complain when the motor (or sails) has problems after not being maintained or run for six months. A sailboat is just like any other vehicle or piece of property, it should be maintained and used to have utility. Using a sailboat as a home would help ensure that needed repairs and maintenance are kept up. Liveaboards who come from homes on shore to live on the sea, report that sailboat maintenance is not beyond the scope of home repair on land. There are certain things that should be done yearly (cleaning the hull and boat bottom) and some every few months (motor and sail check), not unlike a home. The ability to be truly mobile is probably the biggest advantage a sailboat has to a homestead. Is DHS coming for your food stores? Do you have ‘too many guns,’ according to the White House? The adage ‘fight or flight’ comes to mind. Of course many would like to think that fight is the superior option, who doesn’t like to be Rambo sometimes? But in reality, with a family in a world of uncertainty I believe the flight option offers the best security and preservation of lifestyle. Should an unacceptable scenario occur where you would fear for your family or lifestyle, one can always untie in the middle of the night and sail for South America.
The second requirement is water. Water procurement and purification is probably the premier survival issue in 99% of situations. On a sailboat: water, water everywhere…. Water procurement would the easy part, one would just need to take care to only fill tanks with (purified) seawater from offshore, and not near major ports or sea lanes. The purification and storage are the possible problems. To convert seawater into drinkable water, a sailboat must be equipped with a reverse osmosis system (referred to as watermakers). Watermakers do not run cheap and should not be considered lightly, as any water filtration system. The ability to turn seawater into clean drinking water provides an almost unlimited supply of the basic necessity of life. A basic watermaker system for a sailboat will likely run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000. I consider this as a necessary upgrade to any sailboat and should be included in the final cost analysis of a survival sailboat. Of course in addition to the ability to purify the water, the ability to hold it is important. All liveaboard sailboats have clean water holding tanks that range in size from 25 to 75 gallons. For drinking and cooking this is plenty of water storage for almost a week. To keep the watermaker working, a power source is needed.
Generating power on a sailboat is no different than any other off grid power system. The bonus that sailboats have out of the box against a homestead is that they have a fossil fuel generator included in the function of the motor. With a battery bank, this is enough to power most needs during a short trip. Similar to onshore off grid systems you can (and probably should) supplement the generator with solar and wind power generation. Wind and solar generators are a familiar sight on sailboats and liveaboards, the prices for such systems can vary widely, but take the same approach one would take with an onshore off grid system. One must gauge their own power usage and tailor a system to meet those needs. One concern is those with high power needs would not have the space for the requisite battery bank to provide. Those with low power concerns could find a sailboat very attractive. Expect similar costs and concerns with power generation for a sailboat in comparison to a homestead.
The final requirement for a sailboat is food. Food is a mixed bag for survival minded liveaboards and sailing cruisers. The limited storage space creates a problem for individuals who are keen to store much of their food. This can be countered though by the relative availability of fish from the sea and fresh produce (often cheaper than in the US) from many cruising destinations. As a fisher and lover of fresh produce, I am more inclined to take the latter option over canned (you hear about BPA in cans now!?) stored food. Now given the smaller space on the ship you would need to acquire and use fishing, cleaning, and cooking skills. This is another important skill useful in many survival situations, remember practice makes perfect. The predominant cooling method in sailboats is the tried and tested ice box method of our grandfathers, still requiring physical ice to cool the box. I believe this would be a better option in a grid down scenario, where power becomes a premium. Coming from the bug out survival doctrine, this is not a huge change from the skills based food acquisition requirements for bugging out. The food requirement would require the least amount of initial investment but perhaps the most amount of skills investment.
After considering the four basic essentials for survival and the ability of a sailboat to provide adequately, I believe the sailboat should be considered a viable and worthy survival option to many along the costs of the nation. Pirate preppers, seafaring survivalists, please comment and discuss! Is the sailboat a viable survival option?