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Old 05-12-2007, 23:27   #1
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From Cruising to Survival

On topic: one of the undeniable motives for outfitting my boat for extended voyaging instead of local cruising is the ability to survive in uncertain times (TEOTWAWKI, as some would call it, one of those things we hope never happens). This informs many of the design decisions: the Katadyn 40E instead of the more power-efficient Spectra Newport 150, for example, since it has manual backup. Or the expensive and disruptive installation of a sleek little Sardine woodstove so I'm not dependent on the Webasto and its industrial fuel source. Or the security systems that allow effective ship monitoring on board, via the web, or through a variety of local radio links.

Specific regions and events aside, I feel that we as cruisers have the rather unique ability to bolt if needed... and become reasonably self-sufficient if there has been a bit of advance planning along those lines. Maybe we can hijack this thread to identify the major tools that make our escape pods into survival platforms.

In my case, aside from the obvious ability to move under wind power in a robust steel hull, there's hydroponics for small vegetables, sprouts, fishing/foraging tools, a kilowatt of deployable solar panels with peak-power tracker, human/sail-powered tender and pedal kayak, wood stove, desalinator and fresh-water filtration, lots of communications, on-board maintenance tools for most problems short of the catastrophic, and plenty of situation-awareness geekery. What am I overlooking?

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:17   #2
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Steve - now THAT (to me) is a damn insteresting topic!

Want to create your own Title and Thread for that? I'll be happy to create it for you.
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:23   #3
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Thomas - sure!

Something like "From Cruising to Survival" perhaps?

-Steve
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:30   #4
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On topic: one of the undeniable motives for outfitting my boat for extended voyaging instead of local cruising is the ability to survive in uncertain times (TEOTWAWKI, as some would call it, one of those things we hope never happens). This informs many of the design decisions: the Katadyn 40E instead of the more power-efficient Spectra Newport 150, for example, since it has manual backup. Or the expensive and disruptive installation of a sleek little Sardine woodstove so I'm not dependent on the Webasto and its industrial fuel source. Or the security systems that allow effective ship monitoring on board, via the web, or through a variety of local radio links.

Specific regions and events aside, I feel that we as cruisers have the rather unique ability to bolt if needed... and become reasonably self-sufficient if there has been a bit of advance planning along those lines. Maybe we can hijack this thread to identify the major tools that make our escape pods into survival platforms.

In my case, aside from the obvious ability to move under wind power in a robust steel hull, there's hydroponics for small vegetables, sprouts, fishing/foraging tools, a kilowatt of deployable solar panels with peak-power tracker, human/sail-powered tender and pedal kayak, wood stove, desalinator and fresh-water filtration, lots of communications, on-board maintenance tools for most problems short of the catastrophic, and plenty of situation-awareness geekery. What am I overlooking?

Cheers,
Steve
Steve, we both look at sailing the same way. Many on here laughed at me or ribbed me, in good spirit of course, for having a wood stove (Little Cod) as primary heat, doing all our own canning, learning how to forage, hunt/trap, use a meat grinder to grind our own meat, use rainwater collection instead of watermakers, didn't use a hot water heater, didn't "shower" (but did clean) etc... etc...

We had done all that with the emphasis on being able to survive comfortably in any situation. Finally someone who understands the angle!

As to water, we survive now on 12 gallons per week for all drinking, washing, dishes, etc...

We are now doing this on land and taking some time away from it to work and save up a bit.... but we keep the skills sharp and are ready at any time to drive our "land boat" to DEEP Maine and just park it there for years while something blows over.

I, too, would be interested in a thread on this.

Now, how do you like that Sardine?? I just orderd a new Cod for our "land boat" to replace a mistakenly purchased diesel heater. Man, do I hate diesel heaters! ha ha (ready for more ridicule... joking)
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:59   #5
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I for one would love to see a thread like this continue. I will follow it continuously. There would be a lot to learn from a thread like this.
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Old 06-12-2007, 10:34   #6
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Ssullivan - I'd love to hear your comments on the Little Cod. I've been in contact with the Marine Stove folks and am just on the cusp of springing for the Sardine, but maybe I should consider the larger one since I'm now looking at converting a larger and more central part of the boat (where I have trouble squeezing around the mast partner and dinette anyway). It would put the stove right by the comm console where most of the high-geekery occurs, and that's appealing.

Anyway, on the more general topic of this thread - thanks for giving it its own home, Thomas. I think it is an area of growing interest, and despite the somewhat kooky image of "survivalists" we really do have a lot to consider that trends in the same direction. For me, one of the driving factors in boat selection was an amalgamation of "what if" scenarios, and those kept me from getting something too big, too fuel-intensive, too fragile, and so on. (I sold my Corsair 36 trimaran rocketship to get a 44' steel monohull, and I'm an old multihull proselytizer from way back... so that's saying a lot.)

By the way, if you can find a copy of the long-out-of-print Sailing the Farm (Ken Neumeyer), it's a good addition to the library... info on solar stills and dehydrators, foraging, barter, and thinking of the boat as your floating survival platform. It's a little dated, coming from an earlier age of paranoia as opposed to the current one, but still a good resource.

There's a fine line between magic carpet and escape pod, and for most of us the transformation would not be terribly difficult with a bit of additional planning. Spares, self-sufficient food/water/energy, the tools and skills to handle a variety of conditions... we're already closer to self-sufficiency, as a group, than any other segment of the population. When you consider the increasing instability of the world (the economic system, scarce resources, climate change, the warrings of competing ideologues), it's a better time than ever to have at least the basic ability to quietly slip away and live on the hook for a while.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 06-12-2007, 10:58   #7
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You asked what is missing. Here it is. The human factor. While the technology is there to outfit a boat for longterm independence, outfitting the crew is a whole other issue. Being within sight of a foriegn country, only to find out that a coup has just taken place would put you in just such a position. You will likely not want to land there, so, what next? It could be days or weeks to the next safe destination. Is the crew prepared to make that journey without reprovisioning? Is the crew ready to live on canned beans for a week or two? I think it is as, or more important to prepare the crew (inclusive of the skipper), for such an event. Think about the "what ifs". Consider morale. If the crew has been focusing on a destination, the emotional impact of suddenly having that goal taken away can be devastating. In that light, living off your survival plan will seem like suffering. The crew needs to be prepared to accept such change as a part of the adventure. Then, it becomes just that. An adventure, not a flight for survival.
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:01   #8
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Kai Nui - excellent point. In a much more recreational sense, I've often observed that "if you think too much about where you're going, you lose respect for where you are." That takes on a whole new dimension if the intent is landing to get fed.

Thanks for the thought...
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:18   #9
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Everyone.

Take the time to peruse Microship's websites/blogs. Impressive!!! Nice job, Steve. What you're doing is not for everyone, but you've dished up a lot of info and food for thought for all of us.
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:36   #10
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Well, I don't have time right now at work to go through his blogs but I did glance at them - looks fascinating!
BTW Microship - you're a couple of books lighter now. (Ebay store)
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:53   #11
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Clausont and Hud3 - thank you for the most-kind words (and the tonnage-reduction as well).

Cheers!
Steve
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:11   #12
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Ssullivan - I'd love to hear your comments on the Little Cod. I've been in contact with the Marine Stove folks and am just on the cusp of springing for the Sardine, but maybe I should consider the larger one since I'm now looking at converting a larger and more central part of the boat (where I have trouble squeezing around the mast partner and dinette anyway). It would put the stove right by the comm console where most of the high-geekery occurs, and that's appealing.


I go on (and on, and on) about the Little Cod everywhere on this board. I couldn't love it more. I just ordered a new one, since my old one went with the boat (will the new Canadian owners think I crept aboard last night and stole it? ha ha). Seriously, though, the Little Cod puts out *tremendous* amounts of heat compared to most other heating options. The sardine is good for smaller areas, but if you are going to live aboard in the winter, I would seriously suggest the Little Cod or the Halibut (the cookstove/oven one). They put out the same BTUs.

If you would like to let me know the size of the area you plan to heat and in what outside temps, I'd be happy to let you know which stove would work and which would not. We heated a 45 footer, so there is a lot of similarity. Now, we are heating a "land boat" with it and are a little afriad to be blown away by the excessive heat. My new Cod arrived today! And BTW: Andrew at Navigator Stove Works is a great guy. Very easy to work with and cares a lot about the product. The craftsmanship is incredible. The stove will last a lifetime if cared for.

I agree with Kai Nui's assessment. 90% of it is the crew. Once you train *yourself* on how to live without all the modern conveniences, you are on the road to independence. 12gals of water usage a week doesn't come without a lot of work and forward planning with water reserves. We are doing that without seawater too... since we are on land.

Also, my personal input is that the technology that exists to allow you to be "independent" enough to plan your big escape is precisely the prison you will live in once you have departed.

I know it's hard for guys like you (and me), who are/were into technology to understand that, but all the gizmos and inventions stink compared to learning to do without. THAT is the secret to surviving. Meeting the needs you have to live, while using no other energy for anything else.

Take the water example. My wife and I use 12 gals a week. We couldn't imagine ever having to have a watermaker, since we could go over 2.5 months without ever needing to top off our tanks in the old boat. Plus, with caught rainwater, you will never run out, even in the 2.5 months. No watermaker means less batteries, less generator run and less diesel (or less solar arrays). Keeping it dead simple and training *yourself* is the secret, IMO.
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:56   #13
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Just wanted to add, regardless of the conveniences, even if all of the comforts of home are available, if the attitude of the crew is one of despair, a royal palace could be an unhappy place, while I have known people to live in tents for long periods of time very happily.
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Old 06-12-2007, 13:48   #14
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... My wife and I use 12 gals a week...
Given that it's conventional wisdom that you each DRINK about 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of water per day (3.5 Gal/Wk), 6 gal/wk/person may be a vastly unrealistic target for most cruisers. With shoreside jobs, your total consumption may have actually been significantly higher.
Most passagemakers, the very most frugal water consumers, recommend 2.5 to 4 gallons per day capacity, per person (35 - 56 Gal/Wk for a couple - on a passage).

You're right about convenient technologies (and lots of other modern aberrations) being a "trap".
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Old 06-12-2007, 14:04   #15
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Given that it's conventional wisdom that you each DRINK about 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of water per day (3.5 Gal/Wk), 6 gal/wk/person may be a vastly unrealistic target for most cruisers. With shoreside jobs, your total consumption may have actually been significantly higher.

I would agree with your logic, but point out that we are not really talking about cruising so much as survival here (I think?). If you can't get by on 6 gals of water per week per person, you need to re-evaluate.

Sometimes in survival situations, you do things like put little baggies around tree leaves, or run through the morning dew with absorbent clothing on in deep grass, or dig a pit with a tarp by the sea to make a sunshine desalinator. This stuff nets you next to nothing in terms of water, so you need to learn to live on as little as possible in order to survive.

We currently use 6 gals a week for 2 people for everything - and there is no saltwater pump for dishes on our "land boat"

We could drop the amount even more, but choose not to. However, there is not much "fat" to cut from our water budget.

That is our "anchored out" consumption rate - completely self sustaining without any added water in terms of any "shoreside consumption."
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