Does a Bug Out Boat Make Sense for Some Preppers?
You obviously do not want to be on a boat or even near any large body of water during hurricanes, heavy rains, or during thunderstorms or when there are high winds. However, there are times when a boat could save your life.
The ideal situation would be that you live near a large body of water and have access to remote islands, islands where you could set up a bug-out-location. You could easily ferry supplies across to your location without raising suspicions if you follow a few simple OPSEC rules. Having a boat docked close by eliminates the need for a vehicle to haul the boat to a launch area.
Keep in mind, however, if you found an island suitable for your needs, others could of as well, and so you have to look ahead and consider how you would defend your location.
What If You Live Inland
Use Google mapping software to locate all bodies of water near your location. There are several options, one being is to keep the boat at home, or two, find a marina and dock your boat there so you simply need to get to the marina during a crisis. If you do not live near the coast then your options are limited, but a large lake can offer some protection from wildfires, civil unrest, and nuclear, chemical, or biological attacks.
Being on a boat gives you access to edible marine life, and freshwater lakes and rivers offer drinking water after filtration and purification.
Navigating up or down rivers can get you away from a disaster area easier than trying to get out of the area using a vehicle in some cases. There are options and many possibilities, but it will take some research and planning to make it work.
The size of the boat dictates your actions. In a crisis, any boat is better than no boat if you are escaping a wildfire or a chemical attack for example. To survive for any period on the water, however, you need a sizable watercraft that has space for survival gear, food, water, fuel, and space for sleeping, cooking, and that the boat offers overhead cover.
You will need protection from the sun and rain so a simple fishing boat may not be the best option for living on the water for a few days let alone a few weeks.
You may have to access resources on land at times so having too big of a watercraft may eliminate some areas for anchoring. You probably do not want to pull up to any marinas whether they are abandoned or not. Stealth will be important in some cases, so you may have to anchor where the boat is shielded from prying eyes along a shoreline. You need options, so choose your boat carefully.
Simply buying a boat does not give you any experience in navigating on the water. In normal times there are rules and regulations when out on the water, so know what they are before setting out. You need to know high and low tides, reef locations, and what buoys and markers you see on the water mean for example. Again it is not as simple as buying a boat and loading it up with gear.
Having a canoe or kayak, and a bicycle on your boat may be a good idea. You can use the canoe or kayak for exploring tributaries or for escaping a sinking or damaged boat. Use the bicycle for getting around on land if you have to dock and go inland.
The ideal watercraft would have a small gallery for cooking and refrigeration and sleeping quarters.
Sustainability would be a problem. Fuel for the boat and propane for cooking will run out as will food and water, so you will need caches on shore that you can access. Again much depends on the size of the craft and how well stocked you are. If you know you will be on a freshwater lake, for example, you could reduce the amount of water you carry, thus, freeing up additional space for food and fuels.
Carry small charcoal grills for cooking on shore if you find a remote area in which to anchor. Gather wood from the shore to use for cooking to conserve propane or butane supplies. In rough weather, you may have to consider sleeping on shore, so make sure you have shelter materials on board, so you can stay on shore for short periods when needed.
Having a shore kit is a good idea. The shore kit would be carried with you as you travel inland. Have shelter material, ax, knife, and cordage, fire starting materials, 24-48 hours of food, fresh water, self device weapons, and possibly some bartering items.
Using a boat for bugging-out with and then living on it would not be for everyone, but for some, it may be the perfect solution. Instead of worrying about buying some land and building a cabin, your boat could be your cabin on the lake as it were. It is something to think about and yet not something to rush into. It is not as easy as it may have been depicted in this article.
First, determine if you have a large enough body of water to make it practical. Small lakes may not hide you or protect from what is happening on shore. Rivers can be used for escaping, but rivers would make it difficult to live on the water unless you were continuously moving and this would require several people capable of operating the boat and navigating the waters safely, not to mention the amount of fuel required.
There is a lot to consider and some of you may very well benefit from having a boat during a crisis, give it some thought.