Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Idea of the Ultimate Evacuation Vehicle

A personal evacuation plan should take into account the methods of travel and the routes available to you. The plan should include secondary options, in case the first one doesn't work. That goes not only for the route you'll take, but also the transportation methods you'll use — be it four wheels, two wheels, or no wheels at all.

Vehicles such as cars, trucks or RVs might work. Quadrunners, motorcycles and bicycles might be better under some circumstances. Or you might have the opportunity to leave the land behind and head away from trouble on a boat.

There is a reason we live near a coastline. In my opinion, there is no better escape vehicle (vessel) than a sailboat, and I'll tell you why.

In the event of a catastrophe that requires evacuation, a car, truck, SUV or RV might become bogged down in traffic. If you've decided to evacuate, you might make it only a few miles before you end up stuck in gridlock, surrounded by thousands of other people trying to do the same thing. That could leave you miles from all the supplies you would have had at home, and possibly stuck inside the perimeter of the disaster impact area.

The problem might be exacerbated by a power outage that shuts down the gas station's ability to pump fuel — or the lack of fuel altogether. A fuel shortage can be caused by government imposed rationing, a truck strike,  or some aspect of the disaster itself shutting things down. That's when travel by bicycle becomes an option.

Our personal escape involves a sailboat. We've owned a 26-foot trailerable sailboat for more than 15 years and have sailed all over the western states. Twelve years ago, we settled in a coastal community in the Pacific Northwest, and now enjoy what I consider to be the most viable survival conditions possible. The weather here is not a survival issue. It might be overcast or rainy or chilly sometimes, but we don't have hurricanes, tornados, deadly blizzards with sub-zero cold. We have a good growing season, abundant freshwater, hunting and fishing right at our doorstep. But best of all, we have the open coastline and a sailboat.

Yes, we live in a potential earthquake zone, but earthquakes don't affect boats, unless a tsunami is generated. Even though it's a possibility, the statistical chance for a damaging tsunami in our area is less than being hit by a meteorite. During a tsunami, the best place to be in on high ground, but the second best place is on a boat over deep water, because the energy impulse passes beneath the boat totally unnoticed.

In our region, chances are that some type of catastrophic situation would make it prudent to make our exit via sailboat. It could be a chemical/biological/radiological incident caused by either an accident or by terrorists — it could be the chaos generated by economic breakdown — it could be our desire to step out from under excessive government regulation such as martial law — it could be related to a revolution such as it happening all over the Middle East right now. You just never know what's going to happen, but it's good to have the option of dropping out of sight for your own safety. And the sailboat is the best way I've found to do that.

The evacuation would entail casting off the docklines and heading away from the troubled landscape.  There's no chance of getting stuck in traffic. The wind is free, so we don't need to worry about fuel shortage. The boat is well equipped for living aboard, complete with a galley (kitchen), head (bathroom) with a composting toilet, sleeping areas, a dinette, and storage space for everything we need. We keep the boat stocked with food and water, as well as all the supplies to keep us going for a long time.

The ability to leave the chaos behind, sail away and drop anchor in a quiet cove somewhere is reassuring. After all is said and done, it's the almost impossible challenge of trying to meet the needs of a population in crisis that creates the survival problems. After the dust settles from whatever form of disaster has struck, it's the massive populace that generates survival issues that can last for years after the event has subsided — just look at Haiti, for example. The ability to remove yourself from that picture accomplishes two goals — first, it puts you in a safer position; and second, it eases the burden on relief organizations because they won't have to be concerned about taking care of you.

I know that not everyone lives near a coastline. We didn't always live near one ourselves. But after we analyzed what was going on in the world, we took the steps to put ourselves in this position so we would have a better chance of survival. Your mileage may vary. But I encourage you to think about this and figure things out that will best suit your location and your personal situation.

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