When things on land get too bad, people get in boats. This has happened many times in human history. For example, during the collapse of the Late Bronze Age in 1177 BC, Celtic hordes from the North Aegean and Mediterranean invaded South across the Sea, attacking Egypt and the Levant and eventually becoming Phillistines. Historians call these hordes “The Sea Peoples.” The era before the collapse of the Late Bronze Age was much like ours: interconnectedness, wealth, global trade and decadence that collapsed into calamity and violence.
Matt Bracken suggests sea life to weather the coming collapse. This idea is definitely worth exploring. At the very least, having ASA sailing qualifications, navigation and seamanship skills is probably a good idea. Most people don’t like getting in the water. Bracken grew up sailing and is a former SEAL. Your circumstances and ability will vary. The points in his essay are all very strong though. Large fiberglass keelboats can be bought for very little money and lived-on for an extended period of time. Smaller boats with centerboards and swing keels can be run in and out of creeks and marshes very easily due to their minimal draft and provide a back-up bail-out method if needed, especially in cases of flooding which can happen in places you’d least expect.
Bracken’s original idea is not without risks, namely weather, pirates and corrupt local governments. The owners of La Vagabonde describe a harrowing tale of repelling South American pirates with cans of food in this episode of their VLOG. Reading through the comments, it seems having firearms on board for your defense can get you arrested by customs in many ports. Even at sea, there is an awkward anarcho-tyranny where the sea lanes can’t be kept safe except for the shipping traffic of huge corporations who are allowed to employ mercenaries to repel pirates. Even if you leave your firearms on land, what about your cash and other supplies you might not want to bring into port?
One idea worth trying is sea caching. First, place the supplies in a GI issue waterproof bag. Next, there are basically two approaches to caching underwater: anchoring supplies to the bottom and floating them up or dangling them from a floating buoy. In deeper waters, such as international waters, dangling them from a buoy is your only option. But how do you find your cache later? Radar. If you can afford a cruising yacht, you can definitely afford a radar. They’ve gotten cheap and capable. In fact, it’s almost hard to build a bad radar with modern power amplifier devices. This radar can be used to find a buoy with an attached radar reflector (another example is here). After placing the buoy, analyze and plot the set and drift of the current using your GPS. Though your cache is now drifting, you know where it’s headed and can pinpoint it with your radar based on the return from the reflector.
Reflectors can be made larger to achieve larger radar cross section (RCS) or smaller to achieve smaller RCS. Larger RCS increases the radar return and signal to noise ratio. This makes it easier for you and everyone else to find the buoy. Smaller RCS does the opposite. Because you want to be the only one to find the buoy, you want to make it smaller and thus measurable from a shorter range. Another idea is to make it directional by creating reflectors only in one sector so that the return is a maximum only in one angle of approach and a minimum elsewhere. A drogue could be used to control the orientation of the reflector relative to the current, which is fairly constant.
Finally, the height of the buoy is important. Since you have some idea of where this buoy will be, you want to use the sea clutter (the radar returns from the ocean) to mask the return of the buoy by making the mast height of the buoy short – less than a wave height. In other words, if you expect 3′ seas at a minimum, maybe make the buoy mast 1.5′ high. This will ensure that the return of the buoy is minimal when it’s in the trough of a wave and maximum at the peak of a wave. Depending on the period of the wave, the return in the expected position of the buoy might look like sea clutter until you’re closer, which is what you want.
Radar reflectors definitely work. One of the hull technicians on our ship welded one of these for the our RIB so we could find it in the fog. We put it on a mast about 8 feet high and we were able to easily find the RIB on the 90s-era Furuno radar. You may be able to make a reflector without welding. The example in the Duckworks article was riveted. I bet these could be assembled from 12-16 gauge 5052 and epoxy/cabosil fillets and fiberglass tape rather than TiG welded. Another option is MiG welding 12 gauge steel which would require a marine coating which could also be used for visual camouflage. 5052 aluminum needs a marine coating as well.
This idea obviously needs testing. Any volunteers?