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Episode 125 S4-1

Boat Bugout


Special Guest:

Battle for the South Ch 1

Ellen Kerr

The Battle for the South begins as Erika and Vince voyage down the Mississippi Sea. Bugging out in a boat is a common idea and here to discuss it today is Ellen Kerr, Leading Seaman in the Australian Royal Navy.

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There are many benefits to bugging out in a boat. There will be less people choosing to use the water highways. You may have access to the ocean. You can use the flow of water and conserve on traditional fuel types. Finally, you will have access to game that is coming down to the water for a drink.


There are a few types of boats that you could choose for your bug out vessel. Aluminum is a good option. It is a light weight boat that is durable and can easily be repaired. However, aluminum boats can be bulky and vibrate a lot under power. Their seats offer little comfort. They can be hard on the body and get hot as well.


A rubber boat is another option. You can deflate them and they are easily repairable. A rubber boat is lightweight and easy to carry when it is inflated. When it is deflated, however, it can be heavy and hard for one person to carry. They damage easily and you will have to adhere to limited weight restrictions.


The final option Ellen presented is fiberglass. These boats are fast and provide a softer ride. However, they are heavy and not easy to repair. Plus, they damage easily.


What type of boat you choose will depend on your situation. A kayak is another viable option. However you will have to meet a very strict weight requirement. If you do not, the boat will ride very sluggishly and may even capsize, jeopardizing your gear.


Whatever you choose you will need to practice with the boat. Know how many people you will be carrying plus how much gear. Practice maneuvering the boat with the total weight present in the boat.


Propulsion method is the next thing you will need to decide upon. A fuel motor provides for a fast get away if you need it. You can cover a lot of ground quickly with this motor and the smaller ones don't require a lot of fuel. They make your boat very maneuverable at high speeds and you can carry larger loads. However, fuel engines are often heavy and awkward to carry if you need to bring it ashore. You have fuel storage limitations and it produces smoke and a lot of noise.


*Sound will carry further over water. Loud engine noises and voices will be heard from much farther away!


An electric motor could be an alternate means of propulsion. They are lightweight and easy to carry ashore. They make very little noise and the batteries can be recharged (the batteries can also be re-purposed once on shore). However, you will need to carry a solar charger for the batteries adding more weight to you total weight allotment. Electric engines are slow and can't carry too heavy of a load.


Of course you could just use paddles and oars as your means of propulsion. They are silent and very easy to make. However, they are slower and require physical exertion from the user. The boat will be challenging to maneuver with paddles and oars. It is highly suggested that you carry a fuel engine as a backup for use in tactical retreats.


You could also depend upon the flow of the water as propulsion. You won't have to use your paddles as much but you will have a difficult time returning up the river.


There are a lot of considerations to take into account when you are choosing the boat and propulsion method that will be right for you:

  • Type of waterway

  • Ultimate destination - specific bug out location or nomadic lifestyle? How long will your trip to your bug out location take? Stock appropriately and know where you will be stopping along the way.

  • Are there man made barriers along your route? How will you handle them?

*Recon your route in all seasons and types of weather. Know the hazards and possible beaching spots. Print out a map and mark the hazards, beaching spots, and all other points of interest on the map. Laminate this document and keep it in the boat.


  • How much gear will you be taking? Do you have supplies stored at your bug out location?

  • How many people will you be taking?

  • Know and respect the max weight of your craft.

  • What's upstream? Will the water become contaminated? If so you probably don't want to be drinking or eating fish from it. 

  • Are you traveling in fresh or salt water? Will that change somewhere along the way? If so you will have to have a way to desalinate salt water.

  • Where are the game areas?

  • Does the waterway flow through a major town?

  • What are the possible ambush points along your route?

Security is always essential. People will be heading to waterways as a means of personal survival, both coastal and inland. If you plan on bugging out to "your private island" that only you know about. Think again. In all likelihood many other people also consider that island "their personal island that only they know about." Make certain you know it is safe and look for others heading your way. Choose a sparsely populated area to be in. Also, other people are going to have boats and their intentions may not always be innocent. Try to save your motor power until you really need it.


In a boat there is not a lot of cover if another boat or someone from the shore decided to open fire on you. You can do things like spiking the side of your boat so it can't be boarded but you are in a boat. It is easy to put a bullet through it and sink it. They may also target your engine. It will be best to travel at night, using only paddles, oars, an electric motor, or the flow of the water. Be very quiet, your voice will carry further. If someone tries to use multiple boats to coral you, that is when you need to use your fuel motor to get out of there as soon as possible. Going ashore for food will also be very tricky because other survivors may be claiming the riverbanks. Be ready for anything.


Another serious consideration is knowing whether or not you get motion sickness. If you do, you need to address that well ahead of time. Stock up on the meds to keep your head straight. Vomiting will dehydrate you at a time when it could be a life or death condition.


On the water you are going to be exposed to severe weather conditions. Wind can make your time on the water absolutely miserable. The water itself can turn treacherous and your body will be chapped and raw. The wind can move you off course, requiring a lot of fuel to correct it. The unpredictability of the weather on the water is a serious threat. It can go from sunshine and roses to hellish conditions in a matter of moments. If you don't have a top on your boat, you will be exposed to the sun, wind, and rain. A tarp can provide limited protection and you can use it to collect rain water.


The costs of a boat are going to depend upon a lot of variables as well. You have to consider the cost of the physical equipment itself: the boat, propulsion method, and trailer. Then you have to consider the maintenance costs of the motor, boat and trailer. Fresh water is tough on equipment but salt water is even worse. You will need an emergency gear bag for the boat: an EPIRB (Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon), emergency beacon, flares, balers, life jackets, etc. You will also need spare motor parts: spark plugs, impeller, propellers, etc. Tools for maintenance will be another weight in your boat. You should stock repair kits and extra fuel. If your engine is a two stroke you will also need oil to mix with the gas. Don't mix them until you need them. The oil will make the gas go bad quicker. Additionally, you could add fuel additives to your regular fuel to make it last longer.

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Battle for the South Ch 1

Ellen Kerr

Born in 1980 in Australia, Ellen Louis Kerr, has been married for 16 years to her wonderful spouse, Brian. They have two daughters Miriam and Emma. Plus, 2 spoiled cats, 2 ducks, 1 budgie and two lizards. (What is a budgie you ask? A budgie is a native Australian Bird short for budgerigar. They are a popular pet in Australia.)

Ellen joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2003 and served for fourteen years. She has earned the rank of Leading Seaman and is an Electronic Warfare Director at sea. When she's on the shore she works in the field of electronic intelligence. Ellen was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2005 as part of the allied task force on board HMAS Darwin for which she is now recognized as a veteran. She has also deployed to and took part in numerous exercises in New Zealand, Hawaii and South East Asia.

In her spare time she practices Hapkido and works on staying prepared for whatever may come our way. Ellen enjoys camping, fishing, shooting and four wheeling. She loves SIFI and end of the world genre material. Her favorite TV show is Firefly. She loves her ducks and motorbikes.

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