A little over a decade ago I lived in Leadville, Colorado. It’s a small high-mountain town in the Rockies, originally making its fortune from silver mining at the end of the 19th century, surrounded by 14,000 ft peaks. Once the snow had melted, a treat on Sunday mornings was to get into my Jeep and drive for a couple of hours over Mosquito Pass, a fairly challenging four-wheel-drive road, to the small town of Alma in the next valley. Alma has two bars, one of which, curiously named Alma’s Only Bar, served great breakfasts on Sundays. The clientele was interesting, as one would expect from a town in the real-world South Park county, the basis for the cartoon series. Alma’s few hundred residents included a fair number of survivalists living in isolated cabins in the surrounding hills, and conversations over Huevos Rancheros at the bar often included conspiracy theories, praise for certain of the founding fathers (The Federalist Papers seemed to be the survivalists’ political bible), and discussions about their preparations for “when the government attacked”. I didn’t find those kind of conversations in the conference rooms of New York and San Francisco where I wiled away my weekdays. They were interesting Sunday mornings, jollied along by a couple of Bloody Marys, and followed by a gentle drive back home along regular roads through Breckenridge and Frisco.
In looking for more information about seasteading I came across several books on Amazon, and an issue of Survivalist magazine dedicated to seasteading. Now, from my earlier experience with survivalists in Alma, while they are generally a little “special”, the truth is that they are out there living a life that is a whole lot simpler and more self reliant than the life most of us live. I thought there should be something to learn from their experiences relevant to living on a sailboat.
From the start, one has to admire the ambition of the survivalist writers. Not limiting themselves to sailboats or power boats, one chapter addresses those who are “financially fortunate enough to consider purchasing a decommissioned nuclear-powered submarine”.
If that proves beyond your means another chapter helpfully details methods for “borrowing a boat, even without the intent of returning it”.
Somewhere between these two extremes, the three page chapter entitled “Building your own boat 101”, after thoughtfully providing would-be seasteaders with definitions for key terms like deck, hull and keel, concludes that “building a boat as a DIY project can be a fun and exciting experience. Individuals should have some working knowledge of wood and how to safely and effectively handle tools and equipment.” Sound advice, that.
There’s an implicit assumption that while the government might attack them in a multitude of insidious ways, it would always leave their diesel supplies intact, so there’s not much support for sailing. “Sailing a boat is by far the hardest method of traveling over water. The techniques and procedures are much more complex than using boats powered by inboard or outboard motors.” This is caused in part, one assumes, by “the color of a sail having no bearing on its performance, name or position on the vessel.” Furthermore, “sailing is slowly becoming a lost art, with fewer and fewer people appreciating the time and talent it takes to use skills combined with nature, to navigate across the water. It is considered by many to be a more hazardous form of boating, and there are certain risks present on sailboats that are not present on others, such as shifting sails and yardarms, as well as riding the vessel while it is listing to one side or the other, which poses a greater risk of someone being swept overboard.”
Abandon ship options are explored. Along with lifeboats which “someone should be in charge of deploying”, “non-traditional lifeboat options” such as “Personal Diver Propulsion Systems” are explored for those who enjoy hanging out on their boat in full scuba gear, and jet skis for those who conveniently plan to abandon ship near shore in calm conditions.
|Seasteading improperly in Sal, Cape Verdes, without the essential
torpedoes and explosive harpoons
Security gets plenty of coverage, focusing on attacks against the seastead. Defence against pirates includes the recommendation to have torpedoes and explosive harpoons, along with underwater mines which the author regretfully notes “cannot be purchased by the average seasteading citizen”. Plenty of semi-automatic and automatic weapons are needed, of course.
I would have expected foraging and water purification to be strong points of the survivalists, and there is plenty about harvesting seaweed, as well as advice on not getting eaten by a shark or stung by a jellyfish while spearing fish. As for producing drinking water from sea water, the survivalists eschew the modern namby-pamby reverse osmosis stuff and instead work with more robust techniques:
In the same vein, I really want to believe this Survivalist guide to seasteading is a parody.
Oh dear. Oh dear.