So you’ve decided that riding out the coming apocalypse at sea is a strategy that will work for you (see the posting called Sailing Away From The Apocalypse, Part One for more information). Now all you need to do is select an appropriate vessel, and then make sure that it is close at hand when the apocalypse strikes. I know what you’re thinking, a sailboat is a sailboat isn’t it? Can’t I just take the first one I find? If this is what you’re thinking, you might want to choose another escape plan as it sounds like you don’t know enough about sailing to make it a viable option and its likely you’ll sink and drown long before you start wondering which of your crew members it would be okay to eat simply to break the monotony of all the fish you’ve been living on. If, instead, you’re thinking, ‘Which would be better, that gaff-rigged ketch I’ve always had my eye on at the local marina, or that new yawl my next door neighbour just bought and keeps tied to the dock at the end of his garden?’ then maybe you’ve settled on the right way to survive.
There are three main issues you need to think about when selecting your vessel. These are its size, its type and its age. In terms of size, I wouldn’t recommend anything less than about thirty foot in length, they’re just too small to live on for any extended period of time, especially if you have to cram it full of food and supplies. I also wouldn’t recommend anything much over fifty feet. This is because such large boats will be difficult to handle on your own, and its important that you can still operate the boat single-handed, just in case something (disease, mutiny, they all get turned into zombies, that sort of thing) happens to everyone else onboard and you find out you’re the only one left. Also, larger vessels are likely to have a deeper draft, restricting where you can go. This means that as tempting and impressive as that tall ship tied up at the docks might seem, unless you have a well-trained crew of thirty or forty people and are only planning on sailing through deep waters rather than coming close to shore, it’s not really a viable option.
In terms of type, well this is really up to personal choice. However, I would tend to go for a multi-masted vessel, such as a ketch, a schooner or a yawl, over a single-masted one since you have more options in terms of sails, and if something happens to one mast, you have the other one to keep you moving. The only exception I would make for this would be for a catamaran. Their faster speed, the extra space they provide as well as their relatively shallow draft more than makes up for the fact most of them only have one mast. In fact, a catamaran would almost certainly be my vessel of choice for these very reasons, and this is why I selected a catamaran for the main vessel in For Those In Peril On The Sea. However, catamarans are not necessarily common, and you may not have this option. In this case, I would recommend a nice ketch as something that’s easy to sail as well as being flexible and roomy.
Finally, there is the issue of age. You would have thought that the new the better would be the rule here, but it’s not as clear-cut as that. Sure new vessels will be in better condition and will probably have newer equipment onboard, but often they are not nearly as strong. In particular, modern technology allows boat-builders to work out what the absolute minimum thickness the fibre-glass needs to be for a yacht to be sea-worthy, making them more vulnerable to the occasional heavy knock. In contrast, in the old days, boat-builders tended to take a belt and braces approach, making the hulls much thicker and stronger than the minimum needed. This can make some of them as close to indestructible as it is possible for a sailboat to be, and so a better choice for surviving the apocalypse in. For this reason, it might be worth considering that twenty year old ketch that looks like an old tub over that brand spanking new yacht next to it.
What ever vessel you select, choosing it is only half the plan. You also need to kit it out properly. That will be covered in my next post.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.