How to Use a Bug Out Boat During an Emergency

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How to Use a Bug Out Boat During an Emergency

In these times of civil unrest, people are looking for different ways to bug out. More and more people are aware that they may need to get out of Dodge quickly. Which means traditional bug out locations may become increasingly crowded…and dangerous.

With that in mind, there is another option for those who can afford it: the bug out boat.

What is a Bug Out Boat?

A bug out boat is basically what it sounds like: a boat that you use in a bug out situation. If you don’t know what bugging out is, you can read this article.

A bug out boat can come in all shapes and sizes, from a small inflatable raft to a larger sailboat. All you really care about is that you have quick access to it when SHTF.

Advantages of a Bug Out Boat

If there is a natural disaster or shtf situation, bugging out on a boat loaded with essential supplies may help you to survive. In times like this, it is best to avoid land and country travels, as roadblocks and checkpoints can be mounted on land routes to slow down any moving vehicle. Not to mention you can be ambushed as you try to escape for survival.

Bridges can also become impassable due to abandoned and broken-down vehicles. However, with boats and good prepping, one could always avoid such situations. As a prepper, you have considered worst case scenarios and prepared for them.

If you have the right kind of boat, you can bug out and escape. There is most likely through a river, sea or ocean in your general vicinity. This is your ideal route to avoid choke points. A post apocalyptic boat helps you exit when circumstances are catastrophic and there are riots in the streets. You have everything you need to survive such as a communications system including internet, desalination equipment complete with large water storage, gear, food, laundry facilities and storage.

A bug out boat offers you a lot of advantages. To begin with, you can move a lot quicker on boats than on foot. One key advantage is the ability to use a coastline, lake, river, sea or ocean to escape from land while carrying a heavy bag impossible on foot. You can store all types of items including:

  • Large pots for distilling water
  • Life jackets
  • Compass
  • Extra blankets and clothing
  • Flare guns
  • Fishing kits
  • Maps and GPS
  • Large tarps
  • Satellite phone
  • Survival knife

What to Look for in a Bug Out Boat

Our first choice for most preppers would be a simple canoe or kayak. Not only are they relatively affordable, but they can traverse many different types of water. If you are really short on space, you can even consider an inflatable kayak.

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
  • ✔ SUPER-TOUGH – 3-ply laminate construction combined with SuperStrong...
  • ✔ STABILITY and MANEUVERABILITY – High-pressure inflation provides...
  • ✔ STORAGE – Extra space in the bow and stern allows for storing any...
  • ✔ 2-PERSON CAPACITY – Inflated size is 12.7 feet x 3.1 feet x 1.6 feet...
  • ✔ ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES – Includes two 86 inch aluminum oars, two...

If you have more funds, consider purchasing a used sailboat. There are hundreds of 25 to 35-foot sailboat advertised for under $50,000 you could choose to buy. Stay away from any used sailboat that seems cheap because they break down frequently. Purchasing a sailboat with a water maker provides you with an almost endless supply of fresh water. You can find boats with an enormous capacity for fuel storage, a power system and a sewage system. All of this should be at the top of your list. Think about what you will need to be comfortable such as:

  • Generator
  • Television
  • GPS
  • Watermaker
  • AC inverter
  • Freezer
  • VHF radio
  • Showers
  • Radar
  • Solar power
  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Full kitchen
  • Diesel motor
  • Large fuel tank

If you are near the coast, you could live off shrimp, fish, oysters, coastal plants and kelp. If you want a food source for a virtually indefinite period of time, think about a deck garden. Consider your energy source. Sailing vessels often come with solar systems and wind turbines providing limited power or an enormous bank of batteries. If you purchase a modern boat, you may have electric drives. If your boat is a minimum of 28 feet, you will have a generator. You can even set up your vessel for off-the-grid.

Security depends on your location. If on islands, your best option to hide your boat is a small private cove. You can relax, fish and remain safe. The most important considerations are shelter, food, security, water and energy. Keep in mind, if you never need to bug out, you can keep your boat at a marina for recreation. Either way, a boat is a good investment. There are numerous advantages to a newer model because the majority are equipped with contraptions and tools for survival. Sailboats offer:

  • Electric desalinization system to produce fresh water
  • Radio equipment to contact water vessels when necessary
  • Battery banks rechargeable with wind power
  • Storage space for supplies

Choosing the Right Bug Out Boat

You can even find boats equipped with climate controls and entertainment systems. The best boat for your needs depends on the nearest river, sea or ocean, and how fast you can safely reach your vessel to move off shore. You need to decide if you plan on remaining in the same area or moving to different locations. If you live near an isolated island or two you can find cover there. Make certain your boat is protected from storms, provides good visibility in the event of unwelcome guests and offers concealment.

Make certain your boat is equipped for oceans, lakes, rivers and streams so you can take advantage of small game and fresh water. Think about the specific body of water you plan to use to bug out. You need to purchase a boat capable of navigating through the entire length if you plan to move around a lot. Make a plan for all different kinds of bug out scenarios. Practice and refine your plan until it becomes second nature, Your plan should be flexible and adjustable for every possible situation.

If you do not maintain your boat properly, it would be costly. You can prepare in advance by performing a lot of repairs while moving by keeping supplies on your vessel including fiberglass patch kits and spare parts. Remember, your boat will have a cabin. This means you can bring fresh water and supplies with you. Since you are mobile, if the area you are in becomes dangerous, you can navigate to a much more attractive and safe location.

Staying Self-Sufficient during a Bug Out Situation

You can remain self-sufficient for a long time on your vessel if you make the right preparations. If you purchase a small fishing boat or kayak, you will only have the most basic essentials. Larger boats offer you all of the extras to make yourself comfortable. You can conserve your main fuel supply simply by having a large battery bank installed if your boat is not already equipped. This would provide you with the power you need. No matter which type of boat you purchase, make certain you have:

Water-Tight Containers

You would need water-tight containers to carry everything you need for protection against both bad weather and the water. This includes fresh water supplies, prepaid cell phones, food, ammo, weapons, extra clothing and blankets and tools. Stocking your vessel with plenty of trash bags and freezer, sandwich or zippered bags for dry storage is also a good idea.

Life Jackets

In addition to being required by law, life jackets are a critical essential. Make certain you have enough for everyone on your boat. Place your attention on moving from one point to another. If there are children on your vessel, they can easily fall overboard. The idea is to consider a when SHTF scenario and plan for safety.

Portable Toilets

Your boat needs to have a portable toilet or some kind of reusable system. You also need a coffee can, another container filled with a toilet chemical, toilet paper and small paper bags. If you are moving around a lot, you may have to wait until your waste can be disposed of properly. A plastic or paper bag could be used for holding your waste. It can then be sealed in a coffee can until it can be disposed of. If you do not dispose of your waste correctly, you are leaving a clue others can follow to find you no matter which direction you are traveling.

Assorted Items

There are other things you would need to carry on your boat. They include a rope, a gear, a survival knife, spare parts, first aid kits, insect repellant and a spare paddle. Also make sure to include large sponges, beach towels or bail out buckets made of plastic. You can use these items to mop up or bail out water. They are also useful both on and off your vessel.

All of the items already mentioned in this article are not luxuries. Not only do you need to ensure your safety, but you also need to make certain everyone survives. If the need arises to bug out for a long time, your family should be provided with as normal a life as possible including the conveniences required for psychological well-being, decreasing anxiety and fear and being together.

Think about the length of time your family will spend on your boat, away from land. If you do not establish a good plan for bugging out and provide your family with basic conveniences, your kids will most likely rebel. You can use conveniences and luxuries to convince your family bugging out is a good idea. You would need to consider the pros and cons before you purchase your vessel. This includes safety on whichever waterway is convenient for your geographical location.

Safety During a Bug Out Situation

You would need to decide if you want to live on your boat or use it for transportation. Everyone on your boat must remain vigilant. You could improve safety and security by establishing a drone scout and a watch program. This will protect your boat from pirates, marauders and undesirables. You can carry a good variety of ammo and weapons on your boat for protection, but you can also be exposed. A trap can be sprung by watchers on other boats, or on the shore hiding in buildings. This can expose your location.

You need to consider the potential dangers of boating including heat exposure, severe weather conditions, humidity, water lice, snakes potentially resulting in illness or death, and other SHTF scenarios. Your vessel can sink due to objects in the water such as junk, reefs and logs. Your bug out plan needs to include both education and prepping course, first aid kits and a lot of practice to minimize the dangers. When you bug out, you could find your self in unique situations and hazards you most likely have not encountered.

Your boat is highly visible when you are on the open water. This means your boat will most likely be noticed. You might find yourself in a situation where you would have to decide if you want to fight or flee. You need to consider all of this while you are traveling in your vessel. Make trial runs until you are comfortable with not only your planned but any unplanned routes as well. Have a map and a backup map will all potential hazards you are aware of clearly marked.

Choose the most qualified member of your crew; perhaps one who has a boating experience as a spotter to keep an eye out for v-shaped patterns appearing on the water. This provides you with an early warning of objects beneath the water including branches, sandbars and stumps that can result in accidental damage to your vessel or someone on your boat becoming injured. Whenever possible, look closely at the shoreline during your trial runs. Look for areas where vessels can be hidden, heavy cables or chains can be fastened across narrow openings or an ambush could occur.

Remember, sound travels when you are on the water. This means listening for potential hazards is just as important as watching for them. Practice keeping the noise level on your vessel as low as possible. When you practice and remain vigilant of your surroundings you can keep your family safe when bugging out. During your preparations, you can bond with your family and create memories lasting for a lifetime. Spending time on a boat is also a great way for your family to become used to living off the land, outdoor activities and being prepared.


A bugout boat may prove to be your Ace in the hole in the next disaster. You will be able to avoid the congestion and danger that comes with a mass of people attempting to flee a city at once.

Bugout boats can come in all shapes and sizes, so you obviously want to work within your budget. But if you are near a body of water, having a fully stocked bugout boat can make all the difference in the world.

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