Tag Archives: #oldworld

Coastal Survival

If you live near the coast, you’re in a unique position allowing you to utilize resources from both land and sea. Since there have been and will be many land survival articles, I will focus on the sea aspect in this one.

We’ll start with water. Of course you can’t drink seawater,dis_process until you take the salt out. So how do you take the salt out? There are 3 principle types of desalinization, electrical, thermal, and pressure. Electrical desalinization is a process utilizing an electrical field to remove the salt. It’s technical and papers have been written by universities about it. Due to its complexity it’s really not a helpful process for the average person. Pressure desalinization is the act of using centrifugal force to pull the salt out of the water. Thermal desalinization is the oldest and most natural form of removing salt from seawater.desalinazation So natural, that it occurs by the sun everyday around the world. The water vapor forms clouds and then is released back to earth as rain. We can simply replicate this process a couple different ways. Either using a heat source and distilling the water, or utilizing the suns radiation in a solar still to evaporate the water.

Shelter on the ocean is a serious problem. If you’re in the ocean, you have two serious concerns hypothermia and shark attack. Hypothermia is when the bodies core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. hypothermiaDue to water being an excellent conductor of heat, it can pull the heat out of a body, and since we lose like 80% of our body heat through our head and neck, keep them out of the water. Also don’t shed clothes, they will act as a barrier and your body will heat the water between your skin and your clothes acting as an insulation layer between you and the outside water. On a long enough timeline everyone’s survival rate drops to zero. If the water temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit the danger for shark attack is elevated. The lower the water temperature, the greater the risk of hypothermia due to prolonged exposure, when exposed to cold water the Coast Guard’s 1-10-1 rule applies. The first stage in cold water exposure is Cold Water Shock, you have one minute to control your panic. Studies show that 20 percent of people exposed to cold water die in the first minute; they panic when they are first immersed, breathe in cold water and drowned. The next phase is Cold Water Incapacitation, over approximately 10 minutes you will lose effective control of your body, fingers, hands, legs and arms. You need to deal with self rescue during this brief phase because your ability to swim will become greatly reduced as time passes, if you aren’t  wearing a life jacket at this point and are unable to get out of the water, the odds are pretty good you’re going to drown. The last phase is Hypothermia, you have approximately 1 hour, depending on water temperature, and physical condition until your body shuts down, you lose consciousness and die.fishTrap

Another thing the ocean has in abundance is food; in the form of fish, shellfish and water fowl. Since this isn’t a hunting or fishing article, I won’t get in depth into gathering food but will touch on a few gathering techniques. You can of course always fish with a hook, line and pole. But there are several ways to harvest fish without a line and hook. There are several different types of commercial fish trap available for purchase, but you can also make one from sticks and twine, or using sticks in the sand you can make a tidal fish trap.fishspear16 Making a fishing spear is also an option, it’s a little more complicated than just sharpening a stick, but still not very technical.

When you live near the ocean, like coastal dwelling people throughout history, you must master the sea and to do so you’re going to need a boat. I’m going to talk about boat building next week, but will talk this week a little about some aspects of their use.

When you’re standing on the beach and looking out to sea, due to the curvature of the earth, the horizon is only 8 miles away. You can see larger objects such as cruise ships or aircraft carriers out to 10-12 miles depending on their height but a small motor boat or row boat, you would be lucky to see at 8 miles. If you were sitting in a canoe or kayak out in the water your horizon would be down to perhaps 5-6 miles. This comes into play when we start talking about navigation.N-chart_11451-9

Whether you’re navigating on land or on sea, before you can plan where you’re going; first you must know where you are. To know where you are, you need a map or chart, a compass, and a straight edge. There are a few different grades of certainty that I want to talk about. If you look on your map and find a tower, an antenna, or even a notable landmark or pier that you can see from your location; take a bearing to the object and lay it out on your map with your straight edge, what you have now is a line of bearing. Find another object that is like 50-60 degrees off from the last, and lay it out on your map, you now have an estimated position. Repeating the process and at the point where the 3 lines meet is a fix, for most of what we’re doing here an estimated position will work for what we need, if you’re navigating a deep draft ship in close proximity to shoal water, knowing your exact location is crucial, however if you’re in a row boat, and you know where you are within 100 or 200 yards, you will be fine because from there you can visually navigate to where you want to go.


Bushcraft: Time and Direction

This week we’re going to cover some bushcraft basics. Knowing an approximate time of day or night is a useful ability when hiking, camping or working outdoors. When out in the wilderness you should always have a compass, but if it should become lost or broken, knowing how to find your way is pretty important.

We’ll begin with some global facts. Both the sun and moon rise in the east and set in the west. In the northern hemisphere they track through the southern portion of the sky and in the southern hemisphere the reverse is true. In the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere during the summer there is approximately 14 hours of daylight and 10 hours of dark;timezone while in the winter there is 10 hours of daylight to 14 hours of dark. The southern hemisphere is exactly the opposite from the northern and around the equator it is basically 12 hours of each all year long extending to the mid-latitudes in the spring and fall. Noon or “high noon” occurs at the high point of the sun tracking through the sky if you live in the center of your time-zone and it isn’t daylight savings time. As an example, in Chicago in the summertime noon would occur 30 minutes prior to the sun reaching its zenith. Add an hour for daylight savings time and subtract 30 minutes because Chicago is on the eastern side of its time zone. Therefore the sun would actually zenith at 12:30 pm.

Knowing when noon is and what part of the year we are in allows us to divide the sky into segments, between 5 and 7 on each side of the zenith depending on the season. So if you have a compass but no watch you can tell the time by the suns position.

If you have a watch but no compass point the hourwatch-as-a-compass1 hand at the sun then put a blade of grass or small twig across the watch halfway between the 12 o’clock position and the hour hand; in the northern hemisphere the half way position is south and the opposite end is north, the opposite is true in the southern hemisphere.

Another useful thing to be able to estimate is the amount of daylight remaining. As the sun begins to get close to the horizon, hold your hand sideways at arms length with the fingers parallel to the horizon, each time-until-sunset-3finger width between the sun and the horizon represents approximately 15 minutes until sunset.

All of the methods above can be duplicated at night with a full moon. It’s when the moon isn’t full that things become a bit complicated. Look at the phase of the moon and divide the circle of the moon by the number of segments of hours in the night. For example in the summer divide by 10 in winter 14, counting from the right side the number of dark segments tells how many hours before sunrise the moon will set in the case of a waning moon. In the case of a waxing moon it tells how many hours after sunset the moon will rise. By knowing what time the moon will rise and set allows us to know when the moon will be at zenith thus directly south in the northern hemisphere. So in the case of the moon graphic,moonPhase on a summer night, the moon is divided into 10 increments, the dark portion is 2 increments therefore the moon will set 2 hours before sunrise. In this case, sunrise corrected for daylight savings time would be approximately 6:00 am and sunset would be 8:00 pm, moonrise would be 2 hours before sunset and moonset would be 2 hours before sunrise, or moonrise at 4:00 pm and moonset at 4 am. Therefore the moon would be at zenith at 10:00 pm, or directly south in the northern hemisphere.


Stockpiling Water

Every day we go about our lives, we get up take our showers, wash our clothes and dishes, every time we turn on a faucet, water comes out. If you’re anything like me there have been times that you turn that faucet and water hasn’t come out. It’s inconvenient and maddening, but what if it was the new normal. If you woke up one morning and the shower didn’t work and neither did the lights. You groan in frustration and pick up your cell phone, the screen is blank and won’t turn on. Whatever the circumstances, the point is that we need on average between 2 and 3 liters of water per day. If you’re not lucky enough to have your own well, where is it going to come from if the water stops flowing? Even discounting the run on the grocery stores to buy every last drop, what happens when that’s gone?

In an emergency situation, you can dig a hole in the ground, put a cup in the bottom and cover the hole with black plastic and put a small pebble or weight on the plastic above the cup and condensation will roll down the plastic and collect in the cup, but that won’t produce 3 liters per day.waterCup

I’m lucky enough to have multiple fresh bodies of water near my home. All I need is a filtering system and I’m golden! Let’s talk about some filtering systems.

There are hundreds if not thousands of commercially available water filtration systems, but over time filters lose their effectiveness and must be replaced or replicated.

The 5 steps of water filtration are:

Screening, Water is passed through a screen which removes large debris. Water pulled from a ground source may not need this step.

Coagulation, alum and other chemicals are added to the water which cause Floc or sticky particles that attract dirt and contaminants, which sink to the bottom of a storage tank.

Sedimentation, water and floc flow into a sedimentation tank where the floc falls to the bottom

Filtration, the water is then passed through gravel, sand and perhaps charcoal.

Disinfection, chlorine or other disinfecting chemical is used to kill micro organisms and keep the water safe to drink. If using ground water this maybe to only step needed.

In a SHTF or emergency situation CPVC marked NSF-61 or NSF-PW has been tested to be safe for drinking water,filter use a piece about 4 inches in diameter and about 4 feet long. Put a rounded cap on one end with a hole drilled in the middle. Put about 2 feet of sand in the bottom and 1 ½ feet of gravel on top of that, leaving about a foot of room on the top to pour water in, and poof instant water filter.

Use 8-16 drops or ¼ teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water for the disinfection of filtered water, or 2% tincture of iodine at 5 drops per 1 quart of filtered water. In the absence of these chemicals boil water at a full rolling boil for 1 minute.

Here is a great article on drilling your own well.



Reap What You Have Sown

It is the perfect time of year to start planning how you can best use the space you have to supplement your grocery budget. Yes, I am talking about a garden. No, you don’t have to have acres of space to have one. plan-ahead-vegetable-gardening-in-small-spacesEven with a space as small as an apartment patio you can have a garden. Like with everything else, it’s all about planning! The one thing that shouldn’t need to be said, but I will anyway, is that if you plant something you’re not going to eat, you may as well plant flowers…

So what should you plant? It really depends on what you like to eat and how much space you have. Sunset.com offers their 21 best crops for an edible garden and it’s a great place to start. If you have a small suburban yard like I do there are any number of fruits and vegetables that you can grow, from strawberries and corn to apple trees and squash. However, just because I have the space to have a large garden, I don’t have the time or inclination to be a full-time farmer, or gardener for that matter.

The question is, what do I have time for? I don’t want to spend a lot of time weeding and tending.container-garden-0410-x I do love fresh tomatoes and hot peppers so they are a must. Since those are 2 of the ingredients for salsa I may as well add the other 2, onions and cilantro, also maybe a planter full of fresh strawberries. I also want potatoes, carrots and perhaps some corn. As you can see, I don’t eat a whole lot of vegetables and a large victory garden would be wasted on me, even if I had the time or desire to have a large garden. If gardening is your thing and you want to have a large garden, great! More power to you and even what you don’t eat can be donated. It’s just not my thing…

Basically what you want to do, is look at the space you have available (no one says you have to use all of it) and plan the most effective use of your space. If you’re limited to an apartment patio, then you’re limited to container gardening. gardenIf you’re like me and have a yard but also a destructive pet, either container gardening or some other type of enclosure is a necessity. In planning your space you should not only think about how and what you’re going to plant but what goes well with what. Like in my tomato and hot pepper scenario, if planted too close together the tomatoes will pick up some of the heat from jalapenos or habaneros, which is fine for salsa but most people in my house don’t want spicy tomatoes on a sandwich. There are many resources out there for what plants go well together and why, as well as what not to plant together. Going into gardening in that depth is beyond the scope of this article and I have included one such link here.

planterboxAnother consideration is the type of containers you use. There are many options, with many different price tags. There are many considerations, drainage, aesthetics, and cost to name just a few. Tractor Supply has some very aesthetically pleasing, galvanized steel troughs that could be adapted to container gardening. However, with a little effort and few tools you can make some gardening containers almost free, using a couple old pallets. I also found this graphic from the Denver Post on creating a spud box. It looks like a simple and ingenious idea for growing potatoes and report that some claim to harvest 100 pounds of potatoes in just 1 box.potato_footer

One must also consider the type of soil and fertilizer to use. Gardening soil is great to mix into the soil in your backyard however has drainage issues when used for container gardening. The best soil to use in container gardening is a compact resistant, “soilless” container mix with a liberal amount of general purpose granular fertilizer. Ensure there are plenty of drainage holes and use gravel in the bottom so they don’t become clogged. If you’re into composting a shovel or two of organic compost would also be beneficial.



The Old World Revisited


I read a popular blog post last week that posed the question, “Is living within 100 miles of a city of 1 million people safe after an SHTF event?” After posting my opinion. We had my son and his family at our house for the Christmas holiday and I started thinking about family separation in an SHTF event… I live northwest of Fort Worth and my son lives southeast of Dallas, in other words my concern is that I have over 7 million people separating us! I also have 2 daughters and grandchildren in Southern California, a grandson in Washington and a son in Utah. In an event such as a nuclear or EMP attack, travel of thousands of miles would be difficult and deadly, but even hundreds of miles with certain obstacles may as well be thousands!


To start with, in an EMP/nuclear attack all distance communication would be wiped out. Any vehicle with electronic ignition and fuel injection would be absolutely useless. Any vehicles that still work would be subject to confiscation by governmental officials under martial law or by outlaws. Horses or other pack animals would be desired not just for their use to ride but as meat for starving people, since hunting/trapping has become a lost art to the common city dwelling modern human. Even with a car, how far could a person get? 5 or 600 miles then what? What happens when the gas runs out? What happens to families like mine that are scattered around the country, to kids that are off at college, dads that are truck drivers or moms that are flight attendants or on a business trip in New York when it hits? How many of us are prepared to walk hundreds or thousands of miles to get home? Do you have a plan in place for your family to execute in your absence?


There’s no question that large population centers will be a dangerous obstacle when traveling. Whether they are run by a government official, military force, or former criminal boss turned ruler, what he/she/they see as most beneficial may be at your expense with very little you can do about it! Whether by vehicle, horse, ox cart, or on foot large population centers should probably be avoided!


If you travel on a regular basis, have and know how to use paper maps. Large scale maps of where you are and possible routes home and small scale maps of the area you are visiting and any points of interest/concern in your proposed path. A thought worth mentioning on this subject however… Any points/routes plotted on a map will be subject to compromise if the map is lost or stolen! If you don’t want your bugout location or families location known, plotting them on the map is probably not a good idea! Besides look at it from an outsiders point of view, someone who has a map and a plan is noteworthy and probably has resources worth taking.


Many possible threat events could push us back 150 years or more. The problem is that travel in the ways of the old world is only the beginning of our problems! 150 years ago there was an infrastructure in place that was based on a technology that has been antiquated and replaced many times since then. How do we go from cell phones and robotics back to pony express and carrier pigeon; from supermarkets and fast food to hunting, harvesting and non refrigerated food storage? Do we have the knowledge and skills to survive without modern conveniences?