The Sea-Going Retreat; Medical Thoughts

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One of the options for a retreat that few of us will consider is that of buying a boat and sailing off to safe haven in times of collapse.  For most of us, the distance to the ocean is simply too far to make this a reasonable option.  For those who have access to the ocean or a Great Lake, however, this is a serious possibility that should not be ignored.  Imagine being able to live comfortably in your bug-out vehicle!  You have protein readily available in fishing, true mobility away from civil unrest, and a plethora of technology that has already been worked out to give you power, in solar and wind energy.  There are issues in terms of limited storage area, but creative use of caches at various locations may be a solution. Given the depressed status of the boat sales market, your mobile retreat may be more affordable than you think.

There are some drawbacks, or perhaps we should call them challenges (Doom and BLOOM, remember?).  You’re probably looking for a sailboat, not a motorboat due to the probable lack of available fuel.  Learning the skill of sailing would be important.  Fresh water may be an issue, although desalinization units for sea water exist in family-size units.   You will have to develop some skill at working your wind turbine or solar cells.  In any case, it’s true that the decision to sail is a complex one.

Medical Sea-Worthiness and Nautical Medicine

With so many issues involved in outfitting your bug-out boat, it’s easy to overlook the all-important topic of medical sea-worthiness.  Just like most landlubbers deal with medical emergencies by calling 911, most yachtsmen respond to the same by radio-ing “Mayday” and waiting for help to arrive.  This is even more unlikely to arrive by sea than by land in a collapse situation.  A medical emergency could occur hours or even days away from organized help, and this is where your collapse medical kit comes into play.

The most important steps you can take to prepare for a medical emergency at sea will be to have reliable communications, a good first aid kit, a supply of emergency pharmaceuticals, and maybe even some portable oxygen and a defibrillator.  Even more important is to have a plan of action for every eventuality.  In addition to standard first aid supplies, your medical bag (waterproof) should include items such as a suture kit, tourniquets, blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, Epi-pens and a pocket mask rescue breather.  One particularly useful item is the Evac-U Splint, an inflatable splint that takes up very little of your precious storage space.  A seagoing library of medical reference books is also important.

Weather and sea conditions will play a major part of your medical relief efforts, so have ways planned out to secure medical items before and during their use.  One caution, however:  It is easy to stow away your medical gear so well that it is not readily accessible when you need it.  Be sure to make your supplies easy to reach.

First Aid training and more advanced education is imperative, and there are courses available that comply to U.S. Coast Guard Standards through companies like Maritime Professional Training and Marine Medical International.  The gold standard is the “Medical Person in Charge” course,
a seven-day course that teaches suturing; IV therapy; treatment of exposure; treatment of dive injuries; infectious diseases; poisoning/overdoses; OB/GYN emergencies; cardiovascular and respiratory emergencies, and a number of other life-saving techniques. Check it out online at
If you intend to sail out of harm’s way in a collapse, confirm your state of preparedness by having the right training and supplies for your environment.  You’re the captain AND the group medic; you’re the end of the line with comes to the medical well-being of your crew.  Make sure you’re up to the task!

Joe Alton MD, aka Dr. Bones

Hey, don’t forget to check out our entire line of quality medical kits and individual supplies at Also, our Book Excellence Award-winning 700-page SURVIVAL MEDICINE HANDBOOK: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE FOR WHEN HELP IS NOT ON THE WAY is now available in black and white on Amazon and in color and color spiral-bound versions at

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