Those of you out there that feel I am a bit too harsh on the preppers that appear on the show will enjoy this write-up as it contains my first Doomsday Preppers Mea culpa. Also, PLEASE let me know that you get the reference I am making in the title of the article…I hate wasted comedy.
Alright, so first out of the chute and into the arena is Kevin Coy, who is planning to escape the volcanic eruption of the Yellowstone Super Volcano by bugging out. What you don’t get to see is that Kevin actually runs a website about self-reliant living and building “small homes”. This information is available at Kevin’s website. On Kevin’s site you will find information on processing meat, building small houses, gardening and many other aspects of self-reliant living, which is a wonderful thing to know and understand. I popped around on the site for a few minutes and it looked like it had some interesting and valuable information. Kudos to Kevin for the self-reliance.
Unfortunately for Kevin, this is about his segment on Doomsday Preppers, which didn’t go so well. The segment starts with Kevin’s wife looking extremely uncomfortable. We find out later in the segment that she doesn’t want to kill any animals that they have raised for the purpose of killing and processing, but Kevin wants her to “experience” it so she is prepared to do it if it is ever necessary. This is “strike 1” for Kevin. What he isn’t understanding is that this is a mother, and if it actually came down to it there are not many mothers out there that wouldn’t or couldn’t kill an animal to feed her family. Sure, she might not do it right now just for training, but you can bet your ass that pig turns into bacon real quick if momma thinks her kids are hungry.
Strike 2 comes a few minutes later when we learn that the family is bugging out with an entire caravan of vehicles and towed items. If I am remembering correctly there was an RV, a charter bus, a truck with a trailer and a flatbed truck that was supposed to carry a “small house” (more on this later). Also, there was a boat that looked WAY too small for that family and no one really explained which vehicle would be towing it but it was there and available if roads were impassable. Unfortunately at that point the boat is on the impassable road, not in the water, so good luck!
I have several issues with all of these vehicles. Issue #1 is that they are really spreading themselves thin in regards to security and ability to cover ground quickly. If someone gets tired of driving all of the vehicles have to stop. If someone gets injured they lose a vehicle, and everything in that vehicle quite possibly. Due to the size and maneuverability of the vehicles they are really not going to fare well if there is a lot of debris on the road or traffic. The son-in-law mentioned mounting a cow catcher or brush guard on the charter bus but as of the airing of the show it had not been done. None of these vehicles are capable of rough terrain, which is quite possible after a huge volcanic eruption. Another problem is that this line of vehicles would certainly draw some attention and it screams “we are prepared” to anyone looking. You have just become a target.
Strike 3 is the “bug out test”. The plan failed, and it failed miserably. I don’t believe a single aspect of that plan was completed without issue and many aspects were not completed at all. The “small house” never made it onto the flatbed, the animals didn’t fit or couldn’t be lifted into their spots in the trailer and no one seemed to be in control of the situation. Most of the family members were trying to make decisions on their own without informing the group or discussing the ramifications. In the end nothing was accomplished, the bug out was stopped and had this been a real event the family would either be dead or traveling down the road with only some of their supplies and vehicles.
The continuous references to “small houses” are regarding these little houses the Kevin is building. Basically they look like a cross between a kid’s clubhouse and a shed. I don’t honestly see the point of them, but I guess if you want to carry along a “shelter” and don’t like tents this would be an option. Seems to be more trouble than it’s worth.
Now, as to the failed bug out, I agree with most people that even a failed test is good because you learn from your failures. I agree that looking at other people’s plans from the outside is sometimes easier than viewing them from the ground. Lastly I agree that Kevin and his family had a lot of good stuff going on in their self-reliant living plan.
The reason I call this a failure for Kevin and his family is that they have not followed a very simple rule of prepping…
Prepping Rule: Start with small achievable goals to increase your survivability and work up from there.
It certainly appeared to me that Kevin had decided to make his bug out plan extremely complex and involved all at once instead of adding components one at a time. Laying out an exfil on paper is very easy and on paper everyone knows what they are doing and it all gets done. You can assign arbitrary completion times and figure up a time that it would take to complete the plan and everything seems great…until you practice it. Real life is messy and a bug out is a fluid event, not a static event where you can dictate when and where everything happens. Simple plans make things a LOT easier.
My advice to Kevin would be to scrap his plan and start from the beginning. Practice each part and as they become proficient in that part, add more components. The various skill sets were very good and the cross training seemed to be good. All they need is a simplified plan to use as a foundation. Again, kudos on the self-reliant living, it is important.
On a personal note, I missed the PP score by ONE stinking point on this segment.
The second segment of Doomsday Preppers featured a man who goes by the moniker, the Nautical Prepper. His name is Captain William E. Simpson and if you hadn’t guessed it yet, his plan to escape doomsday involved a boat, errr ship. It didn’t appear that any of the plans in this segment didn’t involve the ship, so let’s just skip to the chase.
The ship in question, The Iron Maiden, is a 70ft long ship with a hull encased in steel and an ice-breaker bow. The ship is also fitted with a mast for a large sail and many other accoutrements that make it anything but a standard yacht club sally. Captain Bill and his family are preparing to survive an EMP event in this ship and live on the open water while all of us terrestrial folk fight it out in the dirt.
As the episode starts the viewers were shown an array of electronic devices and then told the ship is “a Faraday cage” so all electronics are safe from EMP. This was my first real problem with the segment. I don’t believe this ship would be a proper Faraday cage and in the event of a large EMP I think the devices on that ship would almost certainly go down. Now, even if they don’t, there is still a problem. The marine radio won’t be helpful anymore because no one else’s boat is built as a Faraday cage. The cell phone won’t work, the satellite phone won’t work, the GPS won’t work. All of the systems they connect to will have been destroyed by the EMP.
Now, this in and of itself doesn’t mean failure. A good captain can navigate without electronics in open water in many cases and the ship can even be powered without engines due to the sails. However, there are still some issues.
If we grant that the ship is NOT a Faraday cage, then all electronic systems on the ship will fail in the event of a large EMP, which is the named source of catastrophe in this segment. Now, although the boat can still be operated at this point without power, there were a few things I noticed that would cause some considerable grief without power.
The anchor was raised and lowered with an electric winch. This ship is 70ft with nearly 90 tons of displacement, so that anchor is not small. Depending upon where you are at, getting it dropped and raised could take considerable time and effort without power. Yes, they can be raised by mechanical winch, again, it is time and energy we are talking about here.
The water desalinization plant was run electrically. If this unit is not able to function there is no fresh water. If the ship is 400 miles out from land when the power dies and they have no stored water, this is bad news. Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
The vast majority of instrumentation was electrical, and I am sure the Captain can navigate open waters without them, but coming into port or going into a river would require navigational tools unless he possessed extensive prior knowledge or complete maps. This could be an issue.
In regards to non-electrical issues there is the lack of security on the boat. We were shown a couple of spear guns and a flare gun, but nothing else in regards to security. Now, maritime laws are very strict about firearms and I applaud the captain for not openly violating those laws, but there are other means of security that can be employed without adding firearms to the ship. In a SHTF event this ship would certainly draw attention and the owner had better hope he sees trouble coming before it reaches him or he’ll be boarded and taken in minutes.
So, in an EMP event I think this ship doesn’t provide the security, safety and performance expected. I don’t believe the Faraday cage claim to be accurate and the ship just doesn’t have enough backup systems to provide for the crew if the electrical fails.
This brings us to my Mea Culpa. Last night on twitter (@ZombieApocGuy) I was talking about why I would not be on a boat when bugging out because of various issues. I won’t go into them all on here because it would make this article very long, but they were numerous. This morning I visited Captain Bill’s website and looked over the actual specs of the Iron Maiden and I feel a bit differently now than I did last night. I feel Doomsday Preppers did a disservice to Captain Bill when talking about his boat as it has a wide array of backup systems and support systems and is very well-appointed for long stretches of open water living. Many of these systems were completely left out of the segment, not even mentioned, and are truly vital to the overall survivability of this vessel in a SHTF event. You should go to his website and check them out.
After reading all of the specs I have decided to modify my earlier sentiment as follows: The Iron Maiden would be a great ship to bug out on in MOST SHTF events, excluding those involving electrical systems interruption such as EMP. I could certainly see the advantages of the Iron Maiden in the event of a global financial collapse, economic collapse in the United States, break out of war within US orders or even internationally and many other events. The ship is well-appointed and the pictures on Captain Bill’s site (http://williamesimpson.com) show a much better view of the comfort level of the ship as well.
Now, that being said I stand by my claim that this ship would not be the ideal place to bug out in the case of EMP. Too many potential failures that would quickly lead to death. Pretty much any other disaster? Sounds like a decent plan with just a few modifications.
As it turns out, and perhaps part of the reason Captain Bill did the show, the Iron Maiden is for sale and Captain Bill has recently written a 300 page book on Nautical Prepping. Come on now, you didn’t REALLY think we would have a show without a sales pitch did ya?
Until next time…..
Just as he did after Practical Preppers scored him, Captain Bill has taken issue with my opinions. Out of courtesy to him as a prepper I am posting a link to his website where he posted the “response”. I cannot reply to him there because he has closed his comments. Please note that as with all of my posts I have left the comments section open….
The Captain takes great pains to point out that I have absolutely no knowledge of anything in his post. I don’t understand particle physics as he does, so obviously I am inept and cannot discern whether his ship is constructed as a proper Faraday cage.
Captain Bill also stated that I don’t know anything about maritime laws regarding firearms (I said they were strict) and he goes on a lengthy tangent about how they are different all over the place, and describes what I would consider a few strict laws. Oh well.
The vast majority of the response purports to explain just how smart Captain Bill is in case there was any question, and to make sure that I know exactly where I fall in this food chain. Oh well, to each his own.
Captain Bill also accuses me of “hiding” behind an alias so that I can simply run to a new alias when people find out I am a fraud. He got a little touchy about my article I think. I especially love the end of his response when he asks that I be “an honorable person” and give his response the same attention in my tweets, but he has his comments closed on the page. So I have to be honorable to him, but he doesn’t need to extend the same courtesy.
So, in response to his response, I say this…
Captain Bill, thank you for you time and effort in dispelling all the myths I have spun about your fabulous and earth shattering boat. I mean, seriously, how DARE I presume to have an opinion about a 30 minute segment of television without first asking you for a complete schematic of your floating castle. Thank you also for pointing out the areas of my knowledge that are lacking so that I may further study and learn. Please find solace in the fact that someday I hope to be as well rounded as yourself.
Now in real life I will add this…
99% of the people that saw that segment don’t believe your boat is a functional Faraday cage, I just happened to be the one that wrote about it. If you were watching the tweets about your segment, you would know this to be accurate, but in case you disbelieve me, you can certainly go through and read them yourself. If you feel that the boat is adequately protected against EMP, then you should rest easy in that knowledge and not worry about people like myself.
I believe the segment about your security to be on the mark for what was televised. You have two spear guns and a flare gun. I believe in my post I stated that firearms laws were strict and I applauded you for not being an idiot and pulling out artillery on the show. I am so sorry to have paid you a compliment, I will make sure not to do it again seeing that this is the reaction. I then stated quite accurately that there are many other security options you could choose besides firearms. If you saw this as a knock on your plans then you are far too worried about other people’s opinions.
In regards to my “apology” I was sincere. I followed up the segment by reading about your boat and seeing that it was much more capable than I had originally thought and I admitted to that fact. That however did not change my opinions on the Faraday cage claims, the security issues or the overall lack of a plan. You can have the most amazing tools in the world but if you don’t have a plan for using them they can become worthless. According to the show your plan was to create a boat and sail off into the ocean. That’s fantastic but it isn’t really a plan, it’s an action and it isn’t the “final action” of anything that ends well. I understand you are a capable captain and you can fix broken items on your ship, but I also submit that many ships are lost every single year that have very capable captains and very experienced crew.
Lastly you claimed that I am “hiding” behind a moniker in order to run away to a new name once people find out I am wrong about something. You are wrong on that account, sir. Just in case you can’t find it or don’t want to trouble yourself with looking, my name is Alex Newton and I live in Indiana. If you were to click on my book page there is a bio about me on my Amazon page. It is brief but it provides you with the information you need to know who I am.
The mention of the boat being for sale and the book is an ongoing storyline from most of the preppers appearing on the show that seem to be there simply to get leads for selling their products or garnering business to their website. I don’t know your reasons for wanting to appear on the show and I am sure you would gladly tell me that they were completely altruistic. That’s fine, we can leave that alone.
In closing, Captain, I will say that you are not the first to take offense at my recaps of the show. I can honestly say that what I wrote about your segment was much more positive than anything else I have written in regards to Doomsday Preppers and after seeing your reaction to Practical Preppers assessment, I can say I am certainly not surprised to have heard from you. I don’t blame you, I did the same thing when I received a bad book review. It is hard not to react in a negative fashion when someone seemingly attacks your position or ideals.
In case you missed it in my post, I did make mention that I thought your boat would serve very well in MOST SHTF events and that I felt Doomsday Preppers failed to highlight it’s potential properly. In regards to EMP I still have my doubts. The fact that you would lambast me for that is amazing and just rightly shows exactly what you think of yourself, and more importantly what you think of everyone else.
Thanks for your response to my post. I would have loved to have posted this on your site but apparently you don’t allow people to write opinions contrary to your own.