C. M. Drysdale
Taking To The Water
There’s a sign outside a marina somewhere in America that proclaims: ‘Zombies Can’t Swim, Get A Boat!’ While some might see this as just another advertising gimmick, it’s actually pretty sound advice.
In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I’d argue that one of the safest places you could be is on a boat. Why?
It’s quite simple: boats are the pinnacle of mobile, self-contained living spaces. Many have their own water-makers, their own communication equipment, tanks capable of holding enough fuel to allow you to cross whole oceans and the ability to make their own electricity using either a generator, a wind turbine or solar panels (and often all three). On top of this, the sea is crammed full of tasty food just waiting to be caught.
Perfect, isn’t it? Well, not quite.
Zombies and Water
While it is almost universally accepted that zombies (regardless of whether they are the dead risen or living humans infected a disease) can’t swim, this doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t survive in water.
Traditional dead zombies won’t slow down just because they get a bit of water in their lungs, and they may even be capable of walking along the seabed. Even if they’re not, they can float around like the bloated corpses they are. While living infected will drown, they too are capable of floating around, especially if they find something buoyant to cling to. Either way, just because you’re at sea, it doesn’t mean that you won’t run into the occasional zombie.
However, boats have steep, slippery sides and climbing up them isn’t easy. This means there’s little risk of zombies getting aboard, unless, that is, you leave something dangling over the side for them to climb up, like an anchor chain. This means that whenever you drop anchor, you need to always have someone on watch, just in case.
The Zombie-Proof Boat
Your choice of boat will be critical to your long-term survival. Specifically, you’ll want one that doesn’t rely on hard-to-get fossil fuels. While a nuclear-powered submarine would fit the bill here, you’re not going to find one of them tied up at your local marina.
Instead, think sailboat; that way you’ll be able to move around powered by nothing more than the wind. While there’s a myriad of different types of sailboats out there to choose from, I’d recommend something in the range of 35 to 50 feet in length. These are big enough to handle even the roughest seas but small enough that they can be operated by a skeleton crew, and, at a pinch, by a single person.
Personally, I’d recommend a catamaran. They’ve got plenty of space, they’re fast and with a shallow draft they can go places other sailboats can’t.
Seafaring Skills for the Zombie Apocalypse
Sailing isn’t intuitive. It’s something you have to learn. If you want to survive a zombie apocalypse on a sailboat you’ll need to learn those skills now.
This involves learning not just how to sail the boat itself but also how to navigate by the stars, how to maintain all the equipment, how to repair sails and how to read the weather
so you don’t get caught out by approaching storms.
You’ll need to know how to catch fish, too, and how to tell poisonous ones from ones that are safe to eat. However, there’s plenty of courses you can take to learn these valuable skills.
For Those in Peril on the Sea
There are three main problems you’re likely to face when trying to survive at sea.
The first is avoiding scurvy. The only way to do this is to find food rich in vitamin C and this may force you to make the occasional forays ashore despite the dangers that lurk there.
The second is the weather. The sea can be a daunting and dangerous place when the winds pick up, and you will always need to be ready to run for shelter whenever a storm approaches.
Finally, there’s the issue of other survivors. Piracy has always been a problem at sea, and it’s likely that, come the zombie apocalypse, this will only get worse. This means you’ll need to avoid other vessels unless you’re certain they’re harmless.
The last thing you want is to end up being marooned on some desert island as someone else sails off in your boat.
Actually, maybe it would be worse if the island weren't deserted ...
C. M. Drysdale is the author of For Those in Peril on the Sea, a zombie novel about a group of survivors who choose the sea when land is no longer safe.