Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bug Out Book Update

This weekend I'm busying reviewing the final, typeset version of my book, Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late.  This is the final stage before publication, and my editor has sent it to me for one last chance at catching mistakes, making minor changes and approving the illustrations and maps.  I'm extremely pleased with how Ulysses Press has helped me shape my idea into a final product that is better than I ever envisioned.  This is a publishing company that is really with it when it comes to understanding the market and creating books appealing books.  Despite the grim state of the economy, Ulysses Press was listed as one of the ten fastest growing independent publishers in 2009 in this article in Publisher's Weekly.  

What's more, I have another related book in the works to follow closely on the heels of Bug Out, so the remainder of 2010 is going to be just as busy as 2009 was. 

Regarding Bug Out, which is scheduled to be published in May, I want to remind other bloggers and authors reading this that review copies will be available if you have an established blog related to survival, prepping or wilderness skills and would like to write a review for your site.  Just contact me with details of your site or blog and your mailing address and I will put you on the list for a review copy. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kel-Tec Sub 9

Mark Knopfler's song Cleaning My Gun in my last post reminded me of a job that needed doing this morning: stripping and cleaning my Kel-Tec Sub-9 carbine that I'd stashed behind the seat in my truck and forgotten about for awhile.  The Sub-9 is a compact carbine that's easy enough to misplace, seeing how it's only 16 inches long when folded:

This folding feature makes it extremely handy and readily concealable.  Folded away, the Sub-9 will fit unobtrusively in a lap top computer bag, brief case or many other everyday bags.  It can be folded with a magazine locked in place, and deployed almost instantly by unfolding it and racking the slide to chamber a round.

Many readers are probably familiar with the Kel-Tec Sub-2000, which is the current version of this carbine, but may not have seen a Sub-9.  The main difference is that many parts the Sub-9 are built of aircraft grade aluminum rather than the polymer utilized on the less-expensive Sub-2000.  The main reason Kel-Tec changed the design was to get the production costs down.  I got lucky when I found this one that a friend had and bought it at good price along with several mags.  The only downside is that mine is set up to use S&W Model 59 mags rather than Glock 17/19, which would be ideal.   The  mags shown here are 25-rounders, and though they won't interchange with my Glock 19, this set up still represents a respectable amount of firepower in a small package.

The folding configuration is ideal, but unfortunately none of these Kel-Tec carbines, in either the Sub-9 or Sub-2000 version come in a suitable caliber to make good primary bug-out weapons, as the 9mm and .40 S&W are far from ideal for hunting.  But for a general purpose, concealable truck gun or close-range carbine, one of these could be very handy for SHTF.  I've found mine to be absolutely reliable, with no malfunctions in well over 1,000 rounds, and the accuracy is decent out to about 100 yards.  More on the current Sub-2000 at the Kel-Tec website:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Today's Video: Cleaning My Gun

Somehow I missed this relatively new tune by Mark Knopfler until today, when I found it posted on Diogenes of the Rifle. Knopfler's certainly one of the greatest living guitar players in the world. Check it out, lyrics posted below:

Cleaning My Gun

I keep a weather eye on the horizon, back to the wall
I like to know who's coming through the door at us all

It's the old Army training, kickin' in
i'm not complaining
it's the world we live in

Ronny and Malarkey, they're a devious firm
They'll take you to the cleaners, let you burn
The help is breaking dishes in the kitchen,
thanks a lot
We hired the worst dishwasher
this place ever got
Hidden below the radar, they want to spoil our fun?..
In the meantime, i'm cleaning my gun

Remember it got so cold ice froze up the tank
We lit a fire beneath her just so she would crank
Keep a weather eye on the horizon
Tap storm glass now and then
We got a case of Old Damnation
for when you get here my friend

We can have ourselves a party before they come
In the meantime, i'm cleaning my gun

We had women in a miracle, we had a dj
We used to eat pretty much all painless ways
Ever since the goons came in took apart the place
I keep a tire iron in the corner just in case

Gave you a magic bullet on a little chain
keeping safe from the chilly winds
and the howl of the rain

we're gonna might need bullets, should we have stuck
any which way, we're gonna need a little luck

you can still get gas in heaven and drink in kingdom come?.
In the meantime, i'm cleaning my gun

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anyone Willing to Demonstrate Skills/Retreat Location Planning for a TV Show?

I've done several interviews over the phone lately, both with print journalists and television producers working on stories related to survivalist in general and SHTF prepping - both from the bugging-out and bugging-in perspective.  There's an unprecedented interest in these subjects, as readers here obviously know.

One of the more interesting phone calls I got was from a producer in California who is working on a show for one of the major cable television channels.  (These people find me through the hard work of the publicist at Ulysses Press - thanks Karma!  That's one of the benefits of having a book published through an outfit that really knows what they're doing when it comes to marketing and publicity.)

Back to this specific show:  this particular producer is interesting in going on location with a film crew to see how a skilled and knowledgeable group of preppers selects a location to bug-out (or bug-in) to, and would to interview said survivalists for the purpose of showing this interesting and growing segment of current American culture.  Anyone participating in the project will remain anonymous and any retreat/hide-out  locations will not be revealed on the show in a way that will compromise security.  Naturally, many of the prospects he has spoken with are hesitant, but I think it would be interesting as well as informative to less knowledgeable viewers.  I was assured that anyone portrayed on this show will not be cast in any negative light or made-out to be weirdo survivalist freaks.  That's not the point of this at all - unlike something the typical news media producer might attempt.

Being more of a lone wolf who tends to do my own thing on my own time, I'm not part of any network or group of preppers, even of the bug-out variety.  But the producer of this show is very much interested in bringing me in on it as well, if we can find an interesting place with a few good folks who don't mind showing what they've done to prep.  It doesn't matter where you're located, so long as it's in the U.S. Lower 48.

So if any of you reading this are not afraid of the camera and would like to share some knowledge with larger segment of the broader public, please contact me and let me know what you've got.  I feel like this is a worthwhile project and if I didn't believe knowledge was for sharing, I wouldn't be writing here at all.

Go to the contact page or just email me directly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Look at Hybrid or "Crossover" Canoes/Kayaks

A Wilderness Systems Commander rigged for fishing:

I'm interested in just about any type of watercraft that can be paddled, as long as it has a practical application in the real world and is not specialized for purposes like playing in whitewater rapids and such.  Canoes and kayaks in their many variations have lots of advantages over other types of boats for a bug-out survival situation as well as for ordinary wilderness travel, hunting and fishing.  Small, lightweight, easily driven by single or double paddles, silent and low profile; a canoe or kayak can get into some of the best wild places accessible by water, unnoticed by other people or wildlife. 

For long-distance travel by paddle, there is no question that the best canoes and kayaks are the "touring" designs with a long waterline for speed and glide, relatively narrow beam, and good load-carrying capacity for gear and supplies needed on a long journey.  I've owned  many variations of such canoes and sea kayaks, and have paddled them thousands of miles on rivers, lakes, coastal waters and open ocean.  For their design purpose, touring boats are superb.

But there are other situations, such as negotiating small, confined waterways like creeks, where long hulls designed to track straight are not optimal.   Also, for some activities, such as fishing from a kayak, the enclosed deck touring boat is not the handiest choice.  It is the surge in popularity of kayak fishing that has launched a whole new breed of boats that excel for this purpose - both in the form of sit-on-top kayaks for rough open water, and hybrid canoe/kayaks that provide a drier ride in more protected waters.

I've taken an interest in this latter category lately because I am looking into options for a canoe or kayak that can be carried across the deck of the 26-foot catamaran I am building.  With so much open deck space, I would much rather have a craft such as this that can be paddled swiftly and silently than a traditional dinghy that requires rowing backward with oars or propulsion by small outboard.  For a kayak that can serve as a tender to my bigger vessel, I don't need the long-distance capability or complications of a touring sea kayak.  What I need is a boat that can be stored on deck with little regard for maintenance, launched over the side with ease and loaded with jerry cans for shuttling water and other supplies between the anchored cat and the shore.  Because of the low maintenance requirement, the only boats that make sense for this use are the "Tupperware" plastic kayaks that are not only tough but relatively inexpensive compared to boats built of materials like fiberglass, Kevlar or wood-composite construction.

While the sit-on-top fishing kayaks with drain holes (or "scuppers") are more seaworthy for tasks like negotiating surf or a rough chop, in most cases a dinghy to a larger craft is not called on to do this, as the larger craft will be anchored in somewhat protected areas in the lee of an island, reef or other breakwater.  The hybrid type of boat is more appealing to me than the sit-on-top kayak because there is more open space inside for larger items, and in addition, many of these designs have enough stability to allow standing up for flyfishing and other activities.  See my post on bowfishing to understand why the ability to stand would be a distinct advantage.  Although at first glance it seems unlikely that such a narrow craft only 12 feet long would be this stable, especially to those of us who have experience with short canoes and pirogues, the designers of these new hybrid boats achieve this stability through the use of a tunnel-hull type design that almost creates a mini-pontoon hull. 

Speaking of this remarkable stability, here's a video of a professional wildlife photographer who trusts his Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 enough to paddle it with a $10,000 camera and lens combo sitting on a tripod in front of his seat.  That kind of trust says a lot about the confidence these boats inspire:

I can see a boat like the Ultimate 12 or Ultimate 14, or the Wilderness Systems Commander serving well as an individual bug-out vessel in places where there are lots of small, twisty creeks like here in Mississippi, in swamps and in small lake country.  

Since I have yet to inspect either the Wilderness Systems Commander or the Native Watercraft boats, I plan to drive down to New Orleans soon where there is a retailer that has plenty of them in stock.  I'll probably take the most interesting ones out for a demo paddle, as the dealer can arrange that, and may end up buying one if it lives up to the advertising hype.  Here's a more detailed look at the Ultimate 12, which seems best suited for my purposes and is also less expensive than the Commander.  Of course it comes in more subdued colors that would blend in better with nature:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

On Survival Fitness

Last week I posted about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, and how attitude is just as important as gear and supplies in getting you through a survival situation.  Equally important to the survival mindset is basic physical fitness - another part of the equation often overlooked or pushed too far down on the list of priorities by preppers fixated on amassing stuff.  If bugging out is any part of your emergency survival plan, then maintaining at least a minimum level of physical fitness is essential to your success.  A bug-out plan means survival on the move, and any situation requiring such action will be both mentally stressful and physically demanding.  Even if your plan involves transportation by motor vehicle or boat, any long-term grid-down situation will require a lot of hard, physical work in one form or another. 

The problem for many people in our modern high-tech world in times of normalcy is that we don't have enough physical activity incorporated into our daily lives to maintain an adequate fitness level.  It gets worse the busier we get, especially with the demands of making money, spending time with family and other obligations and driving to and from all the places we have to go.  Sitting in front of computer certainly doesn't help either. During the second half of 2009, I spent more time at the keyboard than ever before in order to complete my forthcoming Bug Out book in time to meet  my deadline.  Fortunately, my other part-time work in the afternoons doing carpentry work and building my boat partially offset all that chair time.  Even so, I have to make an effort to do a maintenance workout with free weights three times per week and try to take a decent walk every evening. 

Back when I was doing my long-distance sea kayaking trips, as well as backpacking or bicycling at every opportunity, I never had to worry about staying fit.  My travel time has been cut dramatically lately, but I do plan to spend some time paddling, hiking, cycling and camping this spring.  The other big project is to complete my boat - the 26-foot catamaran that I've been building over the past three years.  My goal is to launch sometime before the end of 2010.  So if my posts here seem too infrequent, it's because I'm out doing something other than sitting at the computer.  After a bit of spring fever passes, I'll settle into a more regular writing routine. 

I urge anyone who is interested in survival, whether by bugging out or bugging in, to consider the importance of physical fitness and the implications a lack of basic fitness will have on you in a real SHTF scenario.  Like a proper mental attitude, physical endurance and toughness will get you through a lot of stuff even if you don't have all the skills and equipment you would like to have.  It's just another part of the necessary preps when putting together a survival plan. 


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