The above graph is adapted from Limits to Growth, Revisited. It is not a hard and fast prediction, but rather the product of a model with 40 years of high correspondence with developments. We are, at present, at the top of the growth curves, many of which have already begun to plateau. Slopes of decline do not factor in such worst-case scenarios as widespread urban- or domestic nuclear facilities collapse consequent to economic collapse.

I've added the shading and 'crossover' circle' (coincident with 'peak everything') to indicate my best guess as to the high probablility zone for global, economic collapse, triggering the onset of TEOTWAWKI.

I fear a hard landing... no 'reboot' or 'transition' to a lower functioning economy. I urge high priority preparation now.

I've got a short glossary of terms at the bottom of this page... if you come across an unfamiliar term, please scroll down and check it out.

Information I'm including or pointing to doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it. Rather, I've found it to be stimulating and worthy of consideration. I'm sure you'll exercise your own judgement... we're nothing if not independent! 8)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ruminations on SHTF Strategy

Get lost!

Not being tense but ready.
Not thinking but not dreaming.
Not being set but flexible.
Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement.
It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.

-- From Tao of  Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee

Ruminations on SHTF Strategy

Like so many Preppers over the years, we have pursued a distinct SHTF strategy. In this post, I'd like to share our thinking for your consideration.

This strategy is built around the notions that a) S will HTF, b) it's very difficult to foresee the actual conditions that will pertain when it does, and c) we may be driven off or separated from every material possession we have accumulated in its advance.

Our strategy centers around several key elements:

Subsistence Environment

We have sought out an environment in which it is possible to subsist comfortably with neolithic technologies. Were we to become separated from every material possession, it would be possible to thrive from local resources.

This underwrites all the rest with a fail-safer option... under no scenarios in which we remain free and able do we perish for lack of sustenance.

An important aspect of this area are abundant water, and wild forage, fish and game. The world is a garden, and likely to become even more so, post collapse.

By not relying on domestic plants or animals (to which we are bound from till harvest and beyond), we are less of a target for others.

Social Distance

Our chosen environment is sparsely populated, and requires both knowledge and material resources to venture beyond its sub-urban centers.

This buffers us from pandemic SHTF, initial, paroxysms of social unrest and, likely, from predator individuals or groups preying on concentrations of survivors and resources in the towns.


 "Sailboats are the only vehicles on this planet with unlimited range." (Paraphrased from Tristan Jones).

Without access to fossil fuels, we are able to access resources, networks and safe havens across a wide range of possibilities. When a location becomes untenable, we  have a chance to shift ourselves and all we possess out of harms way or to where resources are more abundant.

If need be, we can shift out of the region, entirely, to any island or coast in any hemisphere.

Knowledge Base

Skills toward a reasonable life post-SHTF are many. We feel that their on-going acquisition not only enhances our future chances on our own terms, but increases our value should we fall into the hands of others. This seems especially true of medical skills under field conditions.

Shorter-Term Stores

We carry enough stores to see us through what seems a reasonable period to tackle post-SHTF learning curves. These especially include the demographic situation (who's left, where they are located, and what is their character), any transition left to master full subsistence, and relocation allowance should our situation seem untenable.

Longer-Term Tools

These are the material possessions -  - which can increase efficiency in meeting our needs.

Examples include our sailing vessel and gear, wood and timber working tools, weapons, food processing gear, and books of knowledge not yet mastered.

Should we become separated, while it would be inconvenient, we hope it would not be disastrous.

Live It Now

Living the strategy gives us a head start on vital learning curves.

It questions while there's time to remedy answers we don't like... How independent are we? Can we move as we like? Can we improvise? How long do particular stores last? Is our tool set adequate? What knowledge do we wish to acquire? What are our priorities?

We're perhaps fortunate that our strategy very much embodies how we would like to live, anyway. It's inexpensive, good fun, and a healthy lifestyle.

So why wait for S to HTF?


Two strategies we consciously avoid:

Refugee Status

Many strategies begin and pretty much end with a Bug Out Bag (often geared for 72 hours). When SHTF, the thinking goes, we grab our BOB, pack up the car and git out o' Dodge. Went camping as a young 'un... I'll get by.

Problem is 72 hours is just the leading edge of Collapse. Roads clog. Got fuel?

Running the gauntlet of a SHTF exodus from any urban center is a daunting prospect. Dare you leave your family to scout resources or terrain? Do you have relationships with resident locals along the way? Can you protect yourself and yours from bandits? Or even desperate Mr. Jones and family, there, who got out with neither BOB nor blanket? How about a hundred of him, or a thousand?

But the burning question is, where are you going? And are you prepared to survive - much less thrive - once you get there?

Some good SHTF advice: Don't be a refugee.

Bunker Down

At the other end of the strategic spectrum - and at first glance more attractive - is the Bunker strategy. This is usually a camouflaged, fortified combination of living quarters and warehouse.

Downside is that, camouflage or no, folks have likely heard about it. When push comes to shove, it's going to have its attractions for desperate people. Not being mobile gives plenty of opportunity for figuring out the chinks in your armor. At best - by attrition, if nothing worse - the bastards can grind you down. At worst, they can burn you out and naked into the open.

Warehoused stores are finite, and have a shelf-life. Sooner or later, we've got to emerge from our walls and try our hand at gardening, hunting or forage.

It seems to us that the sheer investment in this strategy can tempt one into staying on past that moment when, as Willie Nelson says, ya gotta know when to walk away, know when to run. It's gotta be tempting to 'make a stand', rather than to retreat and regroup.

Meanwhile, once one does emerge, we'd find ourselves behind on the learning curves for how to live outside the bubble.

Theory of warfare generally equates immobility with defeat. What does that tell us?


The Big, Bad Picture

Should SHTF on our national or global scale, I expect all domestics nuclear plant to go LOCA (Loss of Coolant Accident) for want of industrial level support. This means that the Northern Hemisphere is going to be heavily irradiated in short order.

Missing from our strategy is relocation to the Southern Hemisphere on the far side of the Equatorial Convergence Zone (hemispheric wind divide).

Good idea, but it means trading our present life and friends for a shot at a future life with unknown peoples, among whom we would be refugees. We'd trade a good chunk of what learning curves we've climbed to begin at the bottom.

As we age, the potential for return on such an investment is diminishing. If we had made that move as young sailors, maybe. But now?

We'll likely accept what comes here, at home.


  1. Hey Dave, great post, as always. We are on similar lines as you with our thinking, trying to become as self sufficient as possible, live with less and, have the ability to drift off into the distance. Stores for 9 months at a push, energy independent, but there is always more to do and learn. We could increase our solar by 300 watts, install a wood stove, and definitely improve our fishing skills! It is a fine balance between living in the moment and planning for the worst.
    Fair winds

    1. Thanks, Skip,

      Just being afloat is such an advantage, it seems to me. It leans us toward those skills which will see us through, if any can.

      A thought for your list would be to emphasize wild forage... learning what edibles grow naturally in your area. The world is a garden, and likely to become even more so, post collapse.

      By not focusing on domestic plants (gardens to which we are bound from prep to harvest), we avoid becoming 'harvested' by others.

      Dave Z

  2. I'm currently stuck on Plan "A", a passive solar house on a small farm, good job with practical skills and a spouse that supports prepping. My Plan "B" is the Triloboat I am building, so that I can look at becoming a nomad instead of a refuge. Not perfect as a plan, as the learning curve will be steep, but if SHTF holds off, it will be a great recreational vehicle, very suitable for semi-retired travel, and if not, it's the best fall back plan I have that does not involve a divorce

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Partners come first, come what may. I can think of no greater asset.

      As for the rest, we all have to get from where we are to as ready as we can manage. Sounds like you're well on your way.

      It's a privilege to have been of some help!

      Dave Z

  3. For years we've been semi-nomadic. We've a place we spend the warm months in northern NH -low population density, good water, wild foods, solar, wood heat and all that. It's near a lot of friends and family. Also too close to Boston. On the bright side, few travel this far north so are more familiar with southern NH.

    The cold months we've been traveling in the south. We've spent up to 10 weeks on a 19 foot Oday. Would not bother me to travel to the Carib in that boat. Still looking for a slightly bigger boat to spend half the year on. Must be shallow draft to get into all those tight little places we've come to love. FL is a crazy place, but just a few miles from shore it's a different story.

    I used to be 100% fast collapse but now I'm not sure. We've been in a slow collapse for a while now and it could be a long slow grind.

  4. Hi Sixbears,

    Sounds like a good spread. Haven't been Florida way, but got to visit in New Hampshire (very rural vicinity of Keene in S NH). Looks like good subsistence country. Northern end must be better yet.

    Must say I was BLOWN AWAY by how much young forestland there is in northern New England... impression from here has been wall-to-wall cityscape.

    As far as fast vs. slow, it likely depends on what timescales we consider. In evolutionary, geophysical or ecosystemic terms, it's likely to be the blink of an eye. In terms of a human lifespan... well, we've seen a lot of it go on in our lifetimes (the long, slow grind), and may not see the crunch before we punch out.

    Still, my guess is there's a straw-that-breaks-the-camel's-back moment in the near future. I THINK it's likely in the 30 or so years I've got left (optimistically speaking). Certainly lots of vital pillars of the-world-as-we-know-it strike me as near the breaking point.

    Hang on and live large, Bro'!

    Dave Z

  5. Hey Dave, high time for another blog? What is happening to the biosphere in southern alaska. We hear about sea stars etc but what about some trusted views from the locale?
    Just spent some of our limited funds on our forever car ie dinghy. All being well it is good for 15-20years another piece of the puzzle solved. Hope all is well in the west! Currently in Greece, interesting at minute. I'm with them struggling against things beyond their control just trying to feed their families. Still expecting to share a glass of sloe gin further down the road with you.

  6. Hi Skip,

    I'm up to my ears, building on the boat, but hope to get back to it when we take a break.

    No sign of sea star wasting disease where we are, though it hit Sitka. Gave us a start when we saw a bunch of legs only, but we think a critter ate it. No others showed up.

    Wishing Greece the best in hard times, along with the rest of the world... some in much direr straits!

    Let's make that sloe gin date sooner than later! 8)

    Dave Z


Hey Folks... I'm not in a position to moderate comments. If discussion remains respectful and on topic, I welcome comments (passion okay). If it spins out of control, I'll have disallow them... I thank you for your civility.

I've opened comments to all 'Registered Users' (whatever that means!) to help weed out pesky spam.

- Dave Z