Have a plan or you'll be scrambling when the zombies attack
Ah yes, zombies. They love the night, hide in unexpected places, and desperately seek to consume your flesh – but they don’t swim. The most dedicated might, perhaps, walk along the riverbed to get across, but they’re slow; also, I’ve never seen them crossing large bodies of water, like oceans. As long as you’re in the ocean you could easily pull up anchor to escape once you saw the throng heading into the waves towards your anchored vessel. Being able to distance yourself from the horde of undead is only one reason to plan on using your sailboat to survive the apocalypse.
It’s hard to rank these with regard to importance as some are interdependent while others are advantageous, but not critical. It is also difficult to be sure that all the most common concepts are covered, such as, what if your sailboat is on a lake? Should you be more worried about survivors swamping your boat trying to escape land or zombies walking along the lake bottom? Most of the most critical ideas can be modified for lake survival and perhaps adapted to escaping down a river. If you will be considering a river escape, you’ll want a powerboat, since zombies won’t be inclined to open draw bridges for you. Get yourself a sailboat once you’ve reached the shore, and apply the following concepts:
The wind powers your home, and you don’t need to go ashore to get it. Your sailboat should be equipped with a spare set of sails and a good sewing machine to keep the boat’s power source in optimum condition. If you do need to refill the engine now and again, most marinas have a fuel dock with no house nearby for zombies to hide in. A quick trip in to fuel up, maybe grab some water, and you are off, away from the dangerous shoreline. Another advantage is that docks are usually clear so you’ll see the zombies coming as soon as their feet hit the wood.
It might not be the most exciting diet, but you’ll be able to eat all the fish you can catch. With no other people fishing, the sea life will increase rapidly and your chances of actually catching something will improve greatly. Search any abandoned boats you come across for the rusting cans of beans they all carry. Plenty of seaweed is edible, and you can always plan raids on areas that appear to be zombie free. You’ll have plenty of time to hang out offshore and watch for activity.
Small or large, your sailboat will have a place to sleep. Granted, it may be a little small, or require a gymnastics background to get in to, but it’s there. Keep your sailing range to the equator and you won’t even need blankets. More talented sailors will choose to move up and down their chosen coastline to take advantage of the best weather. It’s always possible that a hurricane has cleaned a coastal area of zombies and you’ll have time to go ashore and stretch your legs before the inland zombies repopulate the area.
No self respecting zombie would ever choose to live in a boat, so every marina you come across will be filled with abandoned boats just waiting for you to strip them of all the necessary gear. A few things, like radios, won’t be of much use, unless you believe there are pockets of survivors calling out their locations. I can’t imagine any of them would be giving you weather reports so unless you’re looking for survivors (and I would highly recommend against that as there always seems to be one or two infected people amongst them) don’t worry about a radio. Just get the good stuff and the beans.
The one thing cruisers have in abundance is movies. Sailing gives you a lot of free time and you can only watch the waves for so long. The downside is that people that live on sailboats tend to be cheap, which means that most of your viewing selections (from your vessel, and salvage from abandoned vessels) will be the bad, bad slasher-type DVDs commonly found in the $1 bin at discount stores. The ghost-of-the-psychopathic-ice-climber-taking-out-the-teenagers-one-by-one type of movies. Of course, many zombie DVDs also fall into this category, so perhaps you’ll have access to a lot of training videos. Bonus!
If you’ve been able to save some friends along with yourself, you had better really like these people. Even when you’ve managed to trade your way up to something giant that sails, your living space will still be pretty danged small when compared to the houses you all used to live in. With enough people, though, you could always do sort of a “Survivor” plan and have secret alliances that choose who will be used as bait, should you miscalculate and run into some serious zombie action. Maybe seeking out nests of survivors would be a good idea after all.
Well, you have a problem here; as a rule, cruisers don’t carry firearms – something about ending up in 3rd world prisons seems to dissuade most people. While you can attempt raids on land-based strongholds, this is not generally a good idea as these tend to be guarded by survivalist who shoot first, ask questions later. Your better bet is to get creative with what you will likely find: flare guns, the occasion spear fishing setup, and lots and lots of little tiny pocketknives. Consider creating oars that double as weapons by attaching knife blades to them. Don’t dismiss the value of a good whack with a frying pan, either.
Look for small islands that never had people to start with. Of course this means they’re either uninhabitable, or wildlife refuges. Go for the refuge, but watch out for the ranger if you do. It would totally suck to let down your guard only to find that some randomly infected/affected park ranger is roaming the island hoping for careless sailors. This is a good place to test the ‘zombie bait’ plan.
Once you find that “clean” island to live on, you’re golden. All you have to do is wait for all the zombies on the continents to die out and you can head back home. You might want to give some consideration to the animalistic mentality that will be prevalent among survivors and try to calculate how long it will take for civilization to re-establish itself. Give it at least one good growing season so you can trade your fish for some tasty zucchini.