Survial Caches

Posted by: hikermor

Survial Caches - 12/11/19 05:22 PM

I am questing for something thaat may not exist:

1)A sturdy weatherproof box, ten cubic feet or more in capacity, that will hold survival supplies (water, food, FAK, commo items) for long term storage
2)When opened, would automatically signal the event to responsible agencies, who could then investigate the incident.

Several of these would potentially be placed at various locations on Santa Rosa Island, California (one of the islands within Channel Islands National Park). I have worked for the NPS within the park for many years, beginning in 1982, doing both archaeological and paleontological field work. Originally a working cattle ranch with fairly easy vehicle access across the island, the island is now a proposed wilderness area, with a steadily shrinking road network. This is good overall for park values, but it creates challenges for researchers and park managers.

One change is to approach areas of interest from the sea and land on the beach, an often tricky operation with its own set of problems, many of which could leave a party stranded inadvertently on the island.

Hence the thought about prepositioned survival caches. These would be potentially useful for many others as well, like shipwrecked sailors, etc. Automatic notification seems desirable, because there is a decent chance that a survival cache will be vandalized or used inappropriately. Hence, automatic notification.

Your imput is greatly appreciated.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Survial Caches - 12/11/19 06:06 PM

A steel job site tool box is about the right size — you might be able to rig an automatic radio alert upon opening one. They’d need regular maintenance.
Posted by: teacher

Re: Survial Caches - 12/11/19 07:36 PM

Are the islands covered by local cell service?
Posted by: roberttheiii

Re: Survial Caches - 12/11/19 08:09 PM

It would be fairly easy to rig a EPIRB to go off when a weather proof box is opened. You'd just modify the system that sets it off when the ship sinks and it floats away. The steel job site variety previously mentioned are fairly water tight.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Survial Caches - 12/11/19 08:28 PM

Cell service is at best spotty, and realistically, non-existent. On Santa Rosa Island, there are plenty of places where the park's radio net doesn't work. You are not able to trigger a repeater...

You are also dealing with variables like sea conditions and visibility (fog) which can change very quickly. Just because you can talk to the mainland doesn't mean you can reach the mainland.

Thereis an airstrip an dock on the developed portion of the island, but you can easily be a long day's walk (19-20 miles) distant.

If you are on the distant portions of the island, you need to have plans in case you have to spend the night out. This is one of the things that make working on the islnds so intriguing - you are close to civilizaation, yet very distant.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Survial Caches - 12/11/19 08:30 PM

What is the nature of the mod? Sounds interesting.
Posted by: haertig

Re: Survial Caches - 12/12/19 03:33 PM

If the island is so dangerous that you need to provide survival caches for people, why not implement a permit system? Nobody is allowed to go there without an advance permit that details their plans, and informs them about resources on the island. For survival caches to work, you'd need to pre-inform people about their existence and locations in the first place. So just replace that pre-inform step with a permit system.

For people who would ignore the permit system, then they would be on their own, as they should be.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Survial Caches - 12/12/19 04:36 PM

For "normal" visitors, there is an already existing permit system, much as you describe, and ti has been working rather well. The people who venture into the far reaches of Santa Rosa Island are well informed and equipped.

My concerns are more immediate- my own body and those of colleagues. With the demise and decay of the rod system, the more practical alternative to accessing the regions of interest is beach landing via skiffs, often on the far end of the island, easily at least a good day's hike (18 miles) from the developed area.

Dealing with skiffs in the surf, you want to be nimble, quick, and lightly loaded. Part of your load is necessary gear to record and deal with the material you encounter - not a whole lot left over for dealing with emergencies. Emergencies, while not routine, do occur from time to time, altering the plans of staff working remotely. Historically, shipwrecked boat crews have wound up on the beach.

Sometime in the 1940's,a group of poachers flew to the island, landed, shot their elk, and then found they couldn't take off, having to walk a considerable distance to the ranch and ask for assistance. They got off the island, but their plane remains where they landed. they were treate generously, if you ask me.

Prospecting for paleontological material will be continuing operation, long after I am inactive. Workers stuck on the island will need water, food, and some sort of shelter. While the climate is mild, high winds are routine, and hypothermia is possible. A decent survival stash could be very handy.

I am trying to plan for the eventually inevitable mishap and have necessary items available.

Thank you very much for your comments. I have enjoyed working in the park (it is quite a remarkable place), but accidents do happen...

Posted by: DaveL

Re: Survial Caches - 12/12/19 05:25 PM

Sounds like a steel shipping container, would work. Shelter and storage in one unit ,could be dug in to a hill side or sand dune .MTC
Posted by: haertig

Re: Survial Caches - 12/12/19 07:29 PM

If this cache is for your workers, then do you need to have it accessible by the general public? Lock it up tighter than a drum in heavy duty containers with hard-core locks that only your workers have keys for. Inside that container keep a maritime radio, a reasonable portable antenna, and solar recharging gear for the battery. All inside a convenient day pack. Include instructions on radio use if your workers are not familiar with that. Also, a map to the top of the nearest high hill if the route to the top is difficult. Sure, you'd have to be able to hike to the top of the hill to use the radio effectively, and you might have to wait a day while dead batteries recharge via the solar, but from up high I'd think you could probably get the 20-30 miles (???) to the mainland or to a passing ship. You might not have a long transmit time with weak/discharged batteries, but you could hopefully at least get an SOS out before they died again after a partial solar recharge.
Posted by: Ren

Re: Survial Caches - 12/12/19 08:33 PM

Don't some safes have alerting features?

Ah posted before read complete post.

One thing saw recently though on a Glasgow high street, is a secure cabinet holding a defibrillator, and a phone handset. Have to make a call on the handset get the code to retrieve the defibrillator.
Though requires certain amount of infrastructure.

Posted by: hikermor

Re: Survial Caches - 12/12/19 09:26 PM

Good question, but would you equip a cache and designate it only for certain people, rather than anyone who might be in distress?

The point of some kind of automatic notification is to notify HQ that the cache is being used and some sort of response should be generated, either a rescue or crime scene investigation. Appropriate signs are required obviously.

For that matter, the contents should not be very appealing -MRE's with flameless heaters, tarps, wool blankets, jugs of water, FAK.

I would equip the landing party with an appropriate radio, securely packaged, and a sat phone, likewise packaged (separately). Everyone would have an island map and probably their own cell phone, etc.

In my experience, you begin to get radio coverage once you are about 500 feet high, improving as you ascend. The radios carried include marine channel 16 (emergency and distress) as well as the park freqs.

Solar charging capability is a great idea. Maybe some sort of power bank?

Thiskind of operation, surf landings in the back country will probably be quite common in the future, Doing the ruotine enough times, and there are bound to be incidents and problems.
Posted by: nursemike

Re: Survial Caches - 12/13/19 05:23 PM

Perhaps a survival cache is not the optimal approach. Perhaps we should be thinking outside the box.

See what I did there?

The Brits use bothy shelters, NY state uses adirondack lean-to's to provide shelter in wilderness areas. You could add a well or a cache of water and have a relatively high profile, low maintenance solution.
Survival caches come with their own set of limitations-inventory maintenance, rotation of stock, and pilferage. Nothing more attractive than a hidden, sealed box of gear.

...or so I am told.
Posted by: clearwater

Re: Survial Caches - 12/13/19 07:28 PM

Probably against the law.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Survial Caches - 12/13/19 11:34 PM

That pretty much sums up everything wicked and evil about humanity. mad
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Survial Caches - 12/14/19 02:52 PM

Not against the law. The Channel islands are not on the southern border. That doesn't mean that smuggling has not occurred there...

The mind boggles at the inhumanity of someone who would deliberately destroy a water cache in the desert. I have spent some time in the Cabeza Prieta, along the aptly named Camino del Diablo, and in the wrong season,it is very rough country, indeed.
Posted by: haertig

Re: Survial Caches - 12/14/19 07:29 PM

Originally Posted By: hikermor
The mind boggles at the inhumanity of someone who would deliberately destroy a water cache in the desert.

I can see it, if the primary purpose of the cache is to support/promote illegal or harmful activity. It's a matter of purpose. An analogy: I would not support cutting off a food bank that feeds the hungry, but I would support cutting off the supply lines of your adversary in a war.
Posted by: DaveL

Re: Survial Caches - 12/14/19 10:08 PM

Plus 1 haertig
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Survial Caches - 12/14/19 10:57 PM

Let’s stay on the original topic and off the one with regard to the prosecution. It doesn’t seem relevant here.