Shacks, Shelters And Shipping Containers- C5 Survival Advice From The Caribbean- Epsisode I

paint 2

With your host, Category5, and by reader request, special guest, MrsC5.

(What a wild ride I have planned for you today. Long Read. Lots of photos. Theology, uninvited sexual comments and a whole lot more. For your compulsive, coming backyness you will now be rewarded. You may want to pour yourself a BIG alcoholic beverage of your choosing for this one and get comfortable. Don’t just peruse the pretty pictures. An alternative title for this post would be, Mini Home Addendum. ” a thing to be added; an addition.”)

A few of you oldsters out there will notice I am mildly plagiarizing the title from the classic book, Shacks Shelters and Shanties. This book would deeply influence the person I became. I first took it out of the library somewhere around age 8 and I kept renewing it. I’m sure my parents thought I was becoming all Boy Scouty. Not so. It was the beginning of an escape plan. I was already deciding at this early age that I did not want what modern Industrial Society was pushing. I did not want to be chattel. This book started my rejection of North Amerikan housing arrangements. And began the acknowledgement that other housing possibilities  were available. It was immature prepping but I was a preteen after all. The path of my life was set. Escape the suicide, death machine.

Lucky for you, its here as a free PDF-

The reason for me starting my Caribbean education here, is not entirely altruistic. It is from the combination of the storms happening while getting here and that next summers big job for me will be to put up a simple shipping container home as quickly and cheaply as possible. I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Well, at least I got my mind on shipping containers. The other part is just following my instincts. What my subconscious is focusing on in a new place. There is a disproportionate number of shipping containers here. I now understand that it is because there is a huge trade imbalance happening here. This is a problem. The sticker shock of food here means we are eating the cheapest food. Luckily MrsC5 and myself are already trained in how to hunt for the lowest cost food. See my survival advice for the poor series.

Independently, MrsC5 had been coming to similar conclusions about the nature of these storms and was giving the green light to divest some of our retirement money into sturdy infrastructure. Our leaky, near useless barn has also got to come down because it is a danger to the main house if it is blown over onto it. We will replace it with a few more shipping containers and down size for the sake of sturdiness.

We already own one shipping container. More importantly, we have had a few years to get used to it. We have observed what it can and cant do. We have made some slight mistakes and had plenty of time to just stare at it, figuring out its pros and its cons. The learning curve. Now we are ready for the next steps.

container home

But we cant start here.

Mrs C5 Joins us for her thoughts and photos on Bajan Chattel Houses.

Hello. MrsC5 here.

I present to you a series of mainly wooden chattel houses. I had never heard the word chattel before and had to know what this was all about.

From, “The Chattel House was originally the design of the plantation workers home. They were modest wooden buildings set on blocks so that they could be easily moved from one leaseholding to another. In early settlement days, home owners were not necessarily landowners, but part of a tenantry system of the plantations. The houses were constructed to be transportable in the event of landlord and tenant disputes. The name chattel referred to the fact that they were movable property.

The following pics are presented in the sequence that I encounter them on my walk. I live in the UNESCO designated heritage site, the Garrison Historic Area:

chattel 1

chattel 2

chattel 3

The steep gable roof, constructed of corrugated iron, were adapted to suit the climate of heavy rains and winds. The angle of the roof deflects the wind rather than providing a platform for it to lift off. The fretwork around the windows and openings were placed there to provide shade and to act as a filter against the rain. Over the years fretwork has became an attractive architectural feature in its own right.”

The other key piece of information is that there would have been originally one small house.  As the family expanded, additions were built onto the backside and so you can often see two or three deep ‘mini’ homes which were in effect additional rooms.  I have yet to see 4 deep but I’m sure they exist.  I am wondering if this took place post-plantation times. Hmm… more research to be done.

In more modern times, the wooden structures have been replaced in adobe or cement with brick, and 2nd floors have been added, usually as funds become available in the family.

chattel 4

chattel 5

Some of you may be wondering where are the ‘nicer’ homes. Well I am far more intrigued by, and drawn to, the more original looking homes, house styles I have not seen before.

Thank you, MrsC5.

One last addition I want to throw in. The concept I want to put emphasize  on before continuing is that it is MODULAR. Its more than a mini home. It grows as you do or as your finances allow. Think of it as Mythos and Logos ever growing mini house without the need for debt financing.

big chattle

I, on the other hand, am very familiar with the word “Chattel”, as in, most of us have become chattel, as in, movable property, as in, state and corporate movable property. No disrespect to those who’s ancestors were were made chattel buy abduction and the whip, still chattel today by economic segregation and corrupt use of the legal and penal system. We became chattel by economic conditions and our reliance on Jobs and financial institutions, enslaved by the Faustian promise of a guilded cage. If we worked hard for our lease lords, for our entire lives and back stabbed our way through the the other chattel, up to middle management, perhaps we would own a paid for home home that we could die in. Most people don’t even question this arrangement because it is all they have ever known. If you don’t submit to your masters, homelessness, mental illness, emotional pain control addictions, and loss of legal standing awaits. In only one or two generations, we have lost all the skillsets necessary to survive without “A Job”.

This has been cemented into our culture and heavily stylized by the Righty Whity Wing, slave religion to the hate chant of, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”. In non Morlock speak, that translates to, “If you don’t have a ‘JOB’, please die quickly of starvation or submit to the whip”. What a Sick, Twisted and all round Evil, Spin Doctoring of that particular scripture. Once again, let me properly translate that scripture into non Morlock. “If you do not plant and sew and reap, you do not eat”. It is agricultural in nature. So, start growing food, Bitches.  And the context of that scripture is that, christians at the time were living communally, by survival necessity during a period of persecution by religious conservatives and were highly unemployable.  They were sharing their property and resources voluntarily as an act of faith.  I am intentionally leaving out Hobby Hunting as ‘work’ since Righty Whity destroyed that option to bring the brown pagans to The Lord and the Whip by starvation. Hobby Hunting cannot feed more than a few and for a short period till the animals are gone. We have already covered that subject in excruciating detail. I also left out the Disciples work of “Fishing” because of the resource over extraction “JOBS”. I have had scuba goggles on while here and I can confirm that the coral reefs are officially fucked. The ocean of fish wont be coming back any time soon. The combination of “Jobs” pollution, “Jobs” carbon absorption turning sea water acidic to the bottom of the food chain and “Jobs” fishing nets scraping the coral bottom so the remaining fish have nowhere to repopulate.

71% of the earths surface is now close to DONE. Good “Job”.

Eu-we!!!  I am getting those prophetic tingles on the back of my neck again.

The Righty Whity Religious will cry out to the Heavens, “Save us O Lord. Rapture us for our Holiness. Put rocks above our heads that we may hide in caves against your wrath”. And God will pull a Rorschach moment,  and whisper…. “No!”

Well, lets get back to our regularly scheduled, non religious Heebie Jeebies, programing.

Of course, all of that is very 2007 of them. They must be having moral contradiction conniptions since 2008 made them lose their jobs and their rather large houses, McMansions, or not, subprime or not.

Now, The Children Of The Damned, the millennials, after watching their parents credit meltdown, suddenly took a huge interest in Mini Homes and Market Gardening. Whether they have the skills or motivation to accomplish this is yet to be seen. They were heeding the call of Repentance. Repent. A military word that means, Turn around and go the complete opposite direction. They unknowingly started embracing what is basically a chattel house instead of running from it. Mini Home= Chattel house. Small, movable property.

mobile(at first, I thought they were rebuilding a mini home bases on the chattel house style. On closer inspection, I realized they were rebuilding a mobile bar. The walls fold down into a floor. Two days later I found it open for a closer inspection)open

My thoughts on the mobile mini home movement AND the shipping container home movement, is that they are over thinking it. That is why “MINI” homes are Starting at 20 thousand $$$, sort of defeating the purpose. Aint that ol’ Devil a trickster.

They are trying to cram all the shiny privilege of the 1950s into a smaller package instead of doing a fundamental life change.

The reason I wanted to start this by showing you chattel houses was because of this.

chattle job 1

Notice any similarities?

chattel job 2

Why, Looky there. A shipping container. That is what this post is really about.

chattel job 3

There is a world of wisdom in this one building alone. That is why I walked for several hours to get these 3 shots to you. There are several survival lessons I want to teach you in this one photo alone.

But where to start. I haven’t seen any shipping container homes in Barbados but I see alot of what I am calling Chattel Businesses. A business that can be put in quickly and cheaply, can be added to if it works or moved if a problem occurs. I am going to show you several, just so you and I can think about POSSIBILITIES. Things I haven’t considered yet.

The next is that it is a STURDY structure that is already Squared. For folks like me with no construction experience ( well, plenty of adaptive construction experience but none of, doing it “right”) it is a perfect structure to build off off. A building blank. My concept for the quick build, container home I have to build next summer looks very similar to this. Oh, good. Its not just me. We start with the container and as time allows, a second structure is attached to it. The container is the core strength. You can see that on the small tractor barn I added to our farm container, a few photos back.

Speaking of strength, since my purpose in using this structure is to handle super storms, hurricanes, micro burst, etc, (as well as fire storms and snow load) I decided to get all these photos for you. After a few days of thinking about it, I realized I had to invest a day of travel (and some heat stroke) for these next three, not very exiting shots. I wasnt doing it for fun

near miss 1

It was a very large tree that that got blown down, luckily just grazing the porch of the main house…but not quite lucky enough. Bam!

near miss 2

near miss 3

Luckily it hit, close to the corners. The structurally strongest part of the container.

The reason I went way out of my way to get this shot was a couple days of contemplating that if a family was sleeping in here they would have been saved.

And this is a really good time to talk about myths and misunderstandings about the strengths if shipping containers. Their was a stupid episode in Doomsday Preppers (like they weren’t all stupid…on purpose) where someone alluded that a container might be bullet proof. They shot a corner with a 22. The thickest metal. Well, the rest of it is actually pretty thin metal. It is simply corrugated or wavy and this provides up and down strength. A 22 will go though that. It might stop birdshot.  That is about it.

The next thing people will be thinking is, “why don’t you just bury it if these storms are as bad as you say?”

DO NOT bury a shipping container!

This has pretty much already been proven a bad idea by the prepper establishment…yet it remains a temptation for many and the first thought for newbies. So this is me, jumping up and down and waving my arms wildly, yelling,…


I fully get this because I buried a cube van once as a cold storage. It is the biggest, most embarrassing, and expensive FAIL I have done at the Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Centre. It mocks me to this day because it is a danger for someone to fall into and I have to spend even more money to hire a backhoe to finish crushing it in and and filling it in with dirt. What a mess and a waist of a perfectly solid aluminum structure. Aluminum for christs sake. I will never live it down. It could have been a forever building and perfect chicken barn. I really could have used that building. There is little more valuable to survival than dry storage.

It was crushed in from the SIDES, like a beer can in a vice. From this I learned a concept that dirt is really water. It flows. It moves. That is because it is full of water, permanently or occasionally. Like Paddle To The Sea, It had a destination. Soil nutrients move this way as well but that is another subject. Same goes with pollution and nitrate runoff.

To deal with this crushing action, some people decide to put cement walls around the container. Seems smart. Doesn’t it? Now, I cant be the only person to see this, can I? If you are going to be building a concrete structure anyhow, Why waist a perfectly good shipping container by putting it inside of that building?

Now, something like this is concrete Tube home  far more likely to survive the pressure     and I have been giving consideration to something like this as a cold storage, still above ground but mounded with dirt. Anything underground will will just fill with water.

Anyone who has dug a hole knows this so they might be thinking a shipping container is water proof. Well, it is…for a while.

rust 1rust 2(Even the really thick metal. You also see this in the small building in the first set of three photos above)

Metal only lasts if water and oxygen are kept out.

C5 Rule of Survival- All of civilization is held together by a thin layer of paint.

Any metal thing we own has a short life the moment a chip in the paint lets nature in. You have heard it said, Rust never sleeps.

I love rust. It is the finger paint of God painting over mans vanity, stripping it away, reminding us that all our works are temporary and meaningless (Ecclesiastes) and striving to hold the wind.
When I am feeling less religious…I Paint Everything to keep God the fuck out of my business as long as possible. Damned do gooder.

On my own sea can, I plan on Tar sealing the roof. A weeks spot that can accumulate water and the molds or bacteria that dig into paint to break it down. Then more tar on the bottom beam, plus a couple inches up because there is a small ledge there where water and bacteria can accumulate.edge Everything else gets painted and re painted until paint is no more. Then it gets oiled instead. Good news about the tar. At some point, it can be melted down again and re applied.

Another way to keep water off is a roof. I don’t plan on doing this to mine, for the storm survivability part. Nothing to catch wind and blow off….

But it is worth considering for educational purposes. I like alot of what I see down here.

beach container 1These are cute. Faux bamboo hut.

Well, Cute from afar. Lets call this one the Playboy Beach Bimbo can. I’m starting a theme here. Stick with me.

This is the Bunny can. It sells a desirable fantasy… but once you get closer, Its all air brushed, heavily makeuped and hair sprayed…with implants. On closer inspection…its just Pamela Anderson… past her sell by date. Like an over bread poodle, rather annoying and you would notice the inbreeding if not distracted by the bouncing implants.

The palm fronds are only ornamental covering the metal roof. This brings up an important subject though. A Sea Can is just a big solar cooker. It gets hot hot hot inside. Metal is conductive. The roof provides shade and airflow to take the roof heat away. Conversely, in cold climates, you cant keep heat in it without isolation. To add insult to injury, condensation will be collected on the walls, leading to the potential of mold. A properly secured roof does have its place because insulation can go on the roof, leaving all of your head room and a ceiling that is easy to clean. Framing, Insulating and Siding on the outside of the container is also an option. This would further protect the can itself…. but might blow off in 200kph winds. I, personally am getting around the condensation issue by simply spray foaming it with a close celled foam. No lumber frame needed. I’m hoping it comes out looking like Faux cob, once painted with fire proof paint. That and a woodstove to provide dry heat. Propane heat is notoriously bad for adding moisture into the air, causing molds and wood rot in RVs.

It should have been obvious that a Sea Can is also air proof. You could suffocate if locked inside. I learned this first hand by putting a wood stove  in my container. Smoke was backing up into the can. I eventually figured out there was no air draw into the stove so convection wasn’t pulling all the smoke up the chimney. I need to add some ventilation and an air intake near the stove. We learn by doing.

The next question would be, how can a person secure a roof, solid enough that it doesn’t blow off. Here is the good news. Its metal so you can weld on attachments. This would make it way stronger than a nailed on roof.

roof downattached

The caution would be that this welding creates a rust entry point into the can. Paint or tar well.

I mentioned I had met a person that went through the Hurricanes in Dominica.  If there is meaning to the flow of events in life (I’m on the fence about that, leaning towards no…but I have all these synchronicity events in my life that make me go, “Hum”) then the most valuable reason for me coming south, if only for a short period, was to meet her. I walked into the conversation as she was discussing that she would be adding a bunker when she rebuilds her house. She intends to rebuild into something more hurricane resistant. I mentioned my shipping container idea…and got hit with a bit of bad news.

She recalled shipping containers from the ports being blown out into the streets and people being amazed by this. That is what 250kph winds will do. And here I was only worrying about it potentially being blown over. With this new information, my new plan will be to create concrete anchors in the ground and use cables to secure it to the earth, hopefully avoiding this

Either way, I have decided to put windows on the ends of the container. That way, if the can is blown onto its side, on the door, I can still escape through that window.

of course, one of the ways to avoid it being blown over, is to go modular upgrade and add a second container. This is more of a house shape people are used to anyhow. I really like this one because it is unpretentious.

2 strong Its not a Better Homes and Gardens, design project or yuppy container home. It has a door. It has windows. Good enough. Fresh paint, a couple flower planters and its homey. Use the metal you cut out for windows and turn them into stutters that can re-cover the windows and you ar back  to post apocalyptic chic. Its also one big canvas if you have an artistic friend. See the photo at the top of the page. Personally, I’d go darker. H.R.Geiger meets the Terminator. Mushroom clouds and Weird Tales style zombies….but their is no accounting for taste. I want uninvited visitors to be worried about their safety. But that’s just me.

fat assAnd just look at that fat ass. I’d tap that. I like a sturdy can. More of her to love. More to get a good grip on. Just Hold on and ride out that storm. As a bonus… She is much more accommodating.

cleans up well

She’d clean up well.

booty 1

Now, THAT is some serious BOOTY. As they say, “Any Port In A Storm”.

Especially at closing time. Oh, come on. Its happened to all of us. You wake up in the aftermath of the storm, and go, OMG. What have I done. But you will be back again, next storm… because now you know it is a proven shelter. DON’T JUDGE ME, MAN!

That is a serious structure….except for all those windows. Nice storefront though.

booty 2

Now this is how it is done right. Its designed to be attached this way. The container isn’t going anywhere unless they ALL go.

booty 3

This isnt a good shot but its the best I could get. Notice how the inside wall is cut out. Its about 5 ft  from the corner and it comes down about a foot from the ceiling. This will help keep the structural strength of the container. If you cut the entire wall out, you loose almost all of the strength.

closed can

I also like ’em feisty, petite and perky… like MrsC5

open can

Especially when she opens wide her tiny pink box . Buduptup.

I did chose this photo to teach something and not just for the opportunity to say, MrsC5 opens wide her tiny pink box, in a public environment. I am amazed she still feeds me.

No. I wanted to talk about my tool.

Get your minds out of the gutter. I’ll show it to you if you really want…but I am talking about my corded Dewalt Angle Grinder. It’s going to get alot of heavy use this year. That is one of the many reasons it is #4 on my list of Top 5 prepper purchases. It does the really tough jobs that there aren’t many other options of.

Now this isn’t on many survivalists list because it doesn’t fit into most peoples World Of Warcraft prepper fantasy world. No really. When I first started writing on prepping, I had an argument with a Tactical Tool Head. How could he spend so much money on weapons and totally ignore non bat shit crazy, practical tools that give you REAL Force Multiplication…like a quality corded power drill. That is the #3 item on the list, BTW. I have spent a rather large part of my life Actually Living the world most of these “prepper experts” are only prognosticating about. I was pointing out what real items Actually Get Used. For every actual bullet I have needed to shoot to actually kill something, I will have used the power drill Several Hundred Times. That should point out where it fits on the prepper priority list.

Then a World of Warcraft fantasy prepper chimed in saying, “What are you going to do. Swing it around your head by the cord to hit people with”. He really said that. And this is why I cant allow comments on my site. It drives me Koo Koo for CoCo puffs. It makes me want to go on a not so random Killing Spree to help improve the genetic IQ of the species.

Now, in World of Warcraft prepper thinking, it’s all about fighting and electricity will never come back again. As I have mentioned before, Survivalists are really bad at understanding TRANSITIONAL PHASES. In what Fantasy world will electricity stop working and never come back on again. Government studies have shown, even with the largest Coronal Mass Ejection, if these small motors were not plugged in at the time, they will work just fine. Even most cars will work though they may stall for a few moments. But lets face it, if you cant come up with one of the DOZENS of ways  to produce improvised electricity, you are not very far along on your Prepper path…and nowhere near, Adapter quality, no matter how many rounds you fire or military credentials you boast. I suppose for some, the moment their hair drier stops working they will jump strait to the stone age, cannibalism and killing their neighbors….but me, I got more productive things to do.

I’m swinging too far off topic. Back to MrsC5s Hot Pink Box.

Some people just aren’t as handy. Maybe their level of buildyness doesn’t go beyond a hand saw, a hammer and the ability to put some screws in. No judgement intended. I’m sure you are good at all sorts of other stuff that I am not. I suck at alot of things. An angle grinder can actually be quite dangerous, like a chainsaw can. A busted grinder wheel can go strait into your scull. I personally, have had to have a sliver of metal pulled out of my eye. I have been smacked in the face alot of times by flying wheel.

My point being, You can still build something like the front of the tight pink box photo above. As a bonus, it all locks up tight when you are not there. The only bad news is that if a storm comes, you will not be able to fully close one on the doors from the inside. You will have to design some way so it doesn’t blow open. Safety tip. Keep your locks in the locking swing arms so no one, accidentally or intentionally locks you in…to bake or suffocate to death.

Now, lets move on to this sexy Betty Page version. Yum. Very spankable.

complicatedOf course, I also like them exotic, complicated and with a penchant for costumes…that also brings me a beer and comes full of alcohol.

This photo above, actually gives me some ideas for an animal barn that opens up for ventilation in the summer and closes up for the winter and storms. Just put the openings higher to keep animals contained. Add cement for a floor and it would be easy to muck out. Spray foam the ceiling. I think I am going to do a version of this when we upgrade to goats.

bakeryAnd I also like them plain, no nonsense, hard working, trustworthy, and doors locked up tight  when I’m not around…always fresh

…but Always Fresh and Open Every Sunday.

Mmmmm. Fresh hot buns.

Yup. This is an Ice-T plunge Moment. DJ-C5 and Body Count loves everybody.

From the historic album that George Bush, himself tried to have banned and the song Charlton Heston had Apoplexy over.

What. Would you have preferred to hear, “To all the girls Ive loved before” by Willy Nelson? Not here at DGM SRC, you wont.

If you enjoyed this article or learned something new, please give a Tip by going to the top of the page and visiting ¨Giving Just The Tip¨. All Tips go towards building material costs for future Experiments, here at the Dark Green Mountain Survival RESEARCH Centre. Its for the Research part.

You wont find information presented like this on any other prepper boards.

I am the One And Only C5. The Wolfman of the Wasteland. The Ayatollah of Rock and Roll’a. Transmitting to you and around the world from the DGM and abroad.

A special shout out to my regular Australian Fans Sweltering under that  recent record heat wave. And to the Ice Fishermen of Nova Scotia, who when the polar vortex finally broke and temperatures rose to an unprecedented 17 Celsius, sent their Ice Shacks to the sea bottom to become navigational hazards. Hopefully you can fish them out in the spring. And it’s just getting started.

what doesn't kill you