Whether you are adrift in a small boat or clinging to a makeshift raft, there are a number of things that you can do to improve the situation.
It is easy to lose hope quickly, but don’t lose hope too soon– the sea provides for the stranded sailor.
Drink Water to Survive at Sea
Unlike in desert survival situations where water is non-existent, the stranded sailor has access to limitless water. Keeping well hydrated is vital for survival. Sea water is salty and therefore not very palatable, but you should force yourself to drink as much as possible. Aim to drink one liter every hour.
Eat for Ocean Survival
Food may seem scarce, but below you swim millions of creatures waiting to be caught and eaten. You will probably find yourself without a net or line with which to catch fish. That’s OK; there are other ways to lure a potential meal. Sharks are attracted by the smell of blood in the water. Simply make a small cut somewhere on your body (avoiding main arteries) and let the blood flow into the water. You will have to get into the water to fight the shark when it arrives. Sharks attack quickly, so be ready.
In an interview with the BBC, shark specialist George Burgess gives some excellent advice: “Fight like a man. If you can, get your hands into the gill openings on the side of the shark which are very sensitive.” Any punches that you throw should be aimed at the shark’s nose. Once you have killed or incapacitated the shark, simply dry the meat in the sun before eating.
Shout & Wave
No matter how much food and water you have, the desolate isolation of your situation will force you to find salvation. Shouting and waving is an almost completely futile gesture when adrift in the middle of the ocean. However, what else can you do? You might as well do something.
Pray for Survival at Sea
Praying can be a great comfort in times of need. When you start to believe that your situation is hopeless, you should pray to the god or gods of your choice. It is incredibly unlikely that they will save you; many people don’t even think they exist. However, any small comfort will help you to die like a man.
If you really are right in the very middle of the ocean then you will probably die. Accept the fact that you will never see your family or friends again. You could try writing a note if you have a pen and paper. Tell people that you love them (even if you don’t) and make any last minute changes to your last will and testament.
Moby Dick – by Herman Melville
Castaway – Starring Tom Hanks