Ocean Survival Guide: What to Do When Adrift & Alone at Sea

Stranded & Adrift – Ocean Survival (photo by Tiago Fioreze)Knowing how to survive at sea if you find yourself alone and adrift in the middle of the ocean can literally save your life.

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.

Die

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.

how-to-fight-a-shark-for-food

Sharks are curious by nature. A few drops of blood will draw this shark in close enough to engage. Remember, aim for the nose and fight like a man. (jennywillhite24, photobucket)

Article Sources:

Moby Dick – by Herman Melville

Castaway – Starring Tom Hanks

  22 comments for “Ocean Survival Guide: What to Do When Adrift & Alone at Sea

  1. dave
    December 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    drinking sea water is the worst thing you can do (and you suggest drinking it!) tho obviously im hoping this enjtire write up is a sarcastic joke.

  2. Kevin
    May 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER, because of osmosis thru the intestinal membranes in your body drinking seawater will actually pull the good fluids from your body and put them into waste causing you to dehydrate even further. Only a fool would do this.

    • youtube.com/MC SnipeZ
      March 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

      hahha subscribe to me

  3. May 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Hmm… Maybe it would be better to kill the shark and then drink its blood? Or maybe you could milk the shark? Is it possible to milk a shark? That’s given me a new idea for an article. Thanks!

  4. SailorSam
    July 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Whoever wrote this is an idiot.
    1.) Never drink seawater
    2.) Don’t expend energy by moving around a lot. Moving around will freeze you to death even in the tropics.
    3.) Try NOT to attract sharks. Be quiet. Be clean.
    4.) Get out of the water if you can and stay out. Stay afloat using PFDs or anything containing a big bubble/bag of air.
    5.) Protect yourself from the elements (sun, wind, wetness), Wear as many clothes as you can. Stay still if you’re in the water. Thrashing around in the water washes away your body heat.
    6.) Don’t eat protein, or at all if you can. Eat carbs if you really need to eat.
    7.) Ration fresh water 5 to 7 ounces per day. Fresh water is most important after protection from elements.
    8.) Stay together.
    9.) Move away from anything (anybody) dead or rotting as it can attract sharks.

  5. July 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Hi SailorSam, thanks for the comment.

    I have watched all the “Jaws” films (including one in 3D), “Deep Blue Sea”, “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” and that film where the dude and his wife get left behind after diving, so I know what I’m talking about. But I guess experts such as ourselves will sometimes have different opinions.

    Have you ever milked a shark? I’m still trying to find out if it’s possible or not. Any ideas?

    Thanks again.

    • Troy
      December 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      Sharks don’t carry milk because they are not warm blood mammals. Female Mammals (like humans)only feed milk.

  6. Santiago Jackson
    May 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Actually there is one species of shark that can be milked, the Nurse Shark.

    • May 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks for that information, Santiago Jackson. In theory, therefore, you could attract a Nurse Shark and keep it hostage, giving yourself a constant supply of nutritious milk. You could also make cheese, upon which you could survive for many months, perhaps even years.

  7. bob
    September 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    This person is seriously the dumbest person I know

  8. reasonable person!
    January 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER!!!
    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER!!!
    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER!!!

    WHAT KIND OF FUCKED UP ADVICE IS THIS?!
    “drink sea water as much as possible”

    DO NOT USE THIS SURVIVAL GUIDE. YOU WILL DIE FASTER THEN A SPEEDING BULLET.

    SERIOUSLY, THE GUY WHO WROTE THIS IS AN IDIOT, OR HAS NO CLUE ABOUT LIFE WHATSOEVER!!!

    AGAIN:
    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER!!!
    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER!!!
    DO NOT DRINK SEA WATER!!!

    • March 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Just to make this clear, are you saying that people SHOULD or SHOULD NOT drink seawater?

  9. reasonable person!2
    January 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    PLEASE, IF THE MODERATOR IS READING THIS.

    REMOVE THIS GUIDE ASAP, BECAUSE IT’S A JOKE, AND SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED ON THIS SITE FOR GUIDANCE!!!

    ALL THE GUIDES LISTED ABOVE ARE THE OPPOSITES THAT YOU SHOULD DO IN AN EXTREME SITUATION LIKE THAT!!!

    PLEASE DELETE THIS GUIDE, IT’S THE WORST ON THE PLANET.
    THE TROLL WHO WROTE IT IS AN IDIOT.

    Thank You.

  10. Gene Yus.
    February 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Seems legit.

  11. C.S. Rico
    March 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I followed this advice when my sailboat sunk last summer in New Hampshire. I drank plenty of water and was eventually saved the following morning by a couple from Texas. This happened in a lake, not the ocean, but I don’t think that matters.

    • August 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Well it’s good to hear that the advice worked and that you are alive and well! There’s really no difference between fresh water lakes and the ocean, except the ocean is normally bigger. Keep on sailing!

  12. J
    April 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    This has to be the best advice ever! It actually worked. I was out in the ocean on my canoe and before I knew it was miles out! So i drank the sea water, didn’t taste very nice but it kept my fluids up which was vital considering I got diareha after biting into a whale without cooking it or even killing it. Something like gollum. Soon after a great white shark came and i beat it up n ate its fin and before you know it i was well again. I wasn’t rescued im still stranded probably somewhere off America by now (im from UK) but hey im surviving and enjoying it. Thanks again for the advice, im planning on catching lobster tonight im going use my member as bait. :-)

    • August 6, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Good luck J! I hope it all works out well and you make it home alive and not dead.

  13. Charles
    May 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    This is the most epic survival guide I’ve ever read. I think it’s popostourpus anyone saying it should be deleted!
    Please keep educating the world!!!

    • August 6, 2013 at 9:47 am

      That’s what we’re here for Charles. Thanks!

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