Survival On The Sea: What To Do In Case Things Go Wrong

Survival on the sea

While ocean travel is massively superseded by the decreasing cost of air travel over the years, there is certain still a type of charm about traveling by boat. As long as you don't easily get seasick, that is. Cruise liners are seen as more of a diversion in of themselves as opposed to the ocean liners of yesteryear, which were seen as a legitimate form of mass transportation.

Even though long distance passenger ships are slowly in decline, there are still many ships which roam the world’s oceans, and you may still book passage on one if that is your preference. One of the more disconcerting thoughts when traveling across oceans by ship is what could happen should the worst occur.

We have all heard stories of shipwrecks and stranded survivors living for weeks or even months among the waves.

Old shipwreck.

This article will serve to inform you about survival on the sea through two separate methods. First, we will recount some tales of survival on the sea which have grown more and more famous over the years.

If you are wondering how to survive at sea, there are few better learning methods than to examine what actual survivors had recounted doing when they were in such situations. Human beings are capable of incredible feats, and survival on the sea is one of the most impressive of them all.

After recounting a few stories from survivors, we will summarize some of the most crucial pieces of advice so you can survive at sea should you ever find yourself in such a situation. While ships are certainly a safe form of transportation, it always helps to be prepared for every eventuality.

The main piece of advice to take from these stories is that there is only one thing you can do when you are stranded at sea: survive.

Castaway Stories

Longest Tale Of Survival On The Sea In History

If you are wondering about the absolute maximum amount of time you would have in an ocean survival situation, you need but look at the example of Captain Oguri Jukichi and his crew.

Captain Oguri and several crew members survived their ordeal and were rescued after being adrift for almost a year and a half.

Survival on the sea.

They credited their survival to a large amount of food that they kept with them even after their ship was lost to the sea. This tale of dramatic ocean survival dates back to the early 19th century, around 1815, to be exact.

Raft Survival For 76 Days

Steven Callahan, the author of Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea, is one of the more famous personalities to have survived the open ocean for a long period. Callahan was an executive consultant for the film The Life of Pi, due to his life experience with being stranded on a small raft in the ocean for a long period.

Steven Callahan

Callahan has stated that the most important reasons behind his survival knew how to catch fish to be able to eat, and the rigging of solar stills to collect drinking water. He has stated that once food and water have been dealt with, your primary worry while being stranded at sea is trying to speed up the process of your rescue.

Tips For Survival On The Sea

If Your Ship Is Sinking, Get Emergency Supplies

One of the most important pieces of advice for how to survive on the sea is about what you should do in the first few moments after you know something has gone wrong. Those first few moments are crucial and may have an impact on whether you get rescued in a few days or a few months.

On your way to the lifeboats, make sure that you take any emergency supplies you see. While life rafts will indeed contain supplies, they may often not last long enough.

These supplies include more than just food and drinking water; they also include certain tools which will facilitate your rescues, such as flares, GPS trackers, and many other implements to help ensure a timely rescue.

Tools such as these are the reason why stories about castaways are becoming less and less common over time.

The more flares or tracking devices which you have, the higher your chances of being rescued or at least spotted by a passing ship or airplane.

Sea survival gear is incredibly important, and its life-saving usefulness cannot be overstated.

Bag with emergency supplies

Always ensure you know where the emergency equipment is when you board a ship.

Ensure You Have Food And Water

The number one most important piece of advice to make sure that you will make it through your ordeal is to make sure that you have methods of procuring food and water. The cruel irony of being stranded at sea is that water surrounds you, and none of it is drinkable.

Salt water will make you sick if you attempt to drink it and it will only further dehydrate you, so an important step is setting up a solar still to condense drinkable water.

Setting up a solar still to condense drinkable water

Once your solar still has been created, you must devise a way to catch fish. If you believe you can make a fishing rod out of your emergency supplies, this could be a good option. Far more likely is the eventuality that you will have to create a makeshift spear with which you will have to spear fish. You will also have to stomach eating the fish raw as you will have no way to cook them.


Ensuring survival at sea is simply a matter of understanding all of the methods which will improve your chances. There are many skills which will come in crucial, but Prime amongst them is the knowledge of how to provide yourself while adrift at sea, the rest is a matter of remaining occupied and waiting for rescue.

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