From Tom Hanks’ performance in Castaway to real-life stories of shipwrecked crews in treacherous waters, tales of hardship and survival surrounding the sea have long dominated seafaring communities. Even in modern times, shipwrecks have dominated news cycles. From ghost ships floating in waters south of Australia with crews presumed lost to fishing trawlers sinking off the coast of Mexico with only a single survivor spending months on the ocean prior to being rescued, they are still a real event.
What we can learn from past survivors as well as both modern and old records can help us devise a survival plan in case we do find ourselves stranded on the ocean. If you are able to make an orderly escape from a sinking ship or other marine catastrophe then you should have been able to alert authorities to your predicament, and equipped yourself with a distress beacon and a life raft capable of keeping you safe until help arrives. But what happens if disaster strikes and you are unable to do this?
One of the major sticking points revolves around staying dry, as hypothermia can quickly set in even in tropical climates and sap you of energy. If you are able to procure yourself a raft, wreckage or other debris able to hoist you out of the water then you are increasing your own chances of survival. This particular point has the double advantage of helping you conserve your strength by removing you from a situation where you would have to continually exert yourself to stay afloat.
Your next priority would involve food and water supply. If you were able to escape a wreck in a lifeboat, these will often come with rations with specific instructions as to rationing. Otherwise, being able to fashion any type of tool that will help you catch food will come in handy. Any receptacle that you can find will help you catch rainwater, which will be far your most precious commodity. It should be stressed that drinking seawater is one of the worst things you can do, as it will lead to further dehydration and eventually death.
Once you have sorted the above issues, finding terra firma should become your biggest priority. Apart from providing you with more shelter options, food and water sources thereby increasing your chances of survival, the odds of finding help skyrocket. As always, it is important to check safety regulations and ensure that any craft you are undertaking a voyage on is within safety regulations, and you are familiar with emergency procedures. After all, the best person to help you with your survival is you yourself.
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