Survival at Sea

Conditions of survival at sea are perhaps worse than those of any other environment and make for some of the most demanding of situations. Planes and boats carry survival equipment, but even getting into a dinghy in a heavy sea can be difficult.

Once emergency supplies of food and water run out, sources are not reliable – so any possibility of obtaining food from the sea and collecting drinking water must be exploited to conserve supplies as long as possible.

Not all fish is edible and some are even dangerous to handle. Shark dangers are often exaggerated, but should not be ignored. Appropriate action is needed to avoid or deter them. A difficult coast can make even a final landfall hazardous, so heed the advice on lessening the risks.

Four-fifths of the Earth’s surface is open water – probably the most frightening of all environments, and the most difficult in which to survive. In cold water the body soon becomes chilled and even in a boat wind can chill the body rapidly. Alone in cold water your chances are not good without equipment.

If you know your location and the main ocean currents you may be able to predict where they will carry you, though it will be very slowly. Warm currents, such as the Gulf Stream, across the North Atlantic, are rich in fish and sea creatures.

Coastal waters are also often rich in sea foods – but there are dangerous species, such as sharks, and poisonous species, mainly living in shallower water near lagoons and reefs in warmer climates. Fresh water is a bigger problem if you have no means of distilling sea water.