Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Survival at Sea

A friend of mine mentioned that he would be doing some extended sailing in a catamaran of his own construction. He has done extensive voyages before and run into some problems. This time he is reading up on survival at sea before taking off. I offered to lend him some books from my own survival at sea library. I had them sitting on the shelf but never actually read them. So I decided it was time to read them.

I got this book at Ralph Freese's Chicagoland canoe base. The canoe whose journey is chronicled by this book was sitting out back of Ralph's shop. This isn't a shipwreck story. The author intentionally set out to cross the Atlantic with a canoe and outrigger. But his radio and navigation equipment quits on him and the adventure begins. The author runs short of food and water at some point but is in the shipping lanes and flags down ships who give him food and water. The sailors in the other books weren't as fortunate. They were not in the shipping lanes and got no outside assistance.

The raft is the story of three navy men in a 4 x 8 foot raft floating about for 43 days before they find land. This story takes place during WWII and their journey is complicated by the fact that they want to be picked up or find land, but the ship might be Japanese or the land, Japan occupied. In either case, these sailors fear for their lives.

A family sailing somewhere to the west of the Galapagos islands has their boat rammed by killer whales which put a hole in their boat and caused it to sink. After that, they drift about in a raft and dinghy. Later the raft sinks and all of them end up in the dinghy.

All three books are good reading and anybody who goes out on big water in kayaks will get something out of these books. The stories are scary but also instructive. Survival at sea is possible.

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