SailNet Community - Reply to Topic
Thread: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

Click here to view the posting rules you are bound to when clicking the
'Submit Reply' button below

  Topic Review (Newest First)
10-28-2012 10:34 AM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

Awesome Med. Having some documented testing of this thing online will be awesome. Like I said, I'm really interested in it. I started a thread on it a while back looking for more info - - because beyond the marketing material, there's not a whole lot of real world use info.

It seems to be a great product.
10-27-2012 11:35 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
I just knew you were sportin' a pudgy, med.

How many do you think could fit in there in a survival situation. It's rated for 4 if I recall - but is sure looks tiny.

Still, I'd be much more inclined to get one of these for off-shore cruising than a dinghy AND a LR.
Two could fit quite comfortably. Since it's double walled it has a totally flat floor with a gentle slope up to the bow and the interior floor is 6' long if I recall. Technically speaking the USCG requirement for floor space for occupants is 3.6sqft. Not much. The pudgy has 16.1ft so that's 4.47 people. The average nuclear family has 3.2 kids so....

I remember reading somewhere that part of Steve Calahan's problem was that he had an 8 man raft for just himself. It sounded like a good idea as he would have more space but apparently the weight of the people are calculated into the capsize formulas of rafts. He capsized many times. As for the pudgy, it's supposed to use a sea anchor,(fabric rafts do a lot better with a sea anchor as well) and the boyancy of the canopy and it's inflatable arch combined with the weight of the hull makes it apparently self righting.

Back to your question. 2 would be very comfortable and both could sleep easily on the floor. Spooning anyone? Gotta stay warm. It's a survival thing. I expect that the max for life raft use would be 4 adults. One could lay out and sleep while the other three don't or perhaps 2 could sleep on the floor and 2 could sit on the seats if the weather sea state allows.

I plan to do some "Pudgy camping" sometime. It doesn't go to weather for crap (at least with me at the helm) so I'm going to put a bowsprit, jib, and larger leeboards on it this winter. Next summer, expect to see me sailing the puppy solo and spending a couple nights aboard. I'll also have the canopy inflated for that, so I may as well test it's self righting capabilities at that time. Stay tuned....

Lifeboat information for the Pudgy:
The Portland Pudgy is a proactive lifeboat, self-rescue boat. The inflatable canopy makes it safer than a standard inlatable life raft because it is a rigid, unsinkable boat.

10-27-2012 09:51 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

Callahan designed what he called "The Clam" as an alternative to the blow up life rafts that are so common.

This is the canopy for his boat

I think I remember him producing some Clams but the demand wasn't there. Somehow that instantly inflatable raft that surges forward and has a roof seems to be more appealing. Wait to be rescued rather than work to be rescued.
10-27-2012 09:13 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

I just knew you were sportin' a pudgy, med.

How many do you think could fit in there in a survival situation. It's rated for 4 if I recall - but is sure looks tiny.

Still, I'd be much more inclined to get one of these for off-shore cruising than a dinghy AND a LR.
10-27-2012 08:22 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
To the fabric raft comments:

There are life rafts that run in the mid $2,000 range for a 6-man raft. Switlik's version is over $7,000. Does that extra $5,000 translate into a better chance for survival, all other things being equal?

After Callahan's ordeal, he set about to design a lifeboat that sails. ..... Has anyone else seen this?
Yes, absolutely. For every $1,000 you spend you are approximately 10% safer. By the way, did I mention that I sell life rafts?

Calahan lamented something along the lines that if he could make only 1 knot to the good in a 150 degree arc he would be back on dry land in just over 2 weeks. If he could make 2 knots, home in a week. He wrecked only 450 miles offshore the west coast of Africa but had to drift to South America.

A sailing life BOAT instead of raft has the advantage of being able to be propelled. Towards land. Towards the shipping lanes. Toward the rain squall to gather rain. Towards the TICZ where the rains are. Towards more favorable currents. Towards the shipping lanes to help find a ship.And they allow you to sail to avoid being dashed on reefs or cliffs when you do reach land or to be able to more effectively meet up with that cargo ship that has found you. The rigid floor allows for better rest and less salt water sores, protection from sharks.... should I go on?

Also, fabric rafts are black boxes. You hope the guy who serviced your raft wasn't hungover. You DO get your raft serviced on schedule always right? What if that means sailing out of paradise just so you can get to a servicing agent?

The link below is to the TV show Survivorman. It's a one man show (no camera crew) where he goes out and survives in testing circumstances. At the 1:30 mark of the video he tries out a raft from a sailboat and it sinks immediately. Later he inflates another but it inflates upside down (50% chance of that). Finally, once in the raft, this tough dude is scared witless and ends the process early. He couldn't handle how uncomfortable and scary it was.

Survivorman Lost At Sea S1E9 part 1 - YouTube

Here is what I have. I've played with it quite a bit and like it pretty well as a tender and sailing dinghy and love the idea of it as a life boat. Also, since we use it daily, we are able to inspect it and we are always in practice with launching it.

Portland Pudgy safety dinghy, inflatable boat, or fiberglass dinghy?

Here she is, rigged for the first time:

Maiden Voyage:

Nope, no fancy inflatable fabric life raft in a magic box for me!

10-27-2012 07:05 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

That was a very good and extensive list of survival accounts. I have read all of them and get great inspiration from them. There is only one I can think of that you missed and that is the account of Terry-Jo Deperrault, (now Terre Fassbender) Who at 11 years old found herself adrift and alone on a small cork float in the carribean after her whole family was murdered and their yacht the "Bluebelle" was sunk. This happened in the early 60's . There is a new book out I believe about the account,believe it is titled "Alone"
10-27-2012 05:05 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

To the fabric raft comments:

There are life rafts that run in the mid $2,000 range for a 6-man raft. Switlik's version is over $7,000. Does that extra $5,000 translate into a better chance for survival, all other things being equal?

After Callahan's ordeal, he set about to design a lifeboat that sails. I looked into it and it seemed a pretty reasonable alternative to the air-filled life raft that leaves you a floating cork. Callahan presented it to marine safety companies but the idea just didn't take off. Has anyone else seen this?

When Robertson's life raft sunk after 17 days, they all transferred to the dinghy and survived for 20 days on that. They had used the dinghy to tow the raft, until it sunk, as they had jury-rigged a sail on it. Once in the dinghy, the salt water sores on their skin faded and in general it seemed they fared better. And the fear of piercing the fabric while fishing was gone.

Is the sailing lifeboat really the better option to survival at sea?
10-27-2012 02:13 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

I second Wreck of the Medusa (Raft of the Medusa is the name of the painting that hangs in the Louvre). Fascinating story.
10-27-2012 01:02 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

Life raft survival! Now you're talking my language! I love survival stories and as a child my favorite book was Hatchet by Gary Paulson. It's a teen book where a kid ends up in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a hatchet and has to improvise everything to survive. It's still a good read as an adult.

My interest in survival stories (read not survivalist) continues and since I'm into boating, the life raft stories are top of my reading list. Last year I saw a life raft story that I hadn't yet read and snatched it from the shelves.

For those so inclined here is a reading list. These are the ones I've read, and if anyone knows of others please post them here!

Survive the Savage Sea by Dogul Robertson:
This was the first book to be both a how-to manual as well as a riveting story of how they survive. Lots of the information is dated, but much is not. 4/5 stars. Their fabric raft eventually failed, putting all 6 survivors in their small open dinghy.

Adrift by Steve Calahan:
No book on the subject has yet matched his level of detail and honesty. While not a how-to it is filled with practical info, thoughts and drawings. Reading his book has drastically changed how I prepare for abandoning ship. Specifically I now no longer trust fabric rafts and put water procurement at the top of my list of necessities. Memorable quote regarding rubber rafts; "The sea is full of sharp and curious things."

117 Days Adrift by M & M Bailey:
The baileys are tied for the longest record of surviving while shipwrecked at sea in a raft. This book is a good example of how attitude is critical for survival. Mrs. Bailey's relentlessly positive attitude keeps them both alive. 4/5

The Voyage of the Heretique, by Alain Bombard:
Alain Bombard was a French physician that theorized that you could survive WITHOUT fresh water while adrift, for an indefinite period of time. He also recommended using ladies nylon stockings to collect infinite amounts of krill and zooplankton. He theorized that drinking specific amounts of salt water in a specific way could work. His theory was considered heretical and so he set about "proving" it by intentionally floating across the Atlantic in an open Zodiac, single-handed and only drinking seawater. He completed his voyage but not in the most scientific manner and his theory remains controversial. I haven't re-read it since attending the school of medicine, so I should really re-read it and see if his theory "holds water". 3/5

66 Days Adrift. By Bill Butler:
A recent book where a couple is wrecked in the south pacific and drifts back to South America. It reads like a daily log from the Husband's narrative and it's down right painful to read. The couple basically has a 66 day long domestic dispute. The wife is hot-headed and the husband is a jerk. What makes it worth reading is to contemplate the number of times they nearly kill themselves and yet still survive. More than once they're chest deep in water with the sinking fabric raft (see a pattern here?). I took away 2 things: 1. with a good quality hand reverse osmosis pump the story has very little of the desperation of Calahan's story. 2. There are many stories that never get to be written because people die in these rafts. Undoubtedly there have been people that have survived for 30-60 days and THEN scummed, but nobody will ever know their story.

Capsized: True Story of Four Men Adrift for 119 Days By James Nalepka and Steve Calahan.
This is a story of a catamaran that capsized off the coast of New Zealand and the men survive in the upturned boat. The boat eventually circles back to New Zealand but they feared they could be out there for decades in the circular ocean currents. They were actually doing quite a good job and could have survived much much longer, owing in no small part to their stable floating platform. The captain and crew didn't get along and if I recall this book is by a crew-member and may have been a rebuttal to a book written by the captain. I can't find the captain's account though.... 3/5

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales.
This book has already been mentioned in this thread, but I wanted to mention it again. It's not strictly sea-stories but it reads like a thesis on why some people in survivable situations die and others in seemingly insurmountable situations die. (Raft of the Medusa anybody??) A very very good read. 5/5

The Life of Pi (Fiction) By Yann Martel.
This is a Fiction story of a boy who is the son of a zookeeper who ends up adrift in a 26ft lifeboat with the only surviors of the cargo ship. Himself, a bengal tiger, a hyena and a zebra. It's a fascinating and awesome book that probably would be shelved in the philosophy section. It also seems they are making it into a movie, but I doubt this will adapt well to the screen. Read the book first!!! Easy 5/5.

And it appears I have missed one!!! Sole Survivor: The True Account of 133 Days Adrift. by Ruthanne Lum McCunn.
Summary by publisher: On November 23, 1942, German U-Boats torpedoed the British ship Benlomond, and it sank in the Atlantic in two minutes. The sole survivor was a second steward named Poon Lim, who, with no knowledge of the sea, managed to stay alive for 133 days on a small wooden raft. I've added it to my reading list.

Happy reading and if I missed a good castaway story please let me know!

10-27-2012 12:57 PM
Re: Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea

Another interesting read about survival conditions along with some sailing is the Shackleford expedition to Antartica in the 1914 time frame and his subsequent sail in a small boat to I believe the Fauklen Islands to get help to try and save his remaining crew.
This thread has more than 10 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome