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Old 08-17-2001
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Surviving on Salt Water

I'm curious about two things: The first involves the effects of drinking salt water in a life-raft situation, after the freshwater supply is gone. Is this possible? I have read of people that have injested salt water and gone berserk, usually jumping off into the briny deep.

The second involves Tania Aebi. I've read her book and I know that she writes for SailNet, but I have never seen a picture of her. Is she camera shy, or might I find a picture of her on line?

SailNet responds:
Thanks for your questions. Regarding the prospect of surviving at sea by drinking salt water, Dr. Alain Bombard says yes, you can. Dr. Bombard, who wrote Survival at Sea, became a voluntary castaway in 1952 for 65 days when he sailed a tiny inflatable boat across the Atlantic. The theory he developed on that trip is that by drinking small amounts of seawater early and regularly, a sailor can get his system accustomed to accepting saltwater for a prolonged period of time.

Most health professionals in the modern era don't recommend drinking saltwater, even if it's mixed with mostly freshwater. Dr. Bombard's findings notwithstanding, there's overwhelming evidence that drinking seawater will accelerate dehydration, and most experts strongly recommend against it. Dr. Bombard also recommended getting by through the use of fish juices and turtle blood if necessary, and those options probably do have merit for survivalists if not for those of the gourmet persuasion.

Now, regarding a photo of Ms. Aebi, there are several on our website that accompany some of the articles that she's written for us. Have a look at "Bon Voyage," the most recent article that she's published here. That's the author in the first and third images as well as the photo that appears on the right hand rail.

Here's hoping you continue to enjoy the editorial offerings here at SailNet, and that you never have the occasion to test Dr. Bombard's theory.

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