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".
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!