4 “Believe you can survive!” (no)
What I love about real-life travel stories is that they are informative. And if the novel about the expedition is also well-written, it’s doubly great: both a work of fiction read and enriched with new knowledge. “Overboard by Will” should have been just such a book, if it were not for one “but”, about which I will say a little later. But first, background.
In 1952, Alain Bombard, a French physician, sailed alone across the Atlantic Ocean in 65 days as part of an experiment. His goal was to prove that shipwrecked people could survive for long periods of time at sea without food and water supplies, eating only what they could get at sea. The author demonstrated from personal experience that to survive in open water it is enough to eat raw fish, drink the juice squeezed out of fish and drink sea water with it. This crazy idea came to him after Allen witnessed a large-scale shipwreck with 43 victims. Since then, as he studied the subject more and more, Bombard never ceased to ponder one question: How long can a man withstand all kinds of deprivation? In examining the problem of the victims, the doctor came to a disappointing conclusion. Many people die long before the physical or physiological conditions in which they find themselves become truly fatal. If thirst kills faster than hunger, despair kills much faster than thirst. “Remember, man, you are above all things a mind!” . In this respect I fully share Bombard’s thought: indeed, feelings of fear and hopelessness doom one to certain death.
Allen was immediately fired up with the idea of finding out for himself how a man, surviving autonomously in the middle of an endless ocean, could be saved. After theoretical training and a test sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, Bombard begins his own expedition. A lonely voyage along the Columbian route across the Atlantic Ocean. Of equipment only a rubber boat with a sail, the necessary measuring instruments, a harpoon, a diary and. basically everything. The goal is to become a victim of shipwreck of his own free will and try to survive by all available means at sea. Bombard takes no food or water on his long journey, except a sealed supply of provisions for emergencies.
This book is the voyager’s diary itself, i.e., the ship’s log, and the accompanying comments after Allen’s successful return from the expedition. The text reads easily and at ease, the travel notes describe almost every day of the voyage across the ocean in great detail (in some places even too much). Keep in mind that the author is not a sailor, but a doctor, so it was especially interesting to see how Bombard learned to handle all sorts of shipboard gadgets. From the book you can learn how to navigate the sea with a sextant and a map; what are the currents/winds/waves/tides and, in general, a complete course in ocean psychology; what are the birds and fish at sea; how does storm, salt water, hunger and cold affect man, etc. Quite a lot of curious details and nuances. But the most important thing in “Overboard on Your Own Will” is the theses that Bombard presents as “a survival manual for shipwrecked people. And here comes the very “but” that greatly undermines the usefulness of all this knowledge.
FirstFirstly, some of the data presented in the book is very outdated and was later disproved, because, after all, since the 50’s science is not standing still, and much of the information on which Mr. Bombard relied in his research, is no longer relevant. SecondThe manner of narration leads to the thought that in some places the author does not mind to lie and exaggerate. For example, the moment with steaming the shark’s belly from the tail to the throat with an ordinary knife. In the jump. A knife. A big shark. Hmm, something I doubt. And in general the author’s tone struck me as overconfident, overconfident, even harsh. Bombard speaks unflatteringly of the journalists around him, the jealous, assistants in the preparation for the expedition, which seems like “I owe everybody.” He blames outsiders for his failures on nothing and whines like an old man. In general, not the most pleasant type. Thirdhis “handbook” on how to survive at sea is simply life-threatening! So, Bombard says a man can drink seawater. But he advises to do it according to the following scheme: Five to six days of drinking seawater in small portions, then a break for fish juice.
“I quenched my thirst with seawater for 14 days and with juice squeezed from fish for 43 days. That’s how I conquered my thirst in the ocean” .
Bombard notes that no kidney dysfunction was noticed, the amount of secretions was normal, in short, not a life but a fairy tale. And what do modern researchers say about it? On the basis of the analysis of 448 cases of disasters in the British merchant marine, it turned out that from 977 people who quenched their thirst with sea water, 387 died – almost 40%! Normally a person gets about 15-25 grams of salt per day with food. The salinity of the Mediterranean Sea is 39 grams of salt per liter, in the Atlantic Ocean – 37 grams per liter. How is seawater dangerous to humans? It literally destroys his internal organs. After drinking seawater, the body receives an excess of salt, which is eliminated by the kidneys, using the body’s internal water reserve, which leads to dehydration. The CNS is especially vulnerable to the action of salts. That is why among people who were shipwrecked and could not resist the temptation of quenching their thirst with ocean water, so often were observed mental disorders, accompanied by suicide attempts. It is not in vain that there is an opinion among sailors that salt water causes insanity and hastens death. After A. Bombard’s recommendations appeared in the press, the WHO conference expressed the final opinion that seawater has a devastating effect on the human body. In the memos and instructions for sailors and pilots drinking seawater is prohibited! Yes, history knows of other cases in which people like Bombard drank seawater and survived. For example, the 37-day survival of naval doctor P. Eresko, the experience of American Lieutenant D. Smith, Captain William Willis. Bombard himself cries out that his actions are a survival manual to be followed by all who have been wrecked. His opponent, H. Lindeman, responded, “It is a crime, to say the least, to recommend drinking salt water to shipwrecked men. If sailors take the examples of these men as the ultimate truth, we will inevitably arrive at the typical survivor’s mistake. When only the successful experiences of the few who drank seawater and survived are taken into account, but the evidence of hundreds of dead people who drank seawater and died because of it is completely ignored. Bombard constantly calls to squeeze the juice out of fish, as they are 80% fresh water. V. G. Volovitch also questions this method of quenching thirst. He writes that “even with the help of a special press it is possible to squeeze out not so much water. For example, one kilogramme of sea perch could get only 50 grammes of juice, the meat of korifena gave 300 grammes, 400 grammes of turbidish fish-smelling liquid could be squeezed from the meat of tuna and cod. Perhaps this drink would help solve the problem, but for one serious “but”: its high content of substances harmful to humans, such as salts of sodium, potassium and phosphorus. Although the results of the experiment, conducted by the English scientist S. Hunter, showed that in the absence of fresh water fish juice can to some extent alleviate the situation of people in distress in the ocean. But it’s not certain :.
Bottom line: I believe that although Alain Bombard experienced an incredible voyage across the Atlantic, he took on too much in his book. “I will now struggle to make my ‘heresy’ understood and become the Christian faith for all who may be shipwrecked in the future.” His successful experience of drinking seawater is nothing more than an exception to the rule. Too many factors must come together for this method to be more or less safe: the salinity of the water, a person’s natural health, kidney function, etc. It’s as if Bombard deliberately chose the saltiest waters on earth to make the “proof” of his theory look brighter. Drinking water from the Atlantic Ocean, where 37 grams of salt per liter! Unthinkable and unlikely. Of course, maybe he got lucky. And he can share his experience of survival at sea with the world. But it is irresponsible, presumptuous and dangerous for future readers to turn it into a compulsory handbook, to write some recommendations and appeals to action. Therefore, I cannot say that the knowledge gained from this story is useful. Rather the opposite – harmful and contraindicated! Still, I love books about maritime travel, expeditions. I am fascinated and at the same time frightened by the power of the sea. This book is also about the blue-black clouds in the sky before the storm. About the insignificance of a tiny man, floating in a shell, before the power of the storm. About how calm, windless weather with clear blue skies becomes a sign of deadly danger to a sailor. For without motion a sailboat will not sail anywhere. And motion is life! “Overboard on its own volition” I recommend for reading to those who love such notes about sailors, love to read about real expeditions and who are always looking for new knowledge in books. Even if not always useful!
How to survive in the sea or ocean? What to do in a shipwreck?
90% of victims who are shipwrecked or lost in the ocean die within the first three days. But it would take much longer to die of hunger or thirst! How do you survive in the sea or ocean when the rest of us go to our ancestors? What to do when shipwrecked?
On April 14, 1912, the transatlantic steamer Titanic collided with an iceberg. The first ships had already arrived at the wreck in 3 hours, but there were already enough dead and deranged passengers in the lifeboats. Statistics say that 90% of the victims die in the first 3 days. Many shipwrecked or lost in the ocean die from ignorance of basic survival rules rather than from objective causes.
In modern times, there are many small disasters and loss of course on the water. People find themselves many kilometers from land in the sea, ocean, or other water element. Some die almost immediately, while others survive drifting for quite a long time. How do you survive in the sea or ocean when the rest go to your ancestors?
French physician and biologist Alain Bombard set up a risky experiment in ocean survival. He crossed the Atlantic alone in a rubber boat. Alain Bombard proved that it was possible to survive at sea long enough to eat only the gifts of the sea. He lost 25 kilograms, suffered vision disorder, lost his toenails, exhausted his body, and his skin was covered with a rash. But Alain Bombard proved that it was possible to survive in the ocean for sixty-five days.
Do you want to know how to survive in these extreme conditions? What to do when shipwrecked in the sea or ocean? We’ve read Alain Bombard’s book “Overboard on Your Own Will” by Alpina Publisher and put together recommendations so you don’t die like the others.
How do you survive in the sea or ocean?
1. Don’t panic in a shipwreck
When trouble happens on the water element, a man drops his spirits. He freezes in his small vessel/boat/raft and dies out in a matter of days. The victims of legendary shipwrecks do not die from the sea, thirst, or hunger. They die of pity and fear. Long before physical or physiological conditions become truly fatal.
2. Getting Water.
The most important problem a person will face in the ocean is the lack of water. Death is inevitable on the 10th day of existence. And even if you start fetching and drinking water on day 10, it will not be enough. The body will not be able to recover. During the first three or four days after the accident you have to drink water. And where do you get it? Alain Bombard for fourteen days quenched his thirst with seawater (not in a row, but in total) and for forty-three days with juice (squeezed from fish).
Seawater. Seawater is very dangerous, unlike fresh water, it has a lot of sodium chloride (table salt). If you drink a lot of it, you will die of nephritis. According to the observations of Alain Bombard, one can drink from 800 to 900 grams of salt water per day. But only for five days. Its further use threatens to lead to nephritis. From sea water a person sometimes gets an upset stomach and vomiting. You can drink a little sea water occasionally, when there is no fresh water, but very carefully.
Rain. Sometimes it rains, and this is real fresh water! You need to get as much water as possible in available containers during this period.
Condensation. By morning, condensation can result in fresh water condensation on the bottom of the boat. It’s like dew on the roof of a well sealed tent. It can be collected with a sponge or a piece of rag in good quantities! It may not be enough, but it will serve as a significant survival aid.
Fish. Fresh water can be taken from fish. Fifty to eighty percent of the weight of the fish is water. You can make notches on the back of large fish, like when collecting pine resin. This way you can quickly get drunk with fresh water. The fish itself can also be eaten. It has enough water in it.
3. Getting food.
Fish. When surviving in the sea or ocean, the main food and “drink” will be fish. Some fishing gear is needed for catching. It is good if you have a net, rods, fishing line, spear, harpoon, cords, and wire. Having some tackle will help to do the fishing. But if they are not available, you can make them yourself. How to make an improvised spearhead? Catching fish is not very difficult if you tie something sharp to an oar or a scrap of a stick. It can be a nail from a boat hull, a piece of iron, a knife or other sharp object. How do you make a fishing rod? You can tie something like a hook or something shiny to the cord. Some species of fish are caught without any bait. Often at night, fish will jump into the boat on their own to escape their more predatory counterparts. To keep it from jumping back out, put a net or other material on the bottom of the boat.