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How to Survive on a Raft in the Ocean


To Survive on a Raft in the Ocean, you need to be prepared for some unexpected circumstances

Many people take to the water for a host of different reasons. Boating is a favorite activity for many, whether it’s for leisure purpose or for commercial fishing. Many of the big fishing boats are equipped with rescue craft of which they are regarded as virtually unsinkable. Many people set out in fine weather on a leisure cruise, and witness how the seas become choppy, the wind strengthens, and their boats overturn. Freak waves knock people off the decks of their schooners.

Never Underestimate the Elements

The news is full of tragic accidents at sea due to carelessness, inexperience or underestimating the elements. So many people take trips on pleasure cruise boats to sail safe waters, without realizing the treacherous coastal waters claim many lives each year. Boating has become increasingly popular because it enables people to escape from a world of problems and restrictions. Like any other sport, it does have it rules, if it is to be enjoyed in safety, and these must be observed with care and foresight by everyone afloat.

With the massive interest in boating all around the world, accidents are likely to increase. Sea Rescue Institutes exist around the world, and with their coast guard watch efforts, they keep a sharp lookout for boats in trouble and they take calls from people in distress at sea.

There are many experience sailors who reject the idea of safety laws because they believe that blanket regulations will keep people away from boating. Boating experts believe that the way to cut boating accidents is for newcomers to join established clubs. Anyone can join these clubs, even those people with tiny rowing dinghies.

  • Before you set out on any boating trip, learn the rules of the sea. Study local hazards and tides and pay heed to weather reports, as conditions in coastal water can be extremely changeable. Leave word where you are going and when you are likely to return.
  • Never take chances and never overload your boat.
  • Check your safety gear and distress flares before leaving
  • Make sure that everybody on board is equipped with approved life-jackets which should be worn by everyone even in calm conditions when you are out boating in a small boat.
  • If you are setting out in a small motor-boat, remember that two engines provide greater safety than one – if you only have one – rather stay close to the shore to other boats.
  • Take drinking water with you as thirst can be very distressing and even dangerous after a few hours adrift.
  • If your boat fills with water and capsizes, stay with it. Don’t try to swim to shore even if it looks temptingly close. Nine out of 10 people get lost trying to swim ashore and could have been saved if they had stayed with their boat.
  • If your boat does sink, and it has a raft, you can consider yourself truly fortunate. If your boat sinks and you don’t have a raft, look for something that can help to keep you afloat. Air trapped in wet clothing will provide extra buoyancy if you have no life jacket.

What starts out as a dream getaway – an adventure to an island paradise in the south Pacific – can turn into a nightmare when massive grey clouds roll up and winds and waves batter your boat from every side. Not for one minute tell yourself that modern boats of today can’t flip and always be ‘slightly fearful’ of the ocean’s power.

Whether you are stranded in a raft on the ocean because of a plane crash or a sinking boat, by following some useful survival tips, you know the strategies that can keep you alive for a while longer until help arrives.

  • The body can’t survive for longer than 4 days without water, so your first priority will be to find a source of water to stay hydrated. It might well rain and it is important to find different kinds of materials in the raft as well as floating on the water to make some of a container to catch fresh rain water. Refrain from drinking sea water for as long as you possibly can. If there is some form of an emergency kit in the raft you can try to make some kind of a fishing rod to attract fish as these will be a source of food and liquid for you. You may be fortunate to have managed to salvage desalination kits – use them only for immediate water needs.
  • Plankton and seaweed is nutritious and can often be found on the surface, and this can be something for you to feed on while you wait for rescuers to come.
  • Try to salvage all useful floating equipment and secure them to the safety lines which are both inside and outside your raft. Just make double sure that none of the items have sharp points that can puncture your raft.
  • Sanitation is critical for your survival – urine and excrement mustn’t be allowed to pollute the raft. It is best to urinate and defecate by sitting/hanging over the sides of the raft. With a weakened immune system, you can’t afford to slacken in your efforts to keep the raft free from urine and feces.
  • Make sure to use every available signaling devices you can find to signal and make contact with rescuers. If you suspect you can see a ship on the horizon or a small plane flying over, wave some fabric, even if it’s some of your clothing. If you managed to salvage some tin or glass items, use these reflecting materials to attract attention. Some modern rafts come equipped with signaling devices such as flares and these should only be used if you are certain a ship or plane will see you.
  • ● Panic can make you want to drift anywhere, but the truth is the closer you stay to your ‘disaster’ area, the better, as this is where your first rescue attempts will be directed. It is better to throw out the anchor to create some drag and this will help you stay close to your site, making it easier for searchers to find you. Without an anchor it is unbelievable but true, that you can drift about 150 kilometers in just one day, making your raft more difficult to find.
  • If you aren’t alone and there are several of you on the raft, you will be glad to huddle together at night to absorb warmth from each other. You will also need to take turns on keeping watch for any passing ships or planes. In the group each one should be assigned a task which rotates to relieve boredom – water collector, fishing, lookout, signaler and also water bailers. The water bailer should simultaneously be checking for leaks and to take appropriate action in your circumstances and with the provisions you have to stop leaks.
  • If you are in a hot climate, you should try to make provision to keep out of the direct sun as much as possible, as bad sunburn, blisters and red, aching skin can be debilitating and even cause sun stroke.

Be a Survivor

By following these tips, you may be wet, cold, dehydrated, sick, exhausted and close to death, but by keeping your head and following these tips and advice, you may well be carried off your raft alive where you’ll be treated in hospital and discharged, ready to take on your next adventure.

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