Last Updated on August 8, 2023
What’s the scariest thing that can happen when you’re onboard a ship out at the vast seawaters? A shipwreck, of course!
As Murphy’s law states, things that can go wrong will always go wrong. Since you know that a shipwreck can occur in one form or another, it’s always best to be ready and gear up for the worst. This is why techniques and skills concerning personal survival at sea are critical to preparing for such circumstances.
Through the centuries, countless ship abandonments or shipwrecks have occurred in many parts of the world. There are even numerous cases where people survived shipwrecks for days, weeks, and sometimes even months out at sea with minimal provisions until they were rescued. Thanks to their personal survival techniques and skills, they could stay alive during this time.
Poon Lim was the best example of survival following a shipwreck. Lim was a sailor during World War II aboard the SS Benlomond that suffered from an attack by a German U-boat. The sailor was the only survivor, and he managed to grab a small wooden raft and a life jacket with limited survival supplies of water, food, and flares.
But after some time, Lim’s supplies ran low, and he had to catch fish to improvise. He lost all his supplies after a severe storm hit him and his raft. The sailor went to extremes to survive, catching birds and sharks. He consumed the edible portions raw and even drank their blood as a water source.
After 133 days, some fishermen rescued Lim near the Brazilian coast. He kept the record of having the longest survival on a life raft. When asked about his record, Lim said he hopes no one else will have to break it.
Based on Lim’s story, it’s safe to say that personal survival techniques and sea skills are critical to following ship abandonment.
Basic Learning from Personal Survival Techniques Course
Survival skills encompass the abilities and knowledge required to sustain life in natural environments. At the core of our personal survival techniques course lies self-sufficiency. It becomes your personal responsibility to master these skills and put them into practice. If you want to learn more about these essential skills and techniques, check out our free course. In personal survival, three fundamental necessities hold significance: food, shelter, and water. These necessities require unique techniques or skills tailored to different situations and environments.
Food can take various forms depending on the environment. It may involve fishing, foraging for plants, or hunting. One crucial aspect to consider is maximizing nutrient intake.
The safest and most effective approach is to cook food before consumption to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. However, in certain environments like the sea, cooking may not be feasible, making it impossible to consume available food in its raw state.
While some animal parts can be safely consumed without cooking, it is still advisable to cook food to ensure safety and prevent diseases. Avoid eating without access to water, as it will only worsen dehydration.
Finding shelter is another crucial element to personal survival. Depending on the environment, there are various choices for the specific type of shelter. The quality of the shelter might be a matter of life and death in cold environments. Shelter and shade are essential for hot environments to prevent dehydration and protect your skin.
Regardless of the environment, water is undoubtedly the most critical necessity for survival. Collecting water might need significant or little effort. Rainwater collection is often the best way to find clean water. One more method is to boil water from the bodies of water. Fish or animal blood can also be a water source if there is little rainwater or no freshwater, often out in the sea.
Being familiar with the survival skills required for different environments is part of your personal responsibility. These skills often spell the difference between life and death if modern conveniences are unavailable. Although acquiring these skills takes time and effort, your life might depend greatly on them.
Maritime Hazards and Dangers
The maritime industry comprises a substantial portion of the global workforce, playing a vital role in various sectors. In the United States alone, there are over 60,000 maritime jobs. These encompass transportation, vessel construction, repair, and loading and unloading operations.
Insufficient training, enclosed spaces, slip and falls, and falling overboard are the most common reasons for maritime injuries. An average of 1,100 injured crewmembers and 100 deaths are recorded yearly.
There is also the possibility that ship abandonment will take place out at sea. A shipwreck can occur, although you might not be part of a maritime workplace. There is an average of 50 abandoned ships recorded every year.
OSHA has several standards and guidelines to keep maritime employees safe and protected. One such standard ensures the ship is equipped with lifesaving equipment onboard. This only means that all ships must have all the necessary survival provisions. Correct training for using these provisions is essential and an integral aspect of personal survival.
People often don’t have any other choice but to go into the water once a call to abandon ship occurs. Knowing and understanding the basics of properly using safety equipment is important. Two climates are typically experienced when you are out at sea: cold and warm. Some specific practices and measures should be followed for every climate.
Maritime Survival Techniques
While this list may not encompass all important techniques, the ones mentioned here are crucial for survival. Additional techniques are typically covered in most personal survival courses.
Remember, every emergency situation is unique. Rely on your training, knowledge, and best judgment to ensure survival. For more comprehensive information, consider enrolling in our free survival course, where you can explore additional techniques and strategies.
When the signal or alarm to abandon the ship is given, it’s natural to feel panicked. However, it’s important to remain calm and work efficiently to carry out the following steps as effectively as possible.
- Wear warm clothes.
- Wear a life jacket.
- Grab the lifeboat and all provisions for survival.
After you ensured that you followed all these steps, the next thing to do is enter the water. Once you have a lifeboat in the water, here are the steps to follow:
- Avoid jumping into the lifeboat.
- Secure all provisions and everyone to the lifeboat.
- Inspect for leaks.
For inflated lifeboats, do the following:
- Inflate the lifeboat after you are cleared from the shipwreck.
- The lifeboat should be inflated properly without being too soft or too hard.
- Check the boat’s inflation every day.
- Stay away from things that could puncture the boat.
- Inflate air during cold climates because the cold will contract air.
- Deflate air during hot climates since heat will expand air.
- Use a repair kit to fix any holes.
Most of the time, water and food are provided in the survival provisions. The most sensible thing to do here is to ration the water and food as much as possible. Avoid eating if water is not available. The minimum water required daily for survival is around 2 to 5 ounces. The steps below should be followed to continue survival if the provisions already ran out:
- Try to use containers to collect water.
- Try collecting seaweeds and plankton.
- Try to use shoelaces, a fishing line, or something similar to catch fish.
- Try to catch turtles and seabirds.
- Consume the blood of the animals or fish you caught as a substitute for water.
Mental health is among the main concerns following survival on a lifeboat. Spending time at sea will always take a toll on mental health like nothing else. When a room to surrender occurs, many people don’t last long and die. Here are three helpful things to protect your mental health:
- Try to keep a journal if there is a pencil and paper in the provisions.
- Stay mentally active.
- Don’t give up, and keep your belief in your survival.
While it is true that the mere thought of being in a shipwreck can be quite scary, always remember that chances of survival are still there. Ensure you remember all of the personal survival techniques you’ve learned in the courses once you are out at sea soon. These courses will help you ensure that you will make it all safe and sound even if the worst happens.