The improbability of surviving at sea in such a small boat at sea has led a number of commentators to question Alvarenga’s story, but investigators have been able to confirm some basic details. Journalist Jonathan Franklin’s new book, 438 Days, tells the story of sailors “survival in rainwater, life in the sea, their own hair and seasoned sea salt. Based on his journey so far, Franklin and specialists he consulted have found that it is possible that he accidentally encountered the marine life that he says sustained him during the storm and replenished his water supplies.
Even if he was stranded in a boat with a lifeboat floating next to your wetsuit, he probably would not have stowed a large amount of fresh drinking water. If you are in reasonable shape and swimming in ideal weather conditions, you may survive three to five days in the water.
While the recommended survival rate for a life raft is one litre of water and 1,000 calories per day, previous survival stories have shown that it is possible to make much less of it. A study of stranded people on life rafts during World War II cited in Tipton’s book found that a 200ml daily water ration increased survival chances. When swimming, you can survive for up to a third of a day without food or water in the ocean.
For example, if you have a floating device like a simple fishing line or a hook in the water, you could survive for months in the ocean. If your boat is rendered unusable or capsized, you can build a lifeboat, but as the many dangers of the ocean increase, your chances of survival diminish.
Jose Salvador Alvarez-Alvarenga survived with raw fish, turtles, small birds, sharks and rainwater. What was supposed to be a one-day trip turned into an arduous odyssey across the Pacific, he said, where he lost his fishing mates and tested his will and ability to survive.
The notion that Jose Salvador Alvarenga survived more than a year floating in a small boat across the Pacific Ocean is viewed with scepticism, but the feat is feasible for any fisherman with the experience of catching his own food at sea, according to survival experts. The man, named Salvador Alvarez, drifted across the ocean in his small fishing boat for 13 to 14 months. He could use his fish stocks to catch food, and he collected rainwater to drink.
A fisherman survived 438 days after being washed ashore in January 2014 near the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean following a two-day fishing trip in November 2012 to Mexico. But the voyage proved a daunting test of survival, and Salvador Alvarenga became one of the men at sea. The Ecuadorian Navy rescued the 18-year-old Adrian Vasquez after spending 26 days on a small fishing boat courtesy of the Ecuadorian Navy.
Two days after they set sail, the boat was torn apart by the sea and began to sink. After the waves filled it with water, the crew had to empty it, forcing Alvarenga to make a radical decision. After 25 days, a customs plane near Horns Island in Australian waters discovered an ice box containing two Burmese men whose fishing boat had also been involved in a disaster.
Alvarenga managed to catch fish, turtles, jellyfish and sea birds with their naked hands, and they recovered scraps of plastic waste floating in the water. They were followed by small sharks – they were small, less than two or three metres long – and he waited until they were next to the boat to grab them by the dorsal fins.
Alvarenga and Cordoba survived for several months by catching fish and birds, consuming turtle blood and rainwater, but one of the birds they ate made them poisonous and a snake was found in a bird’s stomach. His only companion, a 22-year-old Ezequiel, died four months after his death, but he survived by eating fish, turtles, birds, sharks and rainwater.
Jose Salvador Alvarez-Alvarenga is the first person in history to survive in a small boat that has been missing at sea for more than a year. Salvadoran fisherman was swept along by violent winds and storms from mid-November 2012 to the end of January 2014 – a period of 438 days and a distance of 9,000 kilometers -, ran out of fuel and drifted across the Pacific Ocean. The incredible story of survival at sea was inspired by the story of a young couple who set out to cross the ocean from Tahiti to San Diego, but did not expect to sail into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in history.