Do not under-value morale. It is the state of mind which backs you with courage and confidence. The lack of its has proved fatal far more often than the lack of water. The lack of it has killed more seamen than bombs and torpedoes. Morale is frequently the total of little things. Do not slight the trivialities which contribute to it.
CIGARETTES. -- Said Eugene Schlaflin, second engineer of the torpedoed tanker Charles Pratt: "Luckily we thought of cigarettes and grabbed cartons before we jumped into the boats. I think that saved some of us from going mad later."
There is magic in cigarettes. The crazed second cook who stepped over an open boat's gunwale to go "across the street to buy some pineapples," would probably be alive now if he had had cigarettes to steady him.
If you can do so without jeopardizing your safety, gather up all the cartons in the slop chest. The person in command of the boat must confiscate all cigarettes and ration them carefully. Cigarettes are most important at night
to the men on watch. It is then that they supply the very essence of morale -- courage and confidence.
EXTRA FOOD. -- If food beyond the usual rations has been salvaged, save it for the periods of gloom. In the Robin Moor lifeboat, biscuit crumbs moistened with fresh water, seasoned with sea water, and mixed with canned tomatoes provided a banquet that lifted the men's spirits out of all proportion to the quality of the fare.
Boost up or reduce rations according to the prospect of reaching land. Sighting a ship is no cause for growing reckless with the food. Many vessels, fearing a submarine trap, will not stop for you.
WATER. -- Though under the law water is changed periodically and the breaker is cleaned with a solution of baking soda, you may find that your supply is not as fresh as you would like it. Yet it is quite possible to make thirst-quenching in a lifeboat enjoyable.
The sparkling natural water to which you have always been accustomed, has a tang due to the carbon dioxide gas it has absorbed and changed to carbonic acid. If the ship's stores yield up any bottle of charged water, bring them along. A few drops mixed with your ration of unpalatable water will restore some of its flavor.
If a man has a fever or is a diabetic, he requires more water than the others. Allow him an extra ration.
LIQUOR. -- Wrote William Bligh in the log of the Bounty's open boat: "Being miserably wet and cold, I served to the people a teaspoonful of rum each, to enable them to bear with this distressed situation."
Liquor should be rationed out during squally weather, and to the men on watch during stormy nights.
CLOTHES. -- Keep your clothes on when it rains, with dry garments under the boat cover. Even in the tropics it grows chilly during the squalls. The men on watch should have oilskins. A dead man's clothes should be distributed among the crew.
Baker, the third mate of the torpedoed Prusa, reported: "Any man from lifeboat #1 can tell of nights of misery beyond belief when a rain squall caught us around dark, and we huddled together all night, praying for the sun. And this was within three or four degrees of the equator."
SAILING. -- Remember that the crewmen are used to a ten- or fifteen-knot ship. Unless the lifeboat is kept sailing constantly, their spirits will break. As long as the winds permit you to go in the general direction of your track, keep the boat moving.
LIGHT. -- For the first couple of nights use the oil lamp. It will give the men confidence. If you have put up a rail, lash the lamp to it, securing it to prevent swinging. You can hang the lamp to the stays, providing the weather is good.
Be sure the lamp is made fast so it will not swing. A swinging lamp will have an hypnotic effect on the men looking at it. Their eyes will stray back and forth, and they will not be watching what they are doing.
NATURE. -- With short rations muscular action of the intestines is likely to be suspended. It is usually possible, therefore, with women in the boat, to take care of this need at night. The bucket is awkward; for a urinal use a small milk can.
TOOTHBRUSH. -- A toothbrush not only will help you to keep your moth from being constantly foul; but also by freshening your mouth, you will ease the sensation of thirst.
BEDDING. -- Spread the life preservers on the bottom boards for those who ae turning in. With two men bailing, the preservers will aid in keeping the watch below from being soaked through. Hang the preservers up daily, to keep them from becoming foul.
IMPARTIALITY. -- From Captain Bligh we quote a method that was time-honored even in 1789:
"I divided it (a noddy, about the size of a pigeon), with its entrails, into 18 portions, and by a well-known method of the sea, of, who shall have this,* it was distributed, with the allowance of bread and water for dinner. ..."
* "One person turns his back on the object that it to be divided: another then points separately to the portions, at each of them asking aloud, 'Who shall have this?' to which the first answers by naming somebody. This impartial method of division gives every man an equal chance of the best share."
RECREATION. -- Do not overlook books, magazines, a musical instrument. Richard Phillips, second assistant of the Robin Moor, took along his portable radio, and tuned in dance music and news for the crew.
Due to the constant wetness, the deck of cards in Bainigan's boat fell apart in three days. Plastic cards would have eliminated the long stretches of boredom that followed. Though more expensive, plastic cards will last longer than fifty decks of paper cards. They are not affected by salt air, water, heat, or humidity. Plastic cards are obtainable in all seaport cities.
SUICIDE. -- The suicidal impulse is no stranger among open-boat crews. Yet strong clinical evidence supports the premise that seldom does a shipwrecked man, who commits suicide or has the impulse to do so, actually wish to die!
Since this is so, some understanding of the
insidious trickery which the human mind can play upon its possessor may aid him to stifle the suicidal impulse.
First, the victim of hysteria. He cannot help himself. The man who suddenly starts over the side, saying, "I'm going down to the corner for a glass of beer," is suffering from hallucination, dissociation of time and place, and it is your duty to restrain him.
Our concern is with another type of suicide, the real cause of which is obscured by the apparent cause.
What of the man who goes over the side without warning, or who releases his hold on the grab line and is lost? He has sought escape, you say. He has taken a quick exit from an intolerable situation. He could not stand the rough going. Pat explanations, disproved by hundreds of case histories.
Yet the man is dead -- and because of his own act. Suicide, self-destruction. True. But agreeing to that does not answer the question.
The real answer is that the man actually died because of his desire to kill an enemy. He died because of his inherent combative instinct, his inborn aggressiveness, his fighting heart!
Strange contradictions, almost unbelievable. But remember, these are facts. We are not quoting dreams.
A boarding party from a patrol ship went aboard this sinking derelict, found no sign of life,
and left the vessel to slip beneath the waves.
(International News Photos)
At one time or another, every man has turned his feeling of hostility against himself. He has kicked himself, cursed himself, shaken his fist in the mirror. With our man, that reversed hostility has reached a fatal degree.
Unable to strike back at his foes on the U-boat, unable to revenge himself against the Japs or Nazis who blasted him from the comfort of a steamer to the hardship of an open boat, he -- through a tricky mental process of which he is entirely unaware -- turned his raging hatred and hostility for the foe against himself! He did not want to die. He wanted to kill!
Accept this explanation. It is backed by lifetimes of clinical research. If you become imperiled by a suicidal impulse, you can fight it down with this knowledge. It is not difficult to swing reversed hostility away from yourself. Take it out on the wind and the sea. Throw yourself into your open-boat duties. A game is a battle. If you are still bent on self-destruction, postpone the act until after a session of poker. We will wager a pretty penny that the cards will change your mind.
BURIAL AT SSEA. -- Unto Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose
coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
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