15. Water and Thirst

Your body is about 70% water. Maintaining the water balance of your body, so as to sustain life, is a far more pressing problem in an open boat than that of refueling your system.

DEPRIVATION. -- If the human body is deprived of water for a few days, digestion will stop, toxic wastes will accumulate rapidly. The circulation will grow sluggish, due to the concentration of the blood, and will soon cease.

When deprived of water a person in good health will start to become delirious in about four days. Death will occur in from eight to twelve days; but at sea the shorter time is more likely.

TRUE THIRST. -- The burning irritation and the sensation of dryness in the throat and mouth is Nature's signal that your body needs water.

ARTIFICAL THIRST. -- Thirst is not always due to water need. The sensation of thirst can be created by sugar and salt, and even by sweetened or salted beverages. When the water supply is scant, avoid food and drink which contain sugar or salt.


BODY HEAT. -- The water in the tissues in protection against excessive body heat. When water evaporates, heat is used up. It is this process -- the heat of the body being absorbed by evaporating perspiration -- that keep your body at a safe temperature.

FOOD VERSUS THIRST. -- If you have no water supply, do not eat. The elimination of food wastes by the kidneys will draw water from the tissues, and will therefore reduce your survival time.

When you do eat dry food, be sure you nibble at it. The Robin Moor men made each biscuit last until the next ration was given out.

TEMPORARY RELIEF. -- Moistening the lips and the mouth will ease the thirst sensation. Captain R.H. Cairns, master of the torpedoed British tanker La Carrier, allayed his thirst, during the 80 hours he was in the water clinging to wreckage, by chewing on the buttons from his jacket. This stimulated the flow of saliva and moistened his throat.

Chewing on a lemon rind or a piece of gum will increase the flow of saliva and give temporary relief. But this relief will not reduce your urgent need for water.

EVAPORATION. -- A great amount of water is lost by the evaporation of perspiration. Keeping the body well covered. to protect the skin


against the sun and wind, will lessen the body's water loss and will add to your survival time.

DOUBLE-DUTY FOODS. -- In gathering your abandon-ship rations make every possible effort to obtain double-duty foods.

Water Content of Vegetables

RAIN. -- To collect rain water with the sail: Release a stay. Bring the sail to the after part of the mast. Raise it on a slant, with men on each side. Allow the rain to clear away the salt, before you being collecting water.

After deprivation, be sure you drink in small sips. Robert Tapscott, from the torpedoed British freighter Anglo-Saxon, drank three canfuls of rain water, after a long drought. His constricted stomach revolted and sent the water up.


BREAKERS. -- If possible, double up on the breakers.

RATIONS. -- Three 6-ounce cups of water a day are sufficient even in hot weather. Except for infrequent rains, each member of the crew of the Prusa's #1 lifeboat lived 31 days on 12 ounces of water a day.

SEA WATER. -- Robert Emmett Kelly, the only survivor of a tanker torpedoed in the Caribbean, reported that his shipmates drank sea water. It made them sick and did not ease their thirst. What they did not know was that it also hastened their death.

Leslie Morgan, second cook of the torpedoed Anglo-Saxon, drank can after can of sea water. He went out of his mind and soon dived overboard.

Sea water has a salt content of 3½%. That is equivalent to a full teaspoon of salt in a six-ounce cup of water.

The salt content of sea water is three times greater than in human blood. Drinking sea water will exaggerate thirst, and will promote water loss through the kidneys and the intestines, thus shortening your survival time.

URINE. -- Under the conditions of water deprivation, urine is too concentrated to be drunk. Its toxic waste products will add to the agony of thirst, contribute to dehydration, and lead to


excessive body heat of 105 degrees and over. Drinking urine will cut down your survival time.

ALCOHOL. -- Alcohol will promote water loss through the skin and kidneys.Drinking alcohol under the conditions of water deprivations is suicidal.

FATS. -- A highly fat food will supply more water and cause less water loss through the kidneys than will meat or starchy foods.

When no food is consumed during water deprivation, energy must be obtained from the body's own fats and proteins. In the process of turning the body's fats and proteins into energy, water is manufactured, and this body-made water helps maintain kidney activity. Therefore, you can see that by fasting during water deprivation, you will actually prolong your life.

FREEZING. -- If you are in freezing weather, it is possible, provided you have a means of melting ice, to obtain water which may be safely drunk.

Put a few quarters of sea water in an air tank. The pure water will freeze first. The salt will collect in high concentration in the core of the frozen piece. Dispose of this core, which is likely to be slush ice and ease to remove, and by melting the outer portions, you will have water sufficiently free of salt to sustain life.


ICEBERGS. -- When a part of a glacier reaches the sea, it breaks off and forms an iceberg. The glacial ice of a berg comes from snow, and is the source of fresh water.

FIELD ICE. -- When sea water freezes, the salt is forced to the top, and during thaws and rains, this salt is washed away, leaving ice that may be melted for drinking water. To obtain fresh water at sea, last year's ice, or older, must be used.

Last year's ice       This year's ice -- Salt ice
1. Rounded corners due to rains and thaws   1. Grayish in color
2. Bluish in color   2. No glare
3. Has a glare   3. Tough
4. Splinters easily with knife   4. Splinters less easily
5. Saltiness hardly noticeable   5. Salty


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