16. Food and Hunger

The point to remember in selecting your extra abandon-ship rations is that your body is equipped to manufacture energy for a long time, while its water supply must be replenished frequently. If you have to choose between an food with a low calorie value but a high water content, and one that is high in energy but low in water -- take the food with the water.

SURVIVAL TIME. -- If you are in good health, you can live without food for as long as sixty days, though open-boat conditions probably would cut that time down to fifty days.

HUNGER. -- The sensation of hunger is caused by the muscular contractions of the empty stomach. This sensation will continue throughout the period of fasting.

CALORIES. -- A calorie is a unit of heat, by which the energy value of food is measured. In the doldrums your body will use up about 2000 calories a day; in rough weather, 3500 calories or more.

ENERGY VALUES. -- While the water content should be your first consideration in the selection


of food, it is advisable to add, if possible, some of these compact foods, which have high calorific -- or energy -- value. The figures given here denote calories per pound.

WATER CONTENT. -- The foods with a high water content will provide very little energy. The figures here denote calories per pound.

ALCOHOL. -- Liquor contains considerable


energy, but its function in an open boat is to sustain morale during night watches and in cold and squally weather. These figures denote calories per pint.

BODY FAT. -- The fat in your body is stored energy. One pound of your body fat, burned up by your system, will provide 3500 calories, or sufficient energy to carry you through a day of rough weather in an open boat.

COLD WEATHER. -- Sugar and fats are rapidly absorbed by the tissues, and supply a quick source of heat and energy. Foods rich in sugar and fats should be rationed during cold weather. Butter, cheese, dried milk, nuts, cocoanut, chocolate and cocoa drinks are rich in fats. Chocolate candy performs double duty, being rich in both sugar and fats.

NIGHT WATCH. -- Cocoa contains a stimulant called theobromine, which resembles coffee's caffein. On a gloomy night watch, cocoa, along with a cigarette and a raton of liquor, will prove a morale builder.

FISH SPEAR. -- Should your trip be prolonged, you will often find that the water around you, particularly in the tropics, is boiling with fish.


Fishing with a hook and line is not practicable. Your hook either will be taken by a large fish, which will snap your line, or a small fish, which will be devoured before you can draw it in.

If you have a long, slender stick and a knife, you can fashion a spear which will serve you well. But do not weaken the structure of your boat by cutting away any part of its to provide your shaft.

FISH. -- The flying fish which glide into your boat, and the fish you catch, may be eaten raw. But do not make Captain Bligh's mistake:

June 9, 1789
At four in the afternoon we caught a small dolphin, the first relief of the kind we obtained. I issued about two ounces to each person, including the offals, and saved the remainder for dinner the next day.

June 10, 1789
This afternoon I suffered great sickness from the oily nature of part of the stomach of the fish, which had befallen to my share at dinner.

Harold F. Dixon, the Navy filer, reported that he and his two crewmen were able to catch a small shark. They ate the shark's liver and two sardines found in its stomach, and drank the blood.

The seaweed along all the coasts supports a great population of tiny shellfish, these may be eaten.


Robert Emmett Kelly reported that one of his lifeboat mates ate a jellyfish, became deathly sick, and jumped overboard.

RAW FISH. -- Bring along some bottles of lime juice. If you catch a fish, and have no means of cooking it with fire, use this Tahitian recipe. Clean the fish and cut it into small chunks. Put the chunks in a Mason jar or other glass container. Do not use tin. To one part sea water add two parts lime juice. Stir and pour over the fish, covering it entirely. Let it stand for eight hours. The citric acid will cook the fish and provide you a much-relished South Sea delicacy.

TROPICAL FISH. -- Extreme care must be taken in easting fish in the tropics. In the vicinity of coral islands, for instance, nearly all the fish are at times poisonous, and the liver from one species of shark is deadly poisonous at all times.

FLYING FISH. -- In area where flying fish are plentiful, they are easily caught with a torch and a spear or a landing net. The light is thrown on the water thirty or forty feet from the boat. The fish come skipping across the water like a flat stone thrown along the surface. They will bang against the side of your boat, or fall in the water and lie blinded on the surface.

Baker, the Prusa's third mate, caught over 100 in one hour of fishing from a canoe near


the Gilbert Islands. He used torches made of dry cocoanut leaves, and a landing net.

In a lifeboat a few may be caught by hanging a mirror, or anything that glitters, along the gunwale when the moon is bright.

DRIED FISH. -- In the tropics, if water is plentiful, raw fish may be prepared by cutting them into thin slices, soaking the strips n sea water, and hanging them in the sun. This method should not be used unless water is plentiful, as the salt fish will induce thirst.

RAWHIDE. -- Rawhide contains considerable food value and will not make you ill. But be sure it is rawhide. Commercially tanned leather is not to be used as food. Either boil the rawhide to a jelly-like consistency, or cut the hide into small pieces and swallow them.

PEMMICAN SOUP. -- Mix your ration of pemmican with water, and heat. Then break your ration of biscuit into this soup.

DRIED SALMON. -- Salmon, dried by native Alaskans, is an excellent and delicious food for Arctic weather. It is unsalted. No preservative is required except protection against the sea and rain.

SUET STEW. -- Boil rice, chocolate, and chopped-up suet together in plenty of water. This was a favorite dish with the men in


Stefansson's third Arctic expedition. For a day's ration: ½ lb. rice, ½ lb. suet, ¼ lb. chocolate.

To economize on fuel -- bring the mixture to a boil. Then place the can on wood, a non-conductor, and wrap in a blanket. Allow the stew to cook by this fireless method for twenty minutes.

BIRDS. -- The albatrosses he and his crew caught, Captain Bligh considered "not inferior in taste to fine geese." The albatross caught by the Prusa's crew proved to be so tough and had such ah foul odor that it could not be eaten. However, the flying fish taken from its stomach were delicious.

If you have provided yourself with a slingshot, or the materials to make one, it will not take any great skill to bring down some of the birds which will fly near you.

Another method of catching birds is with a long-thonged cat-o'-nine tails.

SEAWEED. -- Laver, Irish moss, and agar are used as human food; but unless you have a plentiful supply of water, you are advised against trying to obtain nourishment from seaweed. Not only are seaweeds tough and salty, but they also absorb large quantities of water, and about all you will obtain from chewing on them is an intolerable thirst.

VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES. -- If your gums bleed


and have a bruised appearance, you have a touch of scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C, which is found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

The inability to see well in a dim light indicates night blindness, the result of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is found in carrots, peaches, cod liver oil, butter, eggs, milk, beef liver.

The peeling and scaling of your skin, knee jerks and other evidences of nervousness, which may or may not be accompanied by headaches, spinal pain and melancholia, show that your are a victim of pellagra.

These symptoms are mentioned merely so you will not burden yourself with worry over the thought that you have a dangerous disease.

Scurvy, night blindness, and pellagra are the diseases of wrong diet. Soon after you reach land, proper food will cause any of these symptoms to disappear. Forget them and sail your boat.


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