February 26, 2024

A Sailor Can Survive Two Months Alone At Sea: How Long Can You Survive Without Water?

An Australian sailor has made headlines this week after spending two months alone with his dog in the Pacific Ocean.

Fifty-year-old Tim Shaddock, from Sydney, became stranded with his dog Bella after a storm hit his boat on their trip from Mexico to French Polynesia. He was able to survive by drinking rainwater and eating raw fish that he caught with the boat’s fishing gear. It is vital, because exposure to the Sun and the cold is one of the biggest killers of humans thread in the wild, he was able to create shelter from the canopy of the boat.

He was rescued by a trawler last week, he is thinner than usual but otherwise healthy and recovering well, BBC News reports. It is also said that the dog is “good”.

“I have been in a very difficult situation at sea,” said Shaddock 9 News. “All I need is rest and good food as I have been alone at sea for a long time. Other than that I am in very good health.”

Shaddock and Bella were very lucky, if you ignore the opening scene when a storm destroyed their boat. They were able to find food, shelter and water to survive. But how long can you live without water?

Any paper he makes it clear, that “experiments with humans are ethically unacceptable” on the subject. You can’t stop giving someone water and start a stopwatch very well. Instead, we must learn from the real cases of people who are trapped or lost in the wilderness, or people who lack food and drink in other ways. That paper looked at media reports, concluding “it seems possible to survive without food and drink within a time period of 8 to 21 days” with that time improving to about two months if not but food is absent.

This seems a bit on the optimistic side though, with the consensus that is, the average person can only go two or three days without water. This will vary wildly depending on the person’s health and age, of course, as well as other factors such as environmental temperature. In 1979, then 18 years old Andreas Mihavecz locked up in a police cell in Germany after an accident. He remained there for the next 18 days before being found again in the basement cell, having lost a lot of weight, but still alive.

In one of the few human experiments, two scientists in 1944 deprived themselves of water and ate a diet of dry food, like a cat. The 28- and 33-year-olds survived the experiment, which they stopped before it became life-threatening.

“By the third or fourth day their faces had become a little pinched and pale and there was a hint of cyanosis under their lips,” a paper on both reads. “This general appearance of sickness ceased within a few hours after the fluid was restored, and the symptoms of dehydration disappeared long before the physiological rehydration was complete.”

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