5,505 forum posts
This is one of those topics that strictly speaking is off the topic of this forum, but the fundamentals are quite relevant -
I just watched "All is Lost", an indie movie starring Robert Redford. The basic story is that "Our Man" (the character played by Redford is never named) is an older man who for unstated reasons is sailing solo across the ocean. As the story unfolds, we learn that he is well-equipped and overall very knowledgeable in sailing. When the movie opens, he reads us something he has written (virtually the only dialog in the entire movie) to the effect that "I am sorry, but I am sure you know that I tried, I really tried ... but now All is Lost". We then go to 8 days earlier to see him rudely awakened by a jolt and loud noise, awakening him to see water pouring into his boat through a hole. A title says he is 1600 miles from the Sumatra Strait. Investigation shows that a shipping container has apparently fallen off a ship and run into the side of his sailboat (one of those large boxes that are packed full of goods, stacked onto a container ship, and transported between continents, then placed on trucks and rail cars for final delivery). He makes use of his sea anchor to pull the container out of the side of his boat. The story unfolds from there as one thing after another goes bad - he uses his skills to patch the hole, deal with monstrous storms (typhoon?) that roll his boat upside down then rightside up, finally demasting his boat. He tries calling for help on his radio, which has been flooded with salt water, with the batteries failing, also from getting submerged in the water that came in through the container hole and during the storms. With the batteries dead, he has to handpump the water out of the inside of the boat. During another storm, his boat is further damaged, so he inflates his liferaft, eventually cutting it loose as the boat finally sinks. He teaches himself celestial navigation (he had good book and an excellent sextant with him - which prompts the question - have you ever really spent the effort to learn all those survival skills, or did you just sit through a course or read a book, leaving it at that?). His navigation tells him he is crossing into a major shipping lane - perhaps he can get rescued by a ship. If a ship comes by, will it even notice him in a little bobbing life raft in the middle of a huge ocean.
I won't tell you the details of how the movie ends, except to note that you can interpret the ending in at least 3 different ways.
This is a very different situation that the Tom Hanks "Castaway" or "The Life of Pi", in that he has no companions. Hanks had "Wilson" (the volleyball), and Pi has the tiger. Besides, both of them had fortuitous landfall on islands. But Our Man is alone, and there are no islands for a thousand miles in any direction.
It raises the question of "what would I do in such a situation, where I was alone and something disastrous happens that I can't just get help in the nominal 10 minutes that a 911 call gives, and that I can't just walk or paddle or sail for a couple days to safety". Do I reach a point where I just give up because "All is Lost"? What is that point? Aaron Ralston persisted to the point that he used a dull knife to cut off his arm. But at least once he did that, he only had a short walk to get help (no drifting in hopes that you cover the 1600 miles of friendly ocean currents). Do I have the knowledge and skills (and gear) to keep on trying to survive against overwhelming odds?