How to Survive from Being Stranded at Sea

How to Survive from Being Stranded at Sea

How to Survive from Being Stranded at Sea

The chances of surviving from being stranded at sea are high if you know the basics of survival. Contrary to the popular opinion that one must know how to swim to survive, there are several strategies that non-swimmers can do.

Although knowing how to swim is a great advantage, you must also learn a few ways to help you survive. Thus, knowing some survival techniques can be very beneficial later on and is worth all your efforts.

With the testimonials of those who were able to experience being stranded at sea, people can gain a few tips and learn from their experience.

Here are nine tips to help you survive from being stranded at sea:

Learn how to float in calm water

Trying to stay afloat in the water should be your priority. To do this, you must calm and relax first. Then, you can do the following floating methods:

Floating back in calm water

Calmly lie on your back on the water, then let your body float while keeping your head above the water. Additionally, floating back in water can be more comfortable. So, you can do this when you want to relax your body for a quick moment.

Floating front on rough water

Lie your face down in the water to allow your body to float, continue doing this and lift your head only when you need to take a breath

Improvise floating devices

Given the circumstances that there are no floating devices available, you can simply create one from what you are wearing or what is around you.

A pair of trousers

Believe it or not, you can improvise a floating device using a pair of trousers or pants. To do this, simply knot the ends of each leg and button the pants. Then, squeeze the water in your pants as much as possible and fill it with air by waving it above the water.

After filling it with air, put the pants behind your head, and you will be able to float with it. You can also do this process with your shirt, plastic bags, and tote bags if you want to make more floating devices.


If you happen to have dead wood, logs, and other branches around you, you can use them to stay afloat. It would also be great if some ropes or items can bind the wood around you. This way, you can build a makeshift raft for yourself.

Empty Containers

You can also use empty gallons of water or other barrel-like containers as a floating device. You can also bind these containers if there are any ropes or straws around you to create a makeshift raft.

Additionally, remember to take off your shoes, jewelry, hats, and other unnecessary objects when you are stuck in the water. These items will only weigh you down, and it may be hard to move in the water while wearing unessential items.

Find water to drink

Being stranded at sea does not mean that you will not encounter a water crisis. In cases where you have stored water in your raft or boat, you must make sure that you ration your water wisely. Since you do not have any idea when rescue will come, it is best to be ready.

On the other hand, if you do not have any stored water or consumed it all, there are several ways you can try. You can catch rainwater on your empty containers or any plastic items. If you do not have any of these, you can use your clothes or fabric to absorb rainwater.

However, remember to avoid drinking the first rainwater you catch when using fabrics or other materials because it might contain salt from seawater. Also, bear in mind that it is not safe to drink seawater because of the salt it contains, which can lead to dehydration. Instead, you can use your first rainwater catch to wash your food or clean any wounds.

Find food

After catching drinking water, food should be your next priority. If rescue does not come within a day of being stranded at sea, you need to find food to survive. The best option you have is finding food through fishing, but at the same time, you can also catch seabirds or seaweeds.

If you are lucky enough to have a fishing rod in your raft or boat, you can easily catch fish since most small fishes usually gather underneath rafts or boats.

However, if you do not have a fishing rod with you, it is possible to create and improvise one. You can use your shoelaces or any string to make a fishing line, then look for anything sharp to serve as a hook.

After successfully catching a fish, you can use its gut as a bait to catch larger fishes.


Finding land can be easier if you know how to navigate at sea. With today's technology, you are lucky enough if you carry any location tracking device. However, electronic devices are no good for saltwater, most especially when their batteries run out.

Since electronic devices are of no use, you must know about navigating through the sky. That is if you do not have a compass with you. Here are some ways that you can use to determine direction.

Navigate with sun

Navigating with the sun is easy as long as you know its basics. First, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This will help you determine which direction you are headed. Then, the sun is due South at midday in the northern hemisphere and is due north in the southern hemisphere.

Navigate with the stars

You can navigate with the stars by locating the North Star. Contrary to what most people believe, the North Star is not the brightest. To locate it quickly, you should find Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper.

The outermost star of the latter constellation points to the North Star. Remember that the whole northern sky is a big clock with the North Star in the center.

Navigate with the Southern Cross

If you want to find the South, you should look for the Southern Cross constellation. The Southern Cross constellation consists of five stars, which form a cross. Four of its stars are so bright, so you can easily find this constellation in the sky.

Take a rest

In the open sea, it can be hard to control where you want to go. Sometimes, the current can be too strong, and paddling can be a struggle. Instead of forcing things, you can use this opportunity to rest and just let the current take you to land.

You can take this chance to save or regain your energy. You can start paddling and using your energy again once you see signs of land or ships that can rescue you.

How to find signs of land

Hoping for rescue is okay; however, your better chance of survival is by finding ground. Here are some useful signs to quickly determine that you are heading towards land:

  • Constant wind with decreasing
  • Muddy water indicates a large river
  • Green tint below clouds
  • Sightings of abundant birds
  • Cumulus clouds

How to attract rescue

There are various ways to attract rescuers from the sea. You can check your life raft or boat for any signaling devices or flares. If these are not available, you can improvise a signaling tool, such as using a mirror.

Additionally, you can attract rescue by reflecting your mirror to the sun. Aside from this, if you are wearing a life jacket, it probably includes a whistle and some lights. You can use them to attract the attention of nearby survivors or passing ships.

Beware of predators

Sharks are the most common predator in the open sea, so it would be best to avoid attracting them as much as you can. Commonly, sharks are attracted to blood and other shiny objects.

So, if you find yourself stranded at sea, you should avoid getting cuts or wounds and remove bright clothes and shiny jewelry.

In cases where you encounter a shark, slap the water and be as loud as you can. If you are in a group and encounter a shark, gather together and splash the water to scare the shark away. However, if a shark comes to you, attack it by striking its gills and its eyes.

Surviving the Sea

Sea survival techniques are essential because of the unpredictable circumstances that one may encounter. It is necessary to learn some of the primary ways of surviving because rescue may come after being stranded for a couple of days or weeks - if you are unlucky.

Also, surviving can be more comfortable as long as you know how to use the resources around you. Searching for drinking water, food, land, and navigating can also be quicker with the tips provided above.

Being aware of any precautionary measures you can take if you encounter sea predators can also be useful.

Lastly, remember not to lose hope and never give up when you find yourself stranded at sea.

Keep yourself calm and have a presence of mind. This way, you will know precisely what you must do to keep yourself safe while waiting for rescue or reaching land.

Tobias, a.k.a. The Geek Prepper, helps you prepare for any SHTF, big or small, natural or man-made, that could impact you and your family.

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