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Old 13-09-2009, 05:21   #1
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Surviving on Seawater

I remember sometime way back in the 70's on the Johnny Carson show (I think) there was a fella who sought to dispel an old myth and prove that a person could survive for an extended period of time drinking only seawater. He set himself adrift in the Atlantic with no provisions other than clothing, a life raft and some fishing line. He drank only seawater, ate only fish that he caught and plant life that accumulated on his boat and his clothing which he trailed behind him in the water. In these difficult cicumstances he managed to survive for 40 or so days before drifting to shore (France?). His point was, of course, that if you don't wait until your dying of thirst before you begin drinking seawater you can survive.

Am I remembering this correctly? If so, think of the ramifications!
I can only assume that this guy suffered some possible kidney problems and lost considerable weight but still amazing. Eric
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Old 13-09-2009, 05:41   #2
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Metabolic effects in rats drinking increasing concentrations of sea-water.

Etzion Z, Yagil R.

Research on laboratory rats confirmed that drinking sea-water when dehydrated, was not beneficial and caused impaired renal function. When the concentration of sea-water in the drinking water is gradually increased there is a gradual increase in water uptake and corresponding urine excretion. At 50% sea-water the maximum uptake and excretion is reached. Following this there is a decline in appetite, water uptake and urine secretion. When on 100% sea-water, the creatinine clearances were greater than on tap water, while urine/plasma osmolalities (U/P) averaged 7. The only higher U/P was found in animals drinking sea-water when dehydrated, i.e. a U/P of 11. The urea metabolism appears to be suited to either the need to conserve body water, up to 50% sea-water, or to guarantee an adequate urine production, from 50% sea-water to pure sea-water. It is suggested that when a man is stranded at sea it is not advisable to drink all the fresh water and then be compelled to drink sea-water when dehydrated. It is better to slowly increase the sea-water uptake. This will prolong the time before sea-water needs to be drunk and result in only minor metabolic changes. Return to fresh water will be followed by an immediate return to normal homeostasis.

PMID: 2881655 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Survival manuals consistently advise against drinking seawater. For example, the book "Medical Aspects of Harsh Environments" (Chapter 29 - Shipboard Medicine) [2] presents a summary of 163 life raft voyages. The risk of death was 39% for those who drank seawater, compared to only 3% for those who did not drink seawater. The effect of seawater intake has also been studied in laboratory settings in rats.[6]. This study confirmed the negative effects of drinking seawater when dehydrated.
The temptation to drink seawater has always been greatest for sailors who have expended their supply of fresh water, and are unable to capture enough rainwater for drinking. This frustration is described famously by a line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
"Water, water, everywhere,And all the boards did shrink;Water, water, everywhere,Nor any drop to drink." Although it is clear that a human cannot survive on seawater alone, some people claim that one can drink up to two cups a day, mixed with fresh water in a 2:3 ratio, without ill effect. The French physician Alain Bombard claimed to have survived an ocean crossing in a small raft using only seawater and other provisions harvested from the ocean, but the veracity of his findings was challenged. In Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl reported drinking seawater mixed with fresh in a 40/60% ratio. A few years later another adventurer named William Willis claimed to have drunk two cups of seawater and one cup of fresh per day for 70 days without ill effect when he lost part of his water supply. [7]
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Old 13-09-2009, 06:42   #3
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It beats drinking your own piddle.


Which beats drinking to other survivors'...........




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Old 13-09-2009, 07:47   #4
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I believe you are describing Dr. Bombard of the famed dinghy Bombard? Polynesians mixed saltwater with fresh when doing passages. I do not remember to what extent, or %........i2f
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Old 13-09-2009, 08:20   #5
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Using saline and foul water
When the water is first collected it might contain too much salt to be drinkable, but it could still be used to clean wounds, humidify lips and rinse the skin (especially where rashes, dryness and soreness have developed).
Foul water collected on a raft is usually safe to drink but because of the taste it might cause vomiting. To avoid vomiting is can be absorbed rectally by means of a water retention enema!
Another beneficial use of water enema: After a long period of dehydration (and diet)the stomach shrinks and can’t hold much water. During a strong rain storm, if you don’t have much container to store water, you want to fill yourself up. You can absorb up to one pint rectally.
In case of severe dehydration the body will more quickly be hydrated with an enema. It is a method that has saved knowledgeable survivors. But careful not to use salt water (sea water is as dangerous absorbed rectally as it is orally).

OMG! Since I don't usually carry an enema bag around with me and I can think of only one way to get the "water" into a person. I would think that you and your buddy on the liferaft would be quite good friends after that. heh heh.
Sailing anyone? heh heh Eric
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Old 13-09-2009, 08:34   #6
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Originally Posted by virginia boy View Post
............. I would think that you and your buddy on the liferaft would be quite good friends after that. heh heh.[/SIZE]
Sailing anyone? heh heh Eric
[/INDENT]
Everything is legal after 7 days at sea .
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Old 13-09-2009, 08:38   #7
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On drinking your own urine, pure seawater and dying of kidney failure...
There are other things worse than a quick death. Unfortunately I have seen too many of them.
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Old 14-09-2009, 13:15   #8
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It beats drinking your own piddle.
Which beats drinking to other survivors'...........
, but seriously, would drinking piddle (assuming it means what I think it does), increase your chances of survival, at least for
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Old 14-09-2009, 14:05   #9
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Alain Bombard - Telegraph

I believe drinking urine in Africa for days on end was like eating peyote to the American Indians.........i2f
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Old 14-09-2009, 14:58   #10
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If I remember correctly, they determined you could drink 1/2 cup of sea water a day for fluid intake, depending on the salinity. The pacific is more salty then the Altantic (or the other way around). But you must restrict all other salt intake. William Wallis and Bombard were pioneers in using alternative drinking water. Great book that covers this is "Seaworthy" sorry don't remember the author but it is about the golden age of rafting, very good book.
Though I am sure this doesn't need to be said but will say it anyways - Pee would never be good, ever.
Lets hope none of us will ever have to resort to drinking seawater.
Cheers,
Erika
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Old 14-09-2009, 14:59   #11
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best option for survival is to distill it.
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Old 14-09-2009, 16:18   #12
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Your own piss is supposedly sterile/safe for you to drink as far as disease. A while back some guru in Hollywood was advocating drinking your own piss as a consciousness raising experience. Just to prove that there is no limit to stupidity in Hollywood, he actually had some adherents amoung the famous. The problem with drinking your own piss is surely the level of electrolytes in it. Haven't tried drinking piss but hear it's salty. The concentration of salt and the intake of freshwater would be crucial to trying it.

So if you are marooned with a limited water supply drink 2 parts piss to 3 parts fresh water and you'd probably stretch your fresh water and your survival to the maximum.
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Old 14-09-2009, 16:31   #13
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Seawater or peewater

Exactly the reason I have included the manual watermaker in my ditch gear.
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Old 15-09-2009, 04:11   #14
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Although urine, fresh from the kidneys, is sterile (unless the individual has a kidney infection), it can become infected with bacteria or yeast in the presence of a urinary tract infection. Bacteria are normally present in the lower urethra and external genitalia.

Urine should not be drunk when one is dehydrated. The kidneys, which filter the urine, concentrate salts into the urine. Drinking the urine will only make one reingest the salts that have already been excreted by the kidneys.

There may be some efficacy in drinking diluted urine (mid-flow, clean catch), to extend your fresh water supply, prior to the onset of dehydration.
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Old 15-09-2009, 05:28   #15
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If you are in this situation, I understand that you should not eat or drink in the first 24 hours, and this wil initiate a physiological change that will allow the body to better retain fluids.
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