Lost At Sea

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Maritime Mishaps

This week, Joe, Kevin, and Toren look at getting stuck out on the open ocean. We’ll cover the several dangers of being lost at sea, as well as tales of survivors of some of the longest (and grossest) “unplanned extended ocean vacations” such as the Baileys, amazing survivor Poon-Lim, and the Robertson family. In The News we’ve got a religious family set adrift and a survivor found in a capsized tugboat 98 feet underwater!

Correction: Joe was wrong, tigers love water.

Music: “Night On The Water” by Helen Ward




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29 Responses

  1. Haven’t listened yet, I’m saving it for this evening, but had to say… Hooray for season 5!!

  2. A great episode but one nitpick and one addendum. The nitpick is I can’t believe you repeated the ‘you lose most heat through your head’ myth! It’s been debunked (http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/dec/17/medicalresearch-humanbehaviour) and really doesn’t make sense if you think about it for any length of time (if you lost most heat through your head then going naked except for a hat would keep you warm which is patently wrong).

    The addendum is regarding the Baileys. You mentioned the article by Captain Shu but didn’t say anything about the book the Bailey’s wrote. It’s quite short and is a fantastic read. It’s called “117 Days Adrift” and is written from both their points of view separately rather than a joint account so you can see the differing perspectives of their ordeal.

    I can’t wait for the other episodes in the series!

  3. Pop culture:

    “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (both the book and the Val Kilmer movie) opens with the protagonist lost at sea in a lifeboat. It’s not crucial to the story, though, except as a device for getting the character into the uncharted waters where he’d then encounter Brando and his posse. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5-u486LjyU#t=2m40s

    In the news:

    Not quite the same topic, semantically speaking, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the episode title was Jon Ronson’s book of the same name. The article which lent its title to the book was about people disappearing overboard from cruise ships: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/nov/11/rebecca-coriam-lost-at-sea

    1. I had thought about mentioning The Island of Dr Moreau – loved the Michael York version as a young man (and am planning to watch 1932’s Island of Lost Souls) but yeah the story isn’t about the journey on the raft or whatever so I skipped it. For disappearing overboard from cruise ships see our Cruise Ships episode! Thanks for the comment

  4. In The Life of Pi — the Tiger IS the narrator. The Zebra was also the friendly Chinese man he met in the galley, the Hyena was the cook, and the Orangutan was his mother. They were all on the lifeboat and the cook mirdered the other two and Pi ended up killing him. The ‘magical island’ is not literal either, though there is debate as to what it symbolizes. Richard Parker was the killer inside himself that he preferred to disassociate with because the fact he was capable of such things upset him so much.

    The entire story was a reimagining of his traumatic experience at sea. Because of his pacifism and gentleness the fact he killed a man after seeing him kill two other people was the ugly reality he was rejecting — the story really DID happen, but he chooses to tell a more magical version rather than the facts. He says as much to the two Japanese investigators when he’s recuperating after being rescued — they ask what ‘really’ happened and he tells them and they admit the reality was more horrific than his first story.

    1. The entire philosophy of Pi’s worldview is ‘Something can be true without being literal’. It’s why he’s 5 different religions at the same time without seeing any contradiction.

    2. I can’t imagine myself caring enough about the characters in that movie to bother trying to work all that out. Looked nice though.

      1. I think that by the time his story was explained for what it really was, some people were already bored and had stopped paying attention. =P

        1. Maybe it’s more clear in the book, but that was not self-evident in the movie at all….. Thanks for clearing that up!

          1. I agree in that I think the book is a) much more caustic, and b) the lines between what the reader is meant to accept as reality and fantasy are a little clearer. I enjoyed the film for the visuals and thought it’d be an interesting read (especially since I had a friend who vowed _not_ to see the film _because_ she loved the book so much), so I did the next best thing and listened to the audiobook, and it really was fabulous. The narrator had a very Indian accent too, which helped a great deal with the telling.

  5. I was shocked when I heard this tragic story. Epic fail:

    Aircraft carrier left us to die, say migrants


    “A boat carrying 72 passengers, including several women, young children and political refugees, ran into trouble in late March after leaving Tripoli for the Italian island of Lampedusa. Despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a warship, no rescue effort was attempted.”

  6. The recent film All is Lost has Robert Redford lost at sea after his yaght collides with a shipping container.

    1. I haven’t seen the movie but as a former yacht crew I can say that shipping containers that lie partially submerged, just under the surface are not uncommon and the source of a number of collisions and sinkings. Not usually visible on radar.

  7. Guys, I think you totally missed the point of the Robertson family. When the son asked, “Why can’t we just sail around the world”, the parents realized he was too dumb to understand the explanation, so they just showed him.

    “See, son, this is why you can’t just sail around the world: you end up adrift, with a piece of ladder up your ass.”

  8. When you spent all that time at the beginning talking about being lost at see without a raft, I thought you’d mention Tom and Eileen Lonergan. They were scuba diving in the Coral Sea, the dive boat left without them, nobody noticed they weren’t on board and nobody figured out they were missing until somebody found some of their stuff in a bag on the boat. Big search, yaddayaddayadda, never found, presumed drowned.

    The movie Open Water was based on what happened, though names were changed (and the movie happens in the Caribbean instead of the south Pacific) and of course anything that’s shown after the boat takes off is pure speculation.

    I saw part of the movie – it was on TV but I couldn’t stomach it for more than a few minutes at a time and I kept switching to whatever else was on. Harrowing and terrifying. So of course it’s Caustic!

  9. Pop-culture: An awesome little short film about two boys who are obsessed with a comic called Raftman, the main character of which is a guy lost at sea. Definitely worth a watch! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivY2YkM9z3g
    Also, The Man of Law’s Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales revolves around a character who is lost at sea twice, and survives by the grace of Christ.

  10. Surprised (unless I went to sleep and missed it) that you didn’t mention the Rose Noelle
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Noelle). While lost at sea for 119 days, possibly not caustic enough as no one got eaten by sharks, or each other…

    As the only time I get to listen to the podcast these days is around 11PM, it’s entirely possible I went to sleep and missed it 🙂

  11. One aspect I was a bit disappointed you didn’t cover in more detail was the psychological effect of being lost at sea, having no idea whether you’ll ever see anyone else again, let alone be rescued and see your own family and friends again. I think it would be particularly horrifying, especially as the tedium sets in (and this is one of the things that was picked up in the Life of Pi book – the guy had a whole routine of things to do to keep him busy, mostly read from a little “How to survive at sea” book). Gives me the willies anyway.

    It’d make a good Lesser of Two Evils, if you really sit back and consider the horror of whiling away months at sea eating raw fish and seabirds.

    1. Great follow-up! That’s seriously caustic! I’m kinda glad the Wikipedia page didn’t mention what happened to the one woman on the raft. :/

  12. The Gastonguay folks had a genoa sail for a jib. This is the sail at the front of the sail boat and can make the boat go really really fast. In a storm, the genoa is useless, even a hazard, because the force of the wind can easily tear the mast off. The mast is where the radio antenna is. Without it, your radio range is greatly reduced. If this family had any brains, they would have gotten a better, more seaworthy boat to make the trip. They narrowly avoided winning last year’s Darwin awards, as they would have died along with all their kids, leaving no one behind to pass on the stupid gene they obviously carried.

    The Gastonguays are an example of how extremism can put whole families in danger. Unfortunately, upon their return to the US, the child protection authorities did not charge the mother/father for child endangerment, which they should have. I’m sure they enjoyed all the publicity they received and are coming up with some other hairbrained scheme to endanger their kids. Here’s a great article about it: http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/kompbrlaintbrdeptbra-mindless-leap-of-faith

    1. Wow. If I hadn’t been convinced to never go to sea in anything short of a floating city, then I certainly have been now. Pretty impressive. Certainly gave me the heebie jeebies! Nice find.