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boat stranded in middle of ocean

How to survive on your boat when stranded in the middle of the ocean?

on December 23, 2020

Stranded at sea can be extremely stressful and dangerous! Learn some basic sea survival tips, "it is better to be prepared for the open sea; knowledge is power!

open ocean, sea survival

How to survive on your boat when stranded in the middle of the ocean?

Sailing into the sunset or planning a cross-ocean sail? Being on the water brings great pleasure and relaxation; however, what if you get stranded in the middle of the ocean? How will you survive? How do you get stranded in the first place? For all questions that need answers, this blog will cover it all, but most importantly, the survival tips and survival gear!

 open sea, stranded at sea

The most important part about survival is having survival gear or emergency supplies on board! When you have all your safety equipment abroad, you will be better off; the rescue teams will be on their way once you used your FastFind 220 PLB - Personal Locator Beacon

Being stranded is scary, terrifying, and stressful; you feel trapped and alone; during some period of time, you will lose hope, but the hope is what keeps us going, so don’t worry, you will get it back. This takes a toll on any person and affects your mental health. 

How do you get stranded in the middle of the ocean?

There are many reasons, and some might even sound ridiculous, or you would think that will never happen to me, but you will be surprised as to how often this happens. Keep in mind that survival situations rarely last for more than 4 days.

Engine stops working

This will not be a problem; however, if your boat operates on an engine, only consider yourself stranded. However, this is not a major issue, call it in over the radio, and you will get the help you need.

Running out of gas: This sounds crazy, but this is actually very common; most of the time, you will laugh about this, although at the moment, you might think, how on earth did I get that right?
Capsized Boat, Bad weather conditions, causing damage to your boat or even capsizing. The abandoned ship is another reason and definitely the worst; your only survival if an abandoned ship is a life raft and life jacket.

 Most situations are manageable, you can call it in over the radio, and the rescue team will be on their way. Heavy storms can cause more serious problems, but whenever you see a storm approaching take immediate action, notify the coast guard of your situation and your location.

How to survive being stranded in the middle of the ocean on your boat?


  • Stop, Think, and Observe; you need to get yourself together, take a couple of minutes to relax and breathe, observe the area and your surroundings, think about survival.
  • If you are injured, first try to attend to your injuries. 
  • Find food & water supply, whatever you can find on the boat, bring it all together, and put it in a secure place.
  • Find shelter; the Sun can be very damaging to your body, dehydration, loss of energy, so you want to avoid being in the direct Sun.
  • Grab what you can, any essential you can find on your boat, bring it together, and secure it in a safe place. You won’t think about cream at this point, but if you can find some, take it; you will need it.
  • Collect empty bottles and buckets to collect rainwater and prepare this for when the rain comes.
  • Find whatever safety equipment you can, life jackets, immersion suits, buoys, flares, flashlights; you will find these items in the grab and go bag, along with a first aid kit.

food source, stranded at sea,Now that you have put together a shelter and collected all the necessary items you need to survive, your surviving journey starts. Since you do not know how long you will be stranded on your boat, you need to consume food and water but just the right amount so that you don’t run out quickly.

 life raft, sea water, life raft

Daily Survival techniques. 

Fresh Water

Your body can survive without water for up to three days, so if you managed to find water stored on your boat, start calculating how much you have and how long it will last you, drink a little bit every day. 

Drinking water is vital, so make sure you are drinking water every day, even a little bit.

As soon as you see the weather approaching and you expect rain, it would be best to collect all the rainwater to have drinkable water. 

Being in the heat, without water supply, and surrounded by the ocean, it can be very tempting to drink from the ocean; however, you should avoid this as the salty water causes your body to dehydrate, so do not drink seawater.

In a final attempt, people will drink their own urine, but is this safe? No, it is not; instead of rehydrating, it will dehydrate you at a faster rate. However, many people who survived being stranded did at one point drink their own urine.

collect water, catch rainwater, cold water


If you managed to find canned food or any food on your boat, you need to eat small amounts every day. According to a “Healthline” article, the body can survive without food for eight to twenty-one days, and that a woman’s body can withstand starvation for longer; however, do not starve yourself based on this information. 

canned food

Finding food in the ocean can be a difficult task or a task that requires some skill; the ocean is filled with fish, which is a great source of food. Catching fish can help you a lot; you might not have the right fishing gear on hand, but never give up; there will be a time where you struggle but don’t lose hope and keep on trying. 

  • Eat a small amount of food every day. 
  • Try to build a weapon with any material you can find to catch some fish in the ocean; you need a sharp point shaped like a blade. If you have a knife, you can use that, as the shining aluminum will attract fish. 
  • When you dive into the ocean to try and catch some fish, find a rope, tie it around your body and tie the rope to the boat; this way, you will not drift away from your boat.
  • Try to collect seaweed, as you might find crab or prawns on them.
  • If you have a rope, try to build a net, another way to try and catch fish.
  • Seabirds, try to catch seabirds, you can skin them eat them, and you can use the leftovers as bait to catch fish. 

small fish, food sources, pacific ocean, coral reefs, lost at sea, spear gun

Signs of land

Check your surroundings every day; you might see signs of land.

  • Birds are a sign of land; nearby during the day, the birds look for food, later, they will head home, so if you see birds wait until they leave and take note of the direction they go so that you can follow in that direction.
  • The deep sea is dark, so when you find yourself in water becoming lighter and lighter, it means the water becomes shallower, meaning land nearby.
  • The wind blows toward land during the day and toward the sea at night; keep track of wind direction during daytime. (For direction, you can look at the waves or use a shirt to hold it in the air or a piece of paper to see the direction of the wind.)
  • Clouds often gather over coral islands and reefs. 
  • Warm waters can also be a sign of shallower water, meaning you are getting close to land.


find land, reaching land, rough water, calm water, salt water


  • Always have your flare gun, flashlight ready; if you see a boat not too far from you, you can signal them, or maybe an airplane. Always be on the lookout for passing ships; they are big and can sometimes go past without seeing you.
  • Try to stay focused; it is easy to lose your mind out there. 
  • Keep yourself busy, searching for food.
  • Make time to rest; do not use all your energy.
  • Avoid dehydration, stay out of the sun, and drink water.
  • Keep thinking about survival, and think about family and friends; you need to find the strength to keep your survival going.
  • If you can find a fishing line or any fishing equipment, this will help you greatly in your daily task.
  • Avoid drinking from the ocean! Where a life vest can help you stay warm during the night.

setting sail, lost at sea, stranded at sea, stay afloat

Navigation Tips

  • The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West Navigate using stars 6 Ways to Navigate by the Stars - wikiHow
  • If you have a watch, using it as a compass will be helpful; knowing East and West by looking at the Sun, you can connect it to time example, East is equal to 15:00 on my watch. 


 compass and clock collage image

 If you find yourself in an emergency, you will go into survival mode; having information like survival skills, survival tips can come in handy; staying calm seems impossible, but you have to try not to panic as this takes up a lot of energy and you will need all the energy in the days coming!

Every day will feel like a week because you are in a situation you do not want to be in; time feels slow! Everything you do will feel different.

Fishing will feel different because you feel exhausted, your mind is constantly thinking, the nerves the tension you feel will drain you of energy, and just the thought of how important it is to catch a fish so that you eat, will make you feel nervous and stressed, and the struggle to find fish or to actually catch it, will make you feel hopeless.

This is the reality; it sounds harsh and definitely is! It is crucial not to lose hope; you have to keep trying, take a couple of minutes, breathe in and out, and try again. Stay focused, take breaks, get some rest, and keep on trying; survival requires you to keep trying; giving up is not part of survival; every time you feel like giving up, take a break and regain your focus!

If you are planning a cross-ocean sail, always prepare for any situation: Your survival kit Preparation.

  • Make sure you take plenty of canned food
  • Bottles and Bottles of drinking water
  • First aid kit
  • Signaling device
  • Matches in case you need to make a fire
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Life vests
  • Cream - When the sun is shining on you every day, and you take a dive into the sea to find food, the saltwater can dry out your skin, and after a couple of days with no cream, your skin will dry out completely.
  • Plastic bags, or extra sails, anything that you can use to build shelter
  • Rain jackets, long sleeve clothes - protect your skin from the some and protect you against cold nights.
  • You need a grab bag where all your survival supplies are stored, so when you need to access it quickly, you have to grab one bag filled with your emergency supplies. Every crew member should know about the location of this bag.

The sea is beautiful, and a place where we can enjoy ourselves! We have to prepare for anything and everything! Do you find these tips helpful? Have you ever been stranded? Drop a comment below!

Survival situations are categorized into 3 groups: 99% of the time, survival situations are short-term; in sporadic cases, you will be the medium case!

Short Term: One to four days

Medium Term: Four to Forty days

Long term: More than Forty days

How long can you survive in the ocean with a boat?

If you have all the right supplies, food, water, and shelter you can

survive for a long time! Daily food intake and water intake.

 How do you survive dehydration at sea?

Find shelter, avoid being in direct sunlight, daily intake freshwater, and not a drop of seawater!

We care about you! Survival tips with your number one marine dealership, Sail Boat Accessories Supply Store| Marin Supply Store Near Me (


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