First posted April 23, 2008
I just ended up on an uninhabited island. My sail boat was blown off course. Way off course. I’m lost. I’m alone. My boat crashed and drifted away. The only thing I managed to salvage was a book that I had in my jacket pocket. I could only wish that it had been Robinson Crusoe. That’s a book with a lot of practical advice for someone stranded on a lonely island. What I do have instead is that Worst-Case Scenario book that has already gotten me into some interesting situations. It even got me out of some. Maybe that will help me here. I’m almost afraid to look. Okay, here goes.
Here’s a section on how to survive in a jungle. Well, some of this island looks pretty heavily wooded. Maybe there’s something here to help me. Find a river, make a raft and let the current carry me downstream. I don’t think so. I’ve been carried about in the water just as much as I can tolerate right now. Being buffeted around in a sail boat was bad enough. I’m not about to try it on a makeshift raft that will probably fall apart not long after it hits water. I’m not exactly a carpenter. Heck, I’m not even a DIY person. I’m a person who sits in front of a computer and writes. I could throw words at those two pieces of tarp (which I don’t happen to have), green brush, two large saplings and vines all day and they aren’t going to arrange themselves into a nice little raft. Just wondering how I’m supposed to bring down those saplings. I didn’t bring my chainsaw with me when I decided to take this nice little afternoon sail. Maybe I’m supposed to uproot them.
I like the next section better. It’s going to tell me how to find food and water. It’s been a long time since breakfast. If I don’t have the means to purify water (I don’t), then I’m supposed to find water vines (what’s that?) or banana trees. I then proceed to either cut sections from the vines or cut down that tree with my imaginary axe. I’m to drink water from rivers and streams only as a last resort when dehydrated and death is a certainty. Wow! I love this next sentence. “Diarrhea will most likely result, so increase your water intake and keep moving.” If I have diarrhea, I don’t think I’ll have any choice. My body will keep moving!
Next I’m told if I cannot peel it or cook it, don’t eat it. Naturally, the book then goes on to tell me to eat insects, grubs and raw fish. I can’t peel them and they obviously haven’t been cooked or they wouldn’t be raw. I do get to pinch the heads off first. I think I’m losing my appetite. I’ve got to get out of this jungle.
I can find my way out of this without a compass. I can use the stick and shadow method. I also need to put my watch on the ground and line up the hour hand with the stick. I don’t think this will work since my watch wasn’t waterproof. If I’d paid more attention in some of my classes, I would know about the North Star or the Southern Cross and be able to use basic astrometry . Or if it quits raining so hard I can tell which way the clouds are moving. They generally move from west to east. Don’t you like that word “generally”? Most people going out for a little sail generally don’t end up on a deserted island. What are the odds that my clouds will be going the general direction? Then there’s the good ole moss method. Hey, I was in scouts for 12 years. I know that moss grows on the north side of trees and rocks. I know which direction I am going. Or maybe not. This book has the nerve to tell me that this method is not infallible.
It’s dark and I’m tired. I can’t deal with this much longer. I’m never stepping foot on a sail boat again. All I want to do is lie down and sleep for awhile. I’m going to pile up a bunch of brush over there under that little overhang and take a nap. I’ll have to read the rest of this book later. So far today, I’ve learned a bunch of things to do to survive, but haven’t been able to do them. Maybe when I wake up. I hope there aren’t any wild animals roaming around this place. Right now I’m just too wiped out to care. I’ll take you with me when I wake up and get moving again.