On October 19, 1952, the French physician and also biologist Alain Bombard visited sea alone in ras Palmas de Gran Canaria board an blow up Zodiac boat, v a sextant and also hardly any kind of provisions. V so few means, his objective seemed fully unreasonable—to cross the Atlantic Ocean. But he succeeded—65 job later, ~ above December 23, he got to land in Barbados, having actually lost 25 kilos, however alive, and also without suffering from serious health and wellness consequences; he would die in 2005 in ~ the respectable period of 80.

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Five years earlier, in 1947, Norwegian probe Thor Heyerdahl had actually led the Kon-Tiki expedition throughout the Pacific come prove that ancient peoples could have expanded across the s with primitive resources. yet unlike Heyerdahl, Bombard’s interest was no the thirst for adventure, but simply thirst, in its many literal and biological sense.

The Kon-Tiki voyage had proved that ancient navigators to be able to make it through in the s by hydrating themselves with fish juice and also drinking seawater combined with new water in a proportion of 2:3. Bombard had actually known of the deaths of numerous shipwrecked sailors while working as a physician in Boulogne-sur-Mer, but he was persuaded that the was not dehydration that eliminated them, however rather despair. Thus it was proposed to demonstrate that that was feasible to survive a shipwreck just with the resources easily accessible on the high seas, including salt water.

During his expedition in L’Hérétique, Bombard fed himself v plankton and raw fish. Source: Pinterest

After an intense period of examine at the Monaco Oceanographic Institute and also some former preparatory runs in the Mediterranean and Africa, Bombard had just enough time to return to Paris because that the bear of his first daughter, before facing the expedition where he would hazard his very own life to prove his theory.

The regime designed by Bombard consisted of feeding himself minimally v plankton—rich in vitamins—and raw fish. The most crucial need, hydration, would certainly be solved by squeezing the fluid from the fish and collecting rainwater, supplemented with little doses that seawater that did not exceed one litre a day—one tablespoon at intervals of 20 minutes, permitting the saliva to dilute the salt in the mouth.

The mad Doctor

The last was the many controversial facet of the experiment, something Bombard was conscious of when he called his boat L’Hérétique, the heretic. In his own country he to be branded Docteur Fou, the foolish Doctor. His contemporary, the German physician Hannes Lindemann, also a solitary navigator, doubted the veracity that the saltwater ingestion experiment as Bombard explained it in his publication Naufragé volontaire (Éditions de Paris, 1953). The Frenchman had a sealed emergency kit through provisions and water, however he to be not supposed to use it; only a couple of days prior to his arrival in Barbados he was aided through a ship, whereby they available him lunch.

There space stories of seafarers who had survived by drinking small amounts of seawater. Credit: Kalle2709

It has long been well-known that people cannot save themselves hydrated with salt water. Those who do die dehydrated after suffering a poisoning that makes them lose their mind. “Human kidneys deserve to only make urine that is much less salty 보다 salt water,” describes the united state Oceanic and Atmospheric administration (NOAA). Specifics the to pee reaches a maximum level of around 2% salt, if seawater is about 3.5%.

When us drink salt water, the salinity of ours blood increases and also the excess need to be expelled. “To eliminate all the overabundance salt taken in by drink seawater, you need to urinate more water than you drank,” continues NOAA. Specifics to reduced the salt indigenous one litre the seawater to 2%, the kidney demands to include 0.75 litres of human body water. “Eventually, you dice of dehydration also as you come to be thirstier.” once the body cannot eliminate excess sodium, there is one imbalance whose results on the organs, consisting of the concerned system, trigger the symptom that bring about coma and death.

Small amounts of seawater

In the 2nd World War, shipwrecks were plentiful and there were story of sailors who had survived by drinking little amounts the seawater. In 1943, the UK nationwide Hospital doctor W. S. S. Laddell published a research in The Lancet in which he experiment this possibility. Laddell found that “a guy in water debt continues to create 350-450 cc of urine a day.” yet in his experiments supplementing freshwater intake v salt water, Laddell discovered that “there was a slight obtain to the human body of water, because the extra water shed in the urine is much less than the extra water ingested as seawater.”

When we drink salt water, the salinity of our blood increases and also the excess have to be expelled. Credit: Pexels

Although Laddell himself added a keep in mind warning the the committee that had commissioned the examine to help shipwreck survivors in combat did no recommend drinking seawater, the reality is the Bombard’s thesis has actually not been definitively refuted. In 1987, a study with rats concluded that “when a man is stranded at sea, the is no advisable come drink all the new water and also then to it is in compelled come drink seawater when dehydrated.” Instead, researcher at Israel’s Ben-Gurion college recommend, “slowly increasing the seawater uptake” as soon as the survivor is still fine hydrated.

Current papers such together the US army Survival hand-operated FM 3-05.70 (FM 21-76) clearly advise no to drink seawater or urine in the event of a shipwreck. However, it does validate other concepts put into practice by Bombard, such together reducing food to the essential, since digestion spend water native the body.

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additionally one should take benefit of the juice the the fish, specifically the fluid of the eye and that bordering the spine, together these liquids are much less saline 보다 seawater. To minimize sweating, it is advisable to defend oneself indigenous the sun and to moisten and also wring the end one’s clothing.

Although this day there is no shortage of desalination or water evaporation system, Bombard’s legacy continues to assist castaways, at least in one independent element of the eternal conflict on saltwater intake. Follow to what the French seafarer Gérard d’Aboville wrote in Bombard’s obituary published in the Libération newspaper on July 20, 2005, the Mad medical professional “understood the it is very first and foremost hope that permits a survivor come survive, and he prove it.”