How To!

How To Survive in the Wild Part 2

I was lost at sea for 438 days on a small boat. Here’s how I lived to tell the tale.


Episode Notes

Imagine you’re floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a boat the size of an SUV. You have no working electronics, no food or water, and only a styrofoam box to shade you from the sun. Your only companion is a 22-year-old who has little seafaring experience. How would you survive? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Jonathan Franklin, author of 438 Days, to tell us the incredible story of José Salvador Alvarenga, a shark fisherman who survived at sea for over 14 months. Jonathan says that Alvarenga was a pro at being resourceful—surviving on bird meat, shark livers, and sea turtle blood—but the real key to his survival was mental. For much of his journey, Alvarenga took care of his younger companion, Jonathan says, and it was this caregiving motivation more than anything else that kept Alvarenga alive.

If you liked this episode, check out the first episode in our two-part series: “How To Survive in the Wild Part 1.”

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Podcast production by Derek John, Rachael Allen, and Rosemary Belson.


About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, Amanda Ripley and Carvell Wallace take on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, find the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

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