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Survive the Savage Sea

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  471 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
After their 43ft schooner was stove in by a pod of killer whales, the six members of the Robertson family spent 37 days adrift in the Pacific. With no maps, compass or navigation instruments and rations for only 3 days.
Published by Sheridan House (first published 1973)
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Bart Breen
May 24, 2012 Bart Breen rated it it was amazing
Inspiring with a Message

There are books that stand out in a person's life. This is such a book for me.

I read this book back in the 1970's as a teenager. The story, images and lessons from it still stand out in my mind years later. That is a measure of the impact that it had on me and may have on others. I wasn't aware then how deep that went. Years later I am able to recount a great deal from that read despite the intervening time. That is a measure of its impact and the vivid nature of the imag
A Jaff
Jun 05, 2014 A Jaff rated it it was amazing
I am maybe not qualified to review this book as the author is my father, but that should not detract from the fact that this is a powerful story, and an inspiration to many wether they are seafarers or not. A diluted version has been a part of national curriculum english studies in many countries including USA and Australia. There was a film made for television, and The National Geographic did a docudrama, and other TV stations did programmes over the years.
It is one of the greatest survival ep
May 13, 2016 Trin rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure, 1970s
The true story of a family—father (the author), mother, adult son, twin 12-year-old boys, and a twentysomething friend of theirs—who escaped their sinking yacht and then survived for 37 days on the open ocean. Thirty-seven days. This is as harrowing as you would imagine, and Robertson discusses it all with an amazing, almost-flat, frankness. Down to details like the necessity of turtle oil enemas, so if you're at all squeamish, I recommend staying away. ;-) Though of course, this book played int ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Simon rated it it was amazing
I have read this book more than 15 times now. Sometimes, in between reading other books I will pick it up and read it again. Why?, I don't know. There is just something about the book that I enjoy. I can say no more than that !!
Ramsey Hootman
Apr 19, 2012 Ramsey Hootman rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest survival stories of all time. This is a re-read; my mother actually read it to me when I was a child of about 8 or so. Recently I was searching for something to do while sitting up with my toddler, and I had stashed this away with several other books I plan to read to him once he's old enough to understand. What was intended to be a quick flip through instantly turned into a "MUST READ NOW." I recalled the broad outlines of the account, but had not remembered how incredibly g ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Josh rated it liked it
There's a wide gulf between the terror, hunger, and thirst Robertson family experienced at sea and the pleasant time I had reading this book. That may be because the author chose to tell this tale without suspense or any narrative gimmicks. Instead this is just a day by day by day, repeat 38 times, account of surviving at sea in a raft and dinghy. My safe life on solid ground is so full of choices every day, too many inputs, and too many things to do (or that I think I have to do), that I found ...more
Jul 23, 2009 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
A singular book--only a Scottish-farmer/master seaman/stoic lost at sea with his entire family could have survived and then reflected upon his feat in the restrained style and grand manner he dusts off for this. The captain/chief castaway/author comes across as both the one guy you would want to get stuck out to sea with and the one guy you'd never in a million years want to get stuck out to sea with.

This book also points out how quickly the world changes. Survive 38 days lost at sea in 1972 and
Dec 09, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
We met one of the young boys outside his Staffordshire farm some years later. His red setter had had pups and we wanted one. He invited us in for tea. A quiet, gentle boy who made quite an impression on us. It was only when we told my cousin that he said "Oh they're famous, they are."
I remember years before reading the story as I delivered papers up in Cumbria. Years later I was given an extract to teach as a reading exercise with a class. I don't remember how they did as a comprehension but it
Jessica Murphy
Apr 26, 2013 Jessica Murphy rated it really liked it
Good adventure/survival story. Thanks to this book, I still think about turtle eggs and coffee enemas whenever I'm in a boat!
Awe, amazement and rapt fascination were my reactions to the trials this family experienced, as told in this true story, written by the father of the family.

During the Robertson family's planned circumnavigation of the earth in 1972, their sailboat was rammed by killer whales a hundred miles off the Galapagos. The boat took one minute to sink.

All six of the crew on board--mother, father, 18-year-old son, 12-year-old twins, and a college-age family friend--made it into the inflatable life raft,
Deborah Ideiosepius  omnivorous reader
This book records the staggering adventure of the Robertson family (and guest) who, in 1972, had their 43-foot schooner sunk in the pacific after being struck by killer whales. The family of five and the young man crewing for them then survived an astonishing 38 days in a leaking inflatable raft and a tiny dinghy. As sea yarns go this is almost unbelievable and had it been a work of fiction I would probably have passed it by as too unlikely.

This story, written by Dougal the husband, the father a
Michelle O'flynn
Oct 24, 2010 Michelle O'flynn rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for any sailors who plan to venture further than their coastline. A true story of survival and ingenious ways to stay alive despite the odds. Dougal Robertson was a former teacher, his wife a former nurse and their skills saved the lives of their twin boys, older teenage son, their deckhand and themselves.

What do you do when three killer whales hull your boat and it sinks within less than a minute? How do you battle thirst, hunger, sharks and stay alive for weeks at a time, a
Jun 19, 2015 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gripping story. Much admiration for the author who had amazing practical skills to keep all six alive, as well as the mother who had such helpful nursing knowledge. The story starts quickly, with little introduction, and very soon descrbes them in the raft, coming to grips with their situation. Even though it is written in the form of recording each day's events, like a diary, it didn't become monotonous, even when mostly taken up with yet another turtle being slaughtered for its meat, and hop ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Julia rated it liked it
Survive the Savage Sea is a story of the author's experiences surviving at sea with his family when his yacht sunk in the Pacific Ocean on June 15th, 1972. With his wife, his three sons and a student they'd taken onboard, Dougal Robertson has to fight his way in an environment that has had hundreds of years to adapt.
The tale is told in striking detail and with brutal honesty that leaves the reader absolutely no room to doubt the authenticity. As you read, you find it hard to believe that so much
John Wiswell
Aug 11, 2007 John Wiswell rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Survival readers, nature readers
A true story of survival follows how Robertson and his family survived having their boat destroyed in the middle of the ocean, with no radio and almost no supplies. Disengagingly formal and even a little sexist, you still can't deny that what they went through was amazing. Robertson points out how they fished, hunted and collected drinking water (including what sea creatures' blood was drinkable) adrift, hundreds of miles from land. Survive the Savage Sea is so formal because it's trying to impa ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing
In June 1972, the Robertson's boat was attacked by killer whales and sank in 60 seconds. The six members of this family survive 37 days adrift in the Pacific, first in a rubber raft and then a fiberglass dingy. Without charts, compass, and with only 3 days worth of rations, they manage against 20 foot waves, sharks, thirst and starvation.

When I finished ADRIFT, I was on a hunt for more sea stories, so someone gave me this one to read. This certainly satisfied my interest, proving to be another c
Linda B.D.
Oct 06, 2015 Linda B.D. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Great book! True story. Also a movie was made from this, but the movie was not as good as the book. The movie left out many details. It is the true story of a family & one deck hand that took a summer vacation on their boat. It tells of the horrible tragedies that occurred such as: starvation, loneliness, isolation, worry, and disease. This is a fast paced novel that has gripping problems at every turn- it really captivates the reader on the first few pages. I've had this book for many years ...more
Feb 26, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it
This book was interesting; I ended up liking it more than I thought I would when I started it. The tone in the beginning seemed too light and optimistic given the circumstances. I also struggled with the idea of children being in such a dire situation. I ended up having a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for everyone in the craft, since they worked together so well. The leadership on the raft must have been fantastic for everyone to have held up so well. I also like that the author in ...more
Dec 23, 2012 Kenno82 rated it really liked it
The amazing story of a family's 38 day survival on the 'savage seas' following a collision with a pod of killer whales. As luck would have it, the author was a qualified merchant seaman and his wife a qualified nurse. The author's account wastes little time on character development, throwing the reader almost immediately into the family's predicament. The family's spirit, discipline and ingenuity with little resources is remarkable. Every detail of the family's struggle is evoked with gritty rea ...more
Aug 10, 2011 William rated it it was amazing
A family heads out for a round-the-world sea voyage, encounters a shipwreck at the hands (fins?) of a killer whale, and lives on a raft for 40 days. No maps or tools or communications gear. The adventures are told with a nice pace, and the long nights and days are recounted such that you share their boredom and patience. I was struck with how ruthless the father forced himself to become in order to guarantee his family's survival. It cost the marriage, and I salute his willingness to sacrifice e ...more
Ian Chapman
May 01, 2012 Ian Chapman rated it it was amazing
An excellent true story of a 1970s family and a friend surviving shipwreck in the Pacific. The author was the skipper father, a middle-aged man with experience as a Merchant Navy officer. Their sailing yacht was sunk by killer whales, possibly mistaking the hull for a grey whale. They then spent weeks in a liferaft and small dinghy. Much detail on fishing and hunting turtles, and on drying meat.

The description of the small Japanese deep-sea fishing vessel turning to rescue them, with a corkscrew
Apr 16, 2009 Allan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
The story of Dougal Robertson, his family, and a crewmate as they survive 38 days at sea following the destruction of their sailing vessel. Well written and a fast read.

Compared to Steven Callahan's account of survival at sea, this is the better book. Written in a more straightforward manner.

Had Dougal not survived the sinking of the ship it is clear that the rest would not have survived without him.
Jun 29, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
This was one of my 900 finds. (Our book group sometimes just assigns numbers from the library and you have to find a book in that group of numbers) It was a little on the technical side, me being a land-lubber, but the story was gripping. Having read The Secret of The Sea, I was glad to know ahead of time that everything turned out ok, but it was still suspenseful. A family, sailing around the world, has their boat sunk by killer whales and survive for 38 days in a small raft and dinghy.
Jun 12, 2015 Derek rated it really liked it
Inclusion of a glossary was welcome, but it was entirely incomplete for defining everything going on at sea. The events from Day 17 alone contained more unknown terms than there were defined terms in the whole glossary.

I particularly appreciated the diplomatic interpretation of the frustrating behavior of the one non-family member and the aside about the Miami newspapers' attitude toward the ordeal was especially interesting.
Nate Rooney
Apr 20, 2015 Nate Rooney rated it liked it
Shelves: disasters
Dougal Robertson's story of how his family (plus one) survived their disastrous trip across the Pacific is an inspiring tale, if seemingly a little self glorifying. Dougal is the clear hero of this journey, and if his family hadn't confirmed his heroics, I would find several parts hard to believe. He can be forgiven for the dryness of his tale, as sailors don't necessarily make great authors. However, it still subtracts from its enjoyability.
May 21, 2012 Shannon rated it it was amazing
I read this in my teens, after my parents read it, and I swear, if you get caught out there someday, somewhere, you will remember at least one of the situations in this book that might prolong or save your life. His writing puts you right there in the boat with them, visually and emotionally experiencing the words on the page.
Debbie Steiner
Dec 08, 2014 Debbie Steiner rated it liked it
A true story of real people clinging to life, lost for weeks on the ocean. Some of my friends find the repeated actions boring, for the one getting into the story & feeling with the shipwrecked family, it's not.The captains approach & knowledge contributes to saving their life. Practical, down-to-earth (or sea) philosophy that proved itself in the hardest of tests
Apr 02, 2012 Trebor rated it really liked it
A well documented journal of being castaways. With everything against them, survival was the only thought. I've had nightmares about this type of situation. Can you imagine six people adrift in a twelve foot dingy in the Pacific Ocean for thirty eight days............unbelievable but true. No cannibalism here, just luck, intelligence and discipline!
May 25, 2010 Natasha rated it liked it
Someone left this book at my husband's family cottage when he was growing up. He read it as a kid and loved the story, especially the descriptions of how tools were made and survival was achieved. He re-read the book this February and wanted me to read it. I'd been putting it off, but have to say that I really enjoyed it...despite the turtle oil enemas.
Nov 15, 2009 Nolan rated it liked it
It seemed like a good idea at the time--to take the kids out of school and do a hue sailing trip. That's exactly what Robertson and his family did back in the 70s. When a whale destroys the boat, the family is stranded for more than a month in the Pacific. This is a thoughtful true adventure that will stay with you long after you've closed the back cover.
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