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ALONE IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
In 1951 a young French doctor, Alain Bombard, remarked that shipwrecked men who found themselves afloat at sea without food or fresh water should be alive for a long time. They would live on the sea and its contents by eating raw fish and its juice. Planktons would prevent scurvy by providing Vitamin C. Dr Bombard decided to prove that he was right. Ile planned to put to sea in an air-filled rubber dinghy with a three-foot-square sail. This was the kind of raft on which a man might really find himself alone on the ocean after a shipwreck. The journey started from Las Palmas on a little raft named ‘L’ Heretique on October 18.
No sooner had he done so when he ran into trouble. First, a wave swept over the raft. The next day, the wind tore his sail. For the first two to three days he had no luck in catching fish and had nothing to drink but sea-water. He became depressed and feared failure in this test. As he became more hungry, he also became more determined to succeed.
He had with him some fishing equipment in a sealed tin, but he wanted to avoid using it. His idea was to exist like a shipwrecked sailor. He bent the point of his knife against an oar and then tied it to the end of the oar. He tried to catch a fish but could not. At last, he caught a dorado and ate it.
After these first few days, he was never without a supply of fish. Flying-fish were the main source of this supply. Once he caught a seabird and thought its flesh would be a pleasant change, but he found that it tasted almost like fish.
A terrifying visitor arrived one day. This was a huge and unfriendly fish. It followed the raft for twelve hours and sometimes bumped against it. If it had really attacked the rubber raft with its vicious sword, it could have cut it to pieces very quickly and that would have been the end of the experiment. Sharks also followed his raft.
The most frightening of all Bombard’s experiences on the long Atlantic journey was not due to swordfish or sharks. One day he accidentally knocked his air-filled cushion overboard and saw it floating about a hundred yards behind the raft. He swam to it but when he started to swim back he was horrified to see that the raft was moving faster than him. He put all his strength but was unsuccessful. He saw himself drowning through trying to rescue a cushion. So only a miracle could save him and a double miracle needed if he had been attacked at that time by a shark. It happened; the anchor fell free and he pulled himself on board.
On the twenty-fourth day, Dr Bombard began to long for sonic fresh water. “Rain I” he cried aloud 30 seeing the sea strangely flattened. He undressed so that salt could be washed off his body. He collected rain-water into an inflatable rubber mattress. Following this, other rainstorms beat down on him. Tice rain which he had been so glad to see at first, now became one of his greatest difficulties. It was impossible to keep dry as everything was wet. “The last forty-eight hours”, he wrote in his diary, “have been the worst of the voyage”.
This same night, a great wave broke over L’ Heretique and broke the oar he used as a rudder. Then, while trying to pull down the sail to save it from the storm, he tore a hole in his tent. He baled out as much water as he could.
At last, the sun appeared and the brightness spread across the sky. “Thank God for the sun”, he wrote, “I am covered with little spots but the sun has returned.”
1. Answer the following questions in short-
(a) List four problems that Bombard faced at the beginning of his sea Journey. One example is already given. A wave swept over the raft.
(b) Dr Alain Bombard himself undertook the sea-journey because
(c) He bent the point of a knife against an oar because
(d) From the last but one paragraph, we can tell that Bombard was not afraid of the collection of water in his dinghy because
2. Find words in the passage which mean the opposite of each of the following.
(1) (a)The wind tore the sail. (2) He couldn’t catch fish. (3) He had nothing to drink but sea-water. (4) He got hungry but couldn’t catch fish.
(b) he wanted to prove the truth behind his statement.
(c) he wanted to exist like a shipwrecked sailor.
(d) he could bale it out easily.
2.(a) alive (b)tied (c) pleasant (d) brightness