A terrific storm rolls in and sends Pi scrambling into the lifeboat, where he lies flat on a bench at the end farthest from Richard Parker. He closes the tarpaulin over them both. The storms rages for a day and night, during which time the boat climbs up waves that resemble mountains. When the storm subsides, Pi realizes that the raft is gone; only a couple oars and a life jacket remain. His stores of water are unharmed, but the lifeboat itself has sustained some damage. Pi starts mending the torn tarpaulin and bailing out water. In one bucketful he finds the orange whistle he has used to train Richard Parker.
Pi sees several seabirds. He kills a masked booby, skins it, and eats its edible parts. One day a lightning storm puts Pi in a state of exaltation; Richard Parker cowers in fear. Another day, a tanker appears on the horizon and Pi is sure they will be saved. Instead, the tanker, oblivious to the small lifeboat, nearly runs them over. Later, the lifeboat wanders into a mass of trash, from which Pi salvages a bottle. He seals a message in it and throws it back into the ocean.
Pi’s condition continues to deteriorate, as does Richard Parker’s. Pi is convinced he is near death. His pen runs out of ink and he can no longer write in his diary. He begins sleeping many hours a day, slipping into a state of semiconsciousness. Pi goes blind, and in his sightless delirium, he hears a voice. The voice speaks to him, and Pi responds, talking about food. The voice, with a French accent, speaks of beef and brains and all sorts of food that Pi finds distasteful. Pi assumes he is hearing the voice of Richard Parker, but the French accent does not make sense to him.
Pi asks the voice if he has ever killed anyone, and the voice says yes, a man and a woman. The voice grows weak and Pi urges it to come back. The voice belongs to a blind man, a castaway like Pi, and they join their boats together. The man climbs aboard Pi’s boat in order to kill and cannibalize him. But when he steps down onto the floor of the boat, Richard Parker kills him. Pi cries and rinses his eyes with seawater. His vision returns, and he sees the other man’s butchered body.
The lifeboat comes across a low island covered entirely with algae. Pi and Richard Parker stop for a time, eating the vegetation, drinking the fresh water, and nursing themselves back to health. The island is full of meerkats, small ferretlike creatures, and Pi sees that the island’s fresh ponds are full of dead fish. A storm hits while Pi and Richard Parker are ashore, and the island weathers it beautifully, absorbing the ocean’s ferocious waves. Pi notices that the island burns his feet at night but not during the day. Seeing that meerkats spend the nights in the treetops, Pi, who has been sleeping on the lifeboat, joins them.
One day, Pi discovers a tree that bears fruit. However, the center of each fruit holds a human tooth. From this evidence, Pi decides that the island is carnivorous. He stocks the lifeboat with dead fish and meerkats and eats and drinks his fill of algae and fresh water. Then he waits for Richard Parker to board the lifeboat and pushes off into the sea.