Pi, looking back at his ordeal, says he spent 227 days as a castaway at sea.
Back on the raft and lifeboat, Pi busies himself with tasks. His daily schedule consists of chores and activities; he feeds himself and Richard Parker, keeps the vessels clean and functioning smoothly, and stimulates his mind (prayers, writing, and rest). Of the many weeks and months at sea, Pi says he survived only because he managed to forget the very notion of time.
Pi’s clothes disintegrate over time, and the near-constant wetness causes sea boils. Pi reads the survival manual, trying to understand its mysterious clues about navigation, but he is at a loss. He continues to fish, grabbing the fish with his bare hands and chopping their heads off with hatchets. He learns to train a net in the water as a lure, and some days he catches more fish than he can eat. He also learns that turtles are a relatively easy catch. Pi spends many hours observing the sea life collecting on the underside of his raft and eating some of it. He describes the cuminlike smell of signal flares, which never succeed in eliciting a response from rescuers.
Pi butchers a small hawksbill turtle and drinks its blood, which the survival manual recommends as a nutritious and salt-free thirst quencher. Because the turtle is too unwieldy for the raft, Pi must do this butchery on the lifeboat tarpaulin. He decides he needs to train Richard Parker to allow him onto the lifeboat more regularly.
Pi presents a training manual for taming a wild creature in a lifeboat at sea. He then describes his training attempts, during which he goads Richard Parker by stomping on the middle bench of the boat and blowing the whistle. He uses a turtle shell for a shield. During the first training practice, Richard Parker knocks Pi into the water, but Pi persists. Each practice, he catches another turtle and fashions a new shield. Finally, by the fifth shield, he is able to send Richard Parker back into the bottom of the boat by blowing on the whistle and rocking the boat to induce nausea in the tiger.
Pi keeps a diary, writing down mostly practical observations, and carries out religious rituals adapted to his unique situation. He also cleans up after Richard Parker, as part of the training exercise. After Richard Parker defecates (once a month—like Pi, he is constipated from dehydration and a high-protein diet), Pi holds the feces in his hand and blows the whistle angrily to demonstrate dominance. It works: Richard Parker gets nervous. In a moment of supreme hunger, Pi tries to eat the tiger’s feces, but fails.