Louie hears a voice, turns, and sees Phil and Mac clinging to a fuel tank. Neither has a life vest, and Phil’s head is bloodied. In the other direction, the rafts from the plane are floating away. Louie decides to go after the rafts. Swimming with all his might, he manages to grab the long cord attached to each raft. He ties them together and rows over to Phil and Mac.
Phil’s injuries seem serious, but Louie patches him up quickly with a shirt. Both Mac and Phil are quite out of it and Phil appoints Louie to be in charge. Louie rummages through the rations and supplies and realizes they are woefully underprepared. They can each eat two squares of high-calorie chocolate a day, and have two or three sips of water. They have basic supplies for fishing and raft maintenance but no way to get more water.
The odd calm on the raft breaks when Mac starts screaming that they are all going to die. Louie slaps him across the face and he returns to his silence. Soon after, the sharks find the men and various sharks from six to twelve feet long start to circle the rafts and knock it from below. With the rhythm of the ocean and the knocking of the sharks, the Louie and Phil drift asleep, but Mac lies awake, gripped by fear.
The men on the island of Palmyra realize that Louie’s crew has gone missing, and a search effort is launched. The ocean currents around the suspected area of the crash are very complex, and the raft could have floated in any direction. Rescue is unlikely.
Back on the water, Louie awakes to find that Mac has eaten all of the chocolate provisions. Knowing he has only done it out of fear, Louie remains calm, hoping that rescue will soon find them. Not long after, they hear a purring in the sky and see a plane far off in the distance. They try to alert it but fail. The next day, a plane flies by much closer. Unlike the last plane, it is a rescue plane and it is right overhead. Louie fires flares frantically, but still the men have no luck. They are floating on 2,000 miles of open ocean toward Japanese territory. Their best chance of rescue is gone.
As the men continued to drift, their bodies deteriorating by the day, their last letters sent before they left on this mission reached family. The letters said everything was okay. All of the loved ones are relieved by the news. A week after the search effort was launched, it is called off. The men are officially considered missing. Louie’s belongings are packed up and prepared to be sent off to Torrance. News reaches the family and friends that the men are missing. Everyone is greatly affected.