On the third day without water, rain finally comes. Louie and the men devise ways of collecting the water. The men also create hats to protect themselves from the sun. As the days wear on, Mac’s binge on the chocolate proves to be more and more costly. One day an albatross lands on Louie’s hat. Louie snaps the bird’s neck and rips into it with pliers. The bird’s insides reek, but Louie manages to use the meat as bait to catch a fish. Louie and Phil feel inspired. Phil recalls an article he read about a crew that survived twenty-one days on the water, which was thought to be a record.
Louie decides that no matter what happens to their bodies, he won’t let their minds deteriorate. He and Phil constantly quiz one another, teach each other songs, and reminisce about the old days. Louie begins regularly describing meals his mother used to prepare, which tricks their stomachs into satisfaction. Mac is more withdrawn than the other men.
The men go on this way for many more days, floating along, eating what they can, drinking what water falls from the sky. They eventually surpass the twenty-one-day mark they thought to be a record. Not long after that point, their luck runs out. The rain stops coming and the fish stop biting. Louie says he will devote his life to God if rain comes back. The next day it does. This happens twice more.
On the morning of the twenty-seventh day, the men spot a plane high in the sky. The men wave their shirts in the air, in tears, thinking they might be saved. Soon, the plane starts firing at them. The men dive into the water, using the rafts as cover. They hardly have the energy to climb back aboard. At first, they think the plane made a mistake, but when it returns and begins firing again, they realize it is a Japanese bomber.
The firing comes five more times, and Louie hops into the water each time, punching sharks away. Somehow, they all survive. One last time, the plane comes and drops a depth charge, but it never goes off. The secondary raft is completely torn in two and the men must make do with one raft. But it is so deflated that sharks soon begin jumping into it, trying to drag one of them into the water. They fend a shark off with an oar, but more come. Louie fixes the raft enough to stop the sharks from coming.
The men estimate they have travelled about 1,250 miles. They guess they will need to survive about three more weeks before finding land. Louie and Phil retain some energy, but Mac is fading.