I love the story of Bligh’s open boat voyage. I’ve studied a lot of accounts of open boat voyages. With lifeboats in the tropics, people start dying quickly at about the 11-day mark. The root cause is exposure, exacerbating dehydration. Yet Bligh’s crew lasted 47-days.
The longest I can find of any mariners existing in a lifeboat (a somewhat different thing than Bligh’s jolly boat) is 70-days (S.S. Anglo-Saxon), but all but two of the castaways perished on the voyage. (If anyone can find a longer lifeboat journey, please let me know).
Mariners last much longer in inflatable liferafts. And the record for living in a survival craft (133-days) was made by a lowly steward alone on a raft cobbled together from oil drums, in WW2. The difference in these cases is a simple covering, to prevent exposure. Even the cobbled-together raft had a sun screen.
There are the cases of disabled boats, usually fishing boats, drifting for much longer times, but these vessels have cabins, which greatly reduce exposure, and usually begin with more supplies, clothing, blankets, and means to catch fish.
The irony, of course is, that lifeboats (until recently) and longboats, jolly boats, etc, were supposedly designed to make long ocean voyages, but were deficient in one of the most important things: shade.
So how did Bligh and his men manage to last 47-days, when most mariners in similar craft start dying like flies after 11-days? The distance traveled is secondary to the days endured.