"The Open Boat" is a short story by American author Stephen Crane (1871–1900). First published in 1897, it was based on Crane's experience of having survived a shipwreck off the coast of Florida earlier that year while traveling to Cuba to work as a newspaper correspondent. Crane was stranded at sea for thirty hours when his ship, the SS Commodore, sank after hitting a sandbar. He and three other men were forced to navigate their way to shore in a small boat; one of the men, an oiler named Billie Higgins, drowned. Crane's personal account of the shipwreck and the men's survival, titled "Stephen Crane's Own Story", was first published a few days after his rescue.
Crane subsequently adapted his report into narrative form, and the short story "The Open Boat" was published in Scribner's Magazine. The story is told from the point of view of an anonymous correspondent, Crane's fictional doppelgänger, and the action closely resembles the author's experiences after the shipwreck.
One of the most frequently discussed works in Crane's canon, it is notable for its use of imagery, irony, symbolism, and exploration of themes including survival, solidarity, and the conflict between man and nature.
Hired by the Bacheller newspaper syndicate to serve as a war correspondent during the Cuban insurrection against Spain, the 25-year-old Stephen Crane boarded the filibustering steamship SS Commodore on New Year's Eve, 1896. The ship sailed from Jacksonville, Florida, with 27 or 28 men and a cargo of supplies and ammunition for the Cuban rebels. On the St. Johns River, less than 2 miles (3 km) from Jacksonville, Commodore struck a sandbar in a dense fog and damaged its hull. Although towed off the sandbar the following day, it was again beached in Mayport, Florida, and further damaged. A leak began in the boiler room that evening, and as a result of malfunctioning water pumps, the ship came to a standstill about 16 miles (26 km) from Mosquito Inlet (now called Ponce de León Inlet). As the ship took on more water, Crane described the engine room as resembling "a scene at this time taken from the middle kitchen of hades."
Commodore's lifeboats were lowered in the early hours of the morning on January 2, 1897, and the ship sank at 7 a.m. Crane was one of the last to leave the ship in a 10-foot (3.0 m) dinghy. He and three other men (including the captain, Edward Murphy) floundered off the coast of Florida for a day and a half before attempting to land their craft at Daytona Beach. The small boat, however, overturned in the surf, forcing the exhausted men to swim to shore; one of them, an oiler named Billie Higgins, died. The disaster was front-page news in newspapers across the country; rumors that the ship had been sabotaged were widely circulated but never substantiated.
Crane was reunited with his partner, Cora, several days after the ordeal, and quickly wrote his initial report of the sinking while waiting in Jacksonville for another ship. Desperate for work, he soon left for New York to secure a job covering the impending Greco-Turkish War. Crane completed the story that would become "The Open Boat" a few weeks later, in mid-February. According to fellow correspondent Ralph D. Paine, Crane had the opportunity to show the first draft of the short story to Murphy when Crane again passed through Jacksonville. When Crane asked his opinion, Murphy allegedly replied, "You've got it, Steve.... That is just how it happened, and how we felt. Read me some more of it".
~ Wikipedia has all the info you need to know :
2 Publication history
3 Plot summary
4 Style and genre
5 Major themes ~ Man vs. nature, Survival and solidarity, Sympathy.