Karana spends the summer watching for the ship to come back. But when winter arrives, she gives up hope. Karana becomes more and more lonely. After a storm hits the island, she decides to take one of the smaller canoes and go east across the ocean, to where her people have gone.
Karana isn't afraid – she would rather risk her life on the ocean than stay on the island alone, with only a bunch of wild dogs and all of those memories.
Karana puts a bunch of supplies in the canoe, patches up the tiny boat with strips of kelp, and sets off. By sunset, the Island of the Blue Dolphins is out of sight.
Karana uses the stars to navigate.
All is looking good, but she soon discovers that the canoe has a leak. She stuffs it as best she can with her skirt.
Karana remains upbeat and hopeful that if the weather continues the way it is, she will make it soon. But, even though she tries to fix the leak, it just gets worse. Karana realizes she has to go back to the island – continuing on to the mainland and her people would take two more days at least.
On the way back to the island, Karana is lucky to have no wind, and a swarm of dolphins swim along with her for most of the ride back.
The dolphins make her happy – she sees them as "animals of good omen" (10.35). They're her friends.
The dolphins leave Karana's canoe and she finally reaches the island. Crawling onto the shore, she hugs the sand and falls asleep.