I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging above me. [...]. After a while I made good use of the lifebuoy. I lifted it out of the water and put the oar through its hole. I worked it down until the ring was hugging me. Now it was only with my legs that I had to hold on. If Richard Parker appeared, it would be more awkward to drop from the oar, but one terror at a time, Pacific before tiger. (2.40.4-5)
It can't get any worse for Pi. He's alone in the middle of the Pacific hanging onto an oar extended from the bow of a lifeboat. A Bengal tiger is pacing in the lifeboat. Sharks are swimming below him. But Pi proves here that he's pretty tough. Even though there's a lot of talk in the novel about faith and spirituality, Pi is a remarkably pragmatic boy. If he is to survive, he has to deal with one problem at a time. "One day at a time" is probably the most cliché advice in the world, unless you're trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger.