Adrift for months, Australian and his dog lived on raw fish until Mexican fishermen rescued him

PTI, Jul 19, 2023, 11:30 AM IST

Lost at sea for months on a disabled catamaran, with no way to cook and no source of fresh water but the rain, Australian Timothy Shaddock said he expected to die.

There was a lot to like about the experience, he said. Like when he would plunge into the sea for a swim, or when his dog, Bella, would stir him to keep going. “I did enjoy being at sea, I enjoy being out there,” he said. He recalled the full moon in early May that illuminated his turn away from the Baja Peninsula, his last sight of land until he came ashore Tuesday. Shaddock, 54, smiling and good humoured, was the living image of a castaway, with a long blonde beard and emaciated appearance, as he joked with a group of reporters Tuesday, standing in front of the fishing boat that rescued him at a port on Mexico’s Pacific coast. He granted that there were “many, many, many bad days,” but declined to elaborate.

Shaddock and his dog left northwest Mexico in a catamaran in late April, he said, planning to sail to French Polynesia. A few weeks into his voyage, he was struck by a storm, which disabled his catamaran and left him with no electronics and no way to cook. He declined to describe the storm or the damage in detail, but images of the boat taken during the rescue showed it with no sail.

He and Bella survived by fishing and eating their catch raw. Rain provided their drinking water.

Sailors, especially those travelling alone, get used to living — and sleeping — in the midst of constant work and whatever challenges the sea throws their way, and Shaddock said he spent most of his time fixing things on the boat. “The fatigue is the hardest part,” he said.

“I would try and find the happiness inside myself, and I found a lot of that alone at sea,” Shaddock said. The tuna boat María Delia’s helicopter was the first sign of humans he had seen in three months. He was 1,200 miles from the nearest land when suddenly a helicopter appeared. The pilot tossed him a drink before flying off, and a short while later, the crew reached him in a speed boat. “It made me feel like I was going to live,” he said.

Part of that encounter with sailors from the María Delia was captured on video. They circle Shaddock’s bobbing catamaran, a flock of white seabirds perched on its double hulls as Shaddock scrambles to his feet in the stern. Bella wags her tail.

A crew member asks Shaddock if he speaks English, if he’s okay, and if he has any drugs or weapons on board. Shaddock initially just hoarsely repeats, “Thank you, thank you.” But he’s coherent, welcomes them to inspect the boat, and hands over the knife dangling from his neck.

Grupomar, the company that owns the tuna boat, said its crew gave Shaddock and Bella food and medical attention.

Shaddock said the María Delia became his “land” and the crew his family.

He said a lesson he took from the experience was a feeling that “your family is everyone, and your family is all of nature.” Bella was an immediate hit with the crew. Shaddock said he met the dog in Mexico, and even though he tried to find her a home on land she kept following him back to sea. “She’s a lot braver than I am, that’s for sure,” he said.

Maybe that was why Bella wasn’t allowed to disembark Tuesday until Shaddock had driven away. The Australian had chosen Genaro Rosales, a fisherman from Mazatlan on the María Delia’s crew, to adopt Bella on condition that he took good care of her.

Shaddock planned to return to Australia to spend time with family and friends, but said that he enjoyed solitude. Still, he said, it might be a while before he goes back to sea.

People adrift at sea have occasionally survived much longer, but maritime accidents often do not end happily.

In 2014, a Salvadoran fisherman washed ashore on the tiny Pacific atoll of Ebon in the Marshall Islands after drifting at sea for 13 months. Jose Salvador Alvarenga left Mexico for a day of shark fishing in December 2012 and got lost during bad weather. He said he survived on fish, birds and turtles until his boat washed ashore 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) away.

In other cases, disabled boats are found without survivors, or are lost entirely.

Antonio Suárez, Grupomar’s president, said Tuesday that the voyage during which the María Delia rescued Shaddock may have been its final trip, because he is modernizing the company’s fleet and the boat is its smallest and more than 50 years old.

If so, it would be a “marvelous farewell, saving human lives,” Suárez said.

Shaddock hugged Suárez in gratitude, and Suárez invited him to go for a meal in celebration. When asked what he would like to eat back on land, Shaddock, smiling and jovial as he slid into a waiting car, said “tuna sushi.”

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

AI cameras installed in K’taka Assembly to record arrival, exit time of MLAs, duration of presence

SC to consider setting up bench to hear pleas against passage of laws as money bills to circumvent RS

Kerala man stuck inside hospital lift for two days rescued, three employees suspended

Karnataka to strengthen law to ensure those involved in female foeticide don’t get bail easily

Disability rights groups hit out at Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Raina for ‘mocking’ disabled people in video

Karnataka govt. accuses Centre of adopting ‘step-motherly attitude’ towards State on AIIMS issue

Lord Jagannath’s ‘Bahuda Yatra’ begins, chariot pulling at 4 pm

Related Articles More

K P Sharma Oli sworn in as Nepal’s Prime Minister

The Trump assassination attempt has upended the US election race; how will both parties react now?

Singer Mary Millben to sing national anthem before Trump’s nomination acceptance speech

Donald Trump rally shooter was registered Republican; would have voted for first time in November

2 Indian nationals arrested in Italy for enslaving 33 countrymen on farms


Poisoning – Prevention

Mulbagal Dosa Vasavi Food Point

Donald Trump

Elephant attack

Anant Ambani Wedding

Latest Additions

Police deny permission for anti-love jihad protest in Mangaluru; sparks outrage

Excise “scam:” HC lists ED’s plea against bail to Kejriwal in money laundering case for Aug 7

Democracy being murdered in broad daylight: Cong slams BJP over violence in Tripura

AI cameras installed in K’taka Assembly to record arrival, exit time of MLAs, duration of presence

Heavy rains: Holiday declared for 4 taluks in Hassan for July 16

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.