An Australian sailor who spent months adrift in the Pacific Ocean alongside his beloved dog has recounted his remarkable tale of surviving on raw fish and rainwater after finally making it safely back to dry land.
Timothy Lyndsay Shaddock, 54, and his canine companion Bella were rescued after three months at sea by a Mexican tuna trawler that happened to spot their stricken vessel in the vast expanse of the world’s largest ocean.
“I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling a lot better than I was, I tell you,” a heavily bearded Shaddock told a news conference after reaching land in the port of Manzanillo, about 790 kilometers (491 miles) west of Mexico City.
“To the captain and fishing company that saved my life, I’m just so grateful. I’m alive and I didn’t really think I’d make it,” he said.
Shaddock, who described himself as a quiet person who loves being alone on the ocean, said his odyssey began in early May when he and Bella, a stray he picked up while traveling through Mexico, set sail on a lengthy fishing expedition from the Sea of Cortes, also known as the Gulf of California.
Their ultimate destination was French Polynesia – a voyage of 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles). But his small catamaran “Aloha Toa” was damaged by a storm several weeks later, leaving Shaddock and Bella drifting in a harsh and unpredictable ocean with little hope of rescue.
Shaddock said he “did a lot of fishing” and ate “a lot of tuna sushi” to sustain himself and Bella, but he said his health took a bad turn after encountering the storm.
The pair were eventually spotted in the Eastern Pacific Ocean “more than 1,200 miles from land,” according to Grupomar, the company that owns the tuna boat, in a tweet on Monday.
The boat’s crew, led by Captain Óscar Meza Oregón, provided Shaddock with medical attention, hydration, and food, according to Grupomar.
“Thank God for putting us in the path of a man who could have died,” Antonio Suarez, the owner of Grupomar, told reporters.
“It is a day of happiness because we ended up on an adventure to save an adventurer who had many more problems than we did.”
Shaddock praised Bella for giving him much needed companionship and explained how the pair met by chance.
“Bella sort of found me in the middle of Mexico, she’s Mexican, she is the spirit of the middle of the country. And she wouldn’t let me go. I tried to find a home for her maybe three times, and she just kept following me onto the water,” he recalled.
Appearing somewhat dazed and visibly thin with a disheveled beard and hair, Shaddock said he’ll “always be in the water,” despite his recent escape.
“I don’t know how far out in the ocean again I’ll be, you know, but I think I just love the nature,” he said.