A Mexican fishing boat rescued an Australian man who’d been adrift for three months after a storm disabled the electronic equipment of his boat, leaving him without a way to return to safety nor the ability to cook. The man had set sail for French Polynesia from Mexico in April, accompanied only by his dog Bella, but severe weather left the two adrift only “weeks into the journey,” according to the Associated Press.
The 54-year old sailor, Timothy Lyndsay Shaddock, and his dog, Bella, were in a “‘precarious’ state when found” with no provisions or shelter, per the AP. When the Mexican fishing vessel happened upon the Australian sailor and his dog, the incapacitated catamaran was 1,930 kilometers from land, or about 1,200 miles.
Shaddock is originally from Sydney, and his catamaran sailed under the name Aloha Toa. After the storm left the Aloha Toa adrift, it was spotted by the fishing boat’s helicopter. The boat, which is known as the María Delia, belongs to Grupomar, a Mexican company that owns the popular fishery and cannery, Tuny. You can probably guess what kind of fish the company specializes in.
When the crew of the María Delia rescued Shaddock and Bella, they promptly administered medical attention along with food and water. Shaddock admitted that he was well-stocked going into the storm, but didn’t have a way to cook due to the unspecified damage the storm caused. The stranded sailor and his dog ate raw fish for the following few weeks, reportedly managing to live off this diet for three months in all.
Surprisingly, Shaddock also managed to keep his spirits high, and would swim for leisure from time to time. The Australian sailor told interviewers that he just loves the ocean. Shaddock conjures the image of a scraggly Herman Melville, declaring that people are supernaturally drawn to the water, as the AP reports:
Shaddock described himself as a quiet person who loves being alone on the ocean. Asked why he set out in April from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula to cross the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, he was initially at a loss.
“I’m not sure I have the answer to that, but I very much enjoy sailing and I love the people of the sea,” he said. “It’s the people of the sea that make us all come together. The ocean is in us. We are the ocean.”
“The energy, the fatigue is the hardest part,” he said. He passed the time fixing things and stayed positive by going into the water to “just enjoy being in the water.”
But even though the journey of Bella the dog and the self-described quiet man ended happily with their rescue, Shaddock is nonetheless leaving his first mate behind. The sailor said that Bella had found him in the middle of Mexico prior to setting sail, and called her the spirit of the country.
She wouldn’t let him go, he said, and added that she was far braver than he was. In some sense Bella is a rescue two or three times over; she’s now going to live with one of the crew members of the fishing boat, so it’s unclear if her life on the water is through. Shaddock said he’s allowing the fisherman to adopt her on the condition that he would take good care of her.