Sydney sailer Timothy Shaddock and his dog Bella, who were rescued after being out at sea for months with no contact, have spoken out about what it was like being stranded in the Pacific Ocean and surviving only on raw fish and rainwater.
The pair became lost in the Pacific Ocean after Tim’s boat was damaged in a storm just weeks into their journey from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula to French Polynesia.
They were rescued by a tuna boat and disembarked in the Mexican city of Manzanillo.
“I’m feeling all right. I’m feeling a lot better than I was, I tell ya,” Shaddock told reporters in Manzanillo, per the ABC.
“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.
“There were many, many, many bad days and many good days… the energy, the fatigue is the hardest part.”
Shaddock also confirmed his dog Bella was in good health after the ordeal.
When asked why he set off across the ocean in the first place, Shaddock could not provide a concrete answer.
“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.”
He sounds like me five minutes into a bubble bath.
Shaddock also explained how he came in contact with his trusty companion Bella, and the story is exactly what you’d expect from someone who sails across the Pacific Ocean on a whim.
“Bella sort of found me in the middle of Mexico. She’s Mexican,” he said.
“She’s the spirit of the middle of the country and she wouldn’t let me go.
“I tried to find a home for her three times and she just kept following me onto the water. She’s a lot braver than I am, that’s for sure.”
According to 9News, Shaddock and Bella spent their days waiting and hoping someone would find them. This finally happened about three months after the storm when a helicopter, which was accompanying a tuna trawler, spotted his boat.
“I have been through a very difficult ordeal at sea,” the 51-year-old told 9News when he was found.
“I’m just needing rest and good food because I have been alone at sea a long time. Otherwise, I’m in very good health.”
Shaddock received help on board the boat that rescued him and further medical assistance on land.
Professor Mike Tipton, an ocean survival expert, believes that Bella likely helped keep Shaddock optimistic during what would’ve been a very scary experience.
“I think that may have well made the difference,” Tipton told 9News.
“You’re living very much from day to day and you have to have a very positive mental attitude in order to get through this kind of ordeal and not give up.
“Just imagine how dark and lonely it would feel out there at night time.”
I don’t know to describe the way I feel, but I am feeling things.
Tipton also credits Shaddock with protecting himself from the heat in order to avoid sweating and dehydrating, as well as having a plan and rationing water and food. The key element, however, was the fresh supply of water.
Shaddock will need to take a gradual approach back to his normal diet, according to Tipton, and “he will probably need to be kept an eye on for several months.”
Unfortunately, Shaddock and Bella have parted ways. According to ABC, Shaddock has left Bella with the crew that rescued them. It is reported that he has picked Genaro Rosales, a member of the crew, to adopt her.
An absolutely wild yet remarkable story.