Sailor who was lost at sea with dog Bella reveals why he must say goodbye to the pup: ‘I’m sad to lose her’

Tim Shaddock and his dog Bella were found alive on board his catamaran, having survived on raw fish and rainwater under a beating sun for more than 90 days

Tara Cobham
Thursday 03 August 2023 10:32 BST
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The pair survived on raw fish and rainwater under a beating sun for more than 90 days

A sailor who was rescued after spending three months adrift with his dog in the Pacific Ocean has revealed why he will now be leaving his faithful pet to “get lost in the jungle”.

Tim Shaddock, 54, and his dog Bella were found alive on board his catamaran on 12 July, having survived on raw fish and rainwater under a beating sun for more than 90 days.

Mr Shaddock, a former IT manager from Sydney, said the last time he saw land was in early May as he sailed out of the Sea of Cortez with the aim of reaching French Polynesia. The boat, however, became lost after the electronics were wiped out by a storm, leaving him unable to call for help and stranded at sea with Bella.

Mr Shaddock sits with Bella after being rescued by a Mexican tuna boat

The pair were reunited a week after they were spotted by a helicopter and saved by a crew of tuna fishermen who took them to the Mexican city of Manzanillo. Mr Shaddock told The Times: “I’m so happy to have seen my dog again. She’s still as lively as ever.”

But their time together will not last for long, as it was revealed the pair are to be parted for good. Mr Shaddock said he had decided to leave Bella in Mexico after a crew member from the rescue boat promised to give her a happy and loving home.

Mr Shaddock wants to continue his adventures, with Belize next on his list. “I’ll see if I can get lost in the jungle there,” he said. But he plans to do these potentially dangerous explorations solo. He said that, while he cared less for himself, he could not put his beloved dog at risk again.

Mr Shaddock, a former IT manager from Sydney, said the last time he saw land was in early May as he sailed out of the Sea of Cortez with the aim of reaching French Polynesia

However, he added: “I’m sad to lose her, she’s a remarkable animal. I’ve had her since she was a pup, and she just hasn’t stopped following me.”

Bella enjoyed her time on the boat, said Mr Shaddock, keeping him ‘calm’ and sane throughout the ordeal

He met Bella, who was a stray, in March 2020 in Mexico, where he was plotting a sailing route home to Australia, having been barred from the country due to pandemic restrictions. The duo drifted around Mexico for three years before finally setting off for what would have been a 5,000-mile ocean crossing. With coronavirus restrictions relaxed, the journey became more about a quest for solitude for Mr Shaddock. The dog jumped into his car when he left central Mexico for the coast last spring. “I thought to myself, well that’s it then,” he said.

The crew of the Mexican tuna boat Maria Delia, which rescued the pair, pose for photos with Bella

Bella enjoyed her time on the boat, said Mr Shaddock, although she did not once get off the vessel to swim with him. He said she kept him “calm” and sane throughout the ordeal. “You wouldn’t believe how well she managed out there. When we were rescued, all the crew commented on how fit she still looked, especially compared to me.”

Fisherman Genaro Rosales, 48, a member of the rescue crew, will be adopting Bella

Despite his sadness, Mr Shaddock is philosophical about losing his dog, happy in the knowledge she will be taken care of by her new Mexican family. Genaro Rosales, 48, along with his three children and their pug-chihuahua will be adopting Bella. “She’s got a really good outcome,” said Mr Shaddock. “The worst outcome was that she would lose her life out there with me.”

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