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Rescued sailor gives first interview after months stranded at sea with dog: ‘I didn’t think I’d make it’

‘I would try and find happiness inside myself. And I found that a lot, alone at sea’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 19 July 2023 10:34 BST
Australian sailor recalls how he survived being stranded at sea for three months

An Australian sailor who was rescued after being adrift at sea for months with his dog in a remarkable tale of survival has spoken out for the first time.

“I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling a lot better than I was, I tell ya,” he told reporters on a dock in Manzanillo, Mexico, on Tuesday.

Tim Shaddock, a 54-year-old Sydney resident, and his dog Bella survived at sea by eating raw fish and drinking rainwater, local reports said.

Mr Shaddock and Bella were eventually rescued by a tuna trawler before being brought to the Mexican city of Manzanillo on Tuesday.

Mr Shaddock said after stepping foot on dry land: “I didn’t think I would make it... there were many bad days and many good days. I lost my cooking along the way so it was a lot of tuna sushi... I’m still very skinny.”

Mr Shaddock added that after he was rescued he was “just eating so much food” on the Mexican fishing vessel.

Weeks into their voyage from La Paz in Mexico to French Polynesia, their boat – named Aloha Toa – was severely damaged in a storm leading to them having to spend their days waiting for a rescue.

Local media reported that approximately three months later, salvation arrived when a helicopter accompanying a tuna trawler spotted Mr Shaddock’s boat.

Earlier, Mr Shaddock told Australia’s 9News: “I have been through a very difficult ordeal at sea. I am just needing rest and good food because I have been alone at sea [for] a long time. Otherwise, I am in very good health.”

“I did enjoy being at sea,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I enjoy being out there. But when things get tough out there, you know, you have to survive. And then when you get saved, you feel like you want to live. So I’m very grateful.”

He said he was not sure why he had undertaken the nearly 4,000-mile (6437km) journey. “I very much enjoy sailing and I love the people of the sea”.

“The fatigue is the hardest part,” he said. “You’re always fixing something. And for me, I would try and find happiness inside myself. And I found that a lot, alone at sea. I would go in the water, too, and just enjoy being in the water.”

He “did a lot of fishing” and ate “a lot of tuna sushi” while at sea. But he still lost a lot of weight and was very hungry for weeks on end, he told the media.

“My health was pretty bad for a while,” he said.

About Bella, he said she “just kept following me onto the water”.

“She’s a beautiful animal,” he said. “I’m just grateful she’s alive. She’s a lot braver than I am, that’s for sure.”

Meanwhile, the Australian government released a statement saying that its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was “providing consular assistance to an Australian man rescued off the coast of Mexico”.

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