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17th Jul 2023

Sailor and his dog rescued after two months lost at sea

Charlie Herbert

Australian sailor

They survived on a diet of raw fish and rainwater

An Australian sailor and his dog managed to survive two months in the Pacific Ocean after their boat was damaged in a storm.

Back in April, Tim Shaddock, a 51-year-old from Sydney, and his dog Bella had set sail from Mexico for the tiny island of French Polynesia in a trawler. 

But several weeks into the 6,000km-long (3,728-mile) journey, the vessel’s electronics were cut off by bad weather.

This left them stranded and drifting in the Pacific Ocean. Using the fishing gear on the trawler though, Shaddock was able to survive on fish he caught.

He also sheltered under the boat’s canopy to avoid the heat of the sun and the risk of sunburn.

Two months after setting off, Shaddock and Bella were finally found off the Mexican coast. 

In video footage obtained by Australian news channel 9News, he said: “I have been through a very difficult ordeal at sea.

“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.”

Ocean survival expert, Professor Mike Tipton, said the 51-year-old had survived through a “combination of luck and skill.”

He added that Shaddock’s boat being found was a “needle in a haystack” situation, and that having his dog Bella with him throughout the ordeal probably played a big part in Shaddock surviving.

“I think that may have well made the difference,” Tipton said. 

“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

“But also, having a plan, rationing yourself in terms of water and food, is really the secret to long survival voyages.

“Just imagine how dark and lonely it would feel out there at night time.”

Shortly after his rescue, Shaddock was pictured smiling with a blood pressure monitor on, and has been able to eat small meals.

He will now return to Mexico with his trawler, where he will undergo medical tests and receive more treatment if needed.