Australian sailor and his dog rescued after months of being lost at sea - are they still together?

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An Australian sailor and his dog have been rescued off the coast of Mexico after being lost at sea for two months

An Australian sailor and his dog who were rescued after being lost at sea for two months, are now going their separate ways.

Tim Shaddock, and his dog, Bella, were rescued off the coast of Mexico after surviving off nothing but rainwater and raw fish and living under a small canopy on board his wrecked vessel after they were spotted by a helicopter on the lookout for Tuna for a fishing vessel. He was 1,200 miles from the nearest land when the helicopter appeared.

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Now, Mr Shaddock has decided to leave Bella in Mexico after a crew member from the rescue boat promised to give her a happy and loving home. Australia also has a complex and strict process required to bring pets into the country.

Dogs must be vaccinated, microchipped and undergo a quarantine period before they are fully allowed into the country from ‘approved nations’ - of which Mexico is not on.

He said: "Bella sort of found me in the middle of Mexico. She’s Mexican. 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."

The 54-year-old set out for French Polynesia from Mexico in April, but his catamaran was badly damaged by a storm just a month into their journey.

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Mr Shaddock set off on his 6,000km-long (3,728-mile) journey from Mexico's city of La Paz - but soon became stranded after his vessel's electronics were cut off by bad weather.

Tim Shaddock and his dog have been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after surviving by drinking rain water and eating raw fish for months. (Nine news)Tim Shaddock and his dog have been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after surviving by drinking rain water and eating raw fish for months. (Nine news)
Tim Shaddock and his dog have been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after surviving by drinking rain water and eating raw fish for months. (Nine news) | Nine news

It left the sailor and his dog drifting in the vast and hostile North Pacific Ocean, surviving on what he could catch. When he was found, Mr Shaddock was far leaner and had an overgrown beard.

In a video with Australian 9News, Mr Shaddok says: "I've been through a very difficult ordeal at sea and I'm just needing rest and good food because I've been alone at sea a long time. I've not had enough food for a long time."

He says his fishing gear helped him and Bella survive, and the boat's canopy provided much-needed relief from the sun. The doctor aboard the tuna trawler told Australia's 9News that the man had "normal vital signs".

Bella was also looking safe and well.

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Professor Mike Tipton, an ocean survival expert, says luck was only a part of the pair's incredible story."It's a combination of luck and skill," he told Weekend Today. "And also knowing for example, as Tim did, that during the heat of the day you need to protect yourself because the last thing you want when you're in danger of becoming dehydrated is to be sweating."

Tipton said it would have been an isolating few months and likened Shaddock's story to a real-life Cast Away, referring to the 2000 movie starring Tom Hanks.

He said having Bella onboard would have helped a "tremendous amount".

"I think that may have well made the difference," Mr Tipton said. 

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"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."

Tipton added Shaddock will need to slowly wean himself back onto a normal diet.

"It has to be a slow return to normal and he will probably need to be kept an eye on for several months."

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