The Australian sailor who spent months drifting aimlessly in the Pacific Ocean thanked rescuers on Tuesday and vowed he’ll be back on the water, despite his terrifying adventure.
While 51-year-old Tim Shaddock doesn’t have any high-seas adventures planned now, the fortunate sailor insisted that he’ll never give up the pastime.
“Look, I’ll always be in the water,” he told reporters in Manzanillo, Mexico. “I just love nature.”
Sporting a shaggy beard, Shaddock appeared on land for the first time in three months and expressed his gratitude to the fishermen who found him and his dog.
“Look, to the captain and this fishing [crew] — [they] saved my life — what do you say?” Shaddock said. “I’m just so grateful. I’m alive.”
He added: “I’m feeling all right. I’m feeling a lot better than I was, I can tell you. Thanks so much.”
Shaddock and his dog, Bella, shoved off from La Paz, Mexico, three months ago before their journey took a near-deadly turn one month into it.
That’s when a storm struck his white catamaran, wiping out all electronics, the sailor said. That incident two months ago was nearly deadly.
“I didn’t think I’d make it through the storm,” Shaddock said. “Now I’m really doing good.”
Shaddock had charted a journey to French Polynesia before the storm sent them off course.
The man and dog reportedly survived on raw fish and rain water. The lost sailor said he avoided sunburn by taking cover under his boat’s canopy.
“Look, I feel really good. I was struggling, the health was pretty bad for a while,” he said. “I was pretty hungry, and I didn’t think I’d make it through the storm. But now I’m doing really good. Thank you.”
They floated aimlessly in the Pacific for two months, seemingly with no hope for survival, before a crew of fishermen from Mexico came upon them, Shaddock and the fishing company said.
A helicopter, scouting on behalf of the tuna trawler, first spotted Shaddock, leading to their needle-in-a-haystack discovery and rescue, they said.
“You don’t have to hear it from me. The message is we’re all here for each other. All sailors help each other,” Shaddock said. “Even if you don’t sail, I’m here for you, too. We’re all out here for each other.”
Shaddock and Bella were fished out of the water by the trawler and taken back to Mexico.
Shaddock couldn’t imagine enduring all he did without the support of his faithful dog.
“She’s amazing, mate,” he said. “I mean, that dog is something else. I’m a bit biased. But yeah.”
Shaddock was greeted on land by Antonio Suárez, president of Grupomar, the company that operates the trawler that found wayward sailor.
Suárez said it’s difficult to explain how lucky it was for his crew to have stumbled upon Shaddock.
“I’m going to say — a straw in a pack of hay to find somebody in the middle of the sea,” told NBC News shortly before Shaddock’s arrival. “So it’s a huge place out there. People don’t realize the immenseness of the sea in itself and obviously, I think it was luck.”
Shaddock was about 1,000 miles off the Mexican coast when the fishing expedition found him, according to Suárez. When crew members radioed to shore about their miraculously discovery, the fisherman were told to be careful.
“We asked them to proceed with caution to see what it was. They found a man and his dog inside,” the company owner said. “First of all, they brought him on board gave him first aid. They were pretty burned because of the sun. Pretty dehydrated.”
He added: “We were in communication with our crew at all times. We made sure that the crew touched base with the authorities and also with the company doctors to make sure that they were doing things right.”
When Shaddock met with reporters on Tuesday, he wore a red baseball cap emblazoned with “Tuny,” the food brand of Suárez’s Grupomar.