MANZANILLO, Mexico (AP) — An Australian sailor who was rescued by a Mexican tuna boat after being adrift at sea with his dog for two months said Tuesday that he is “grateful” to be alive after setting foot on dry land for the first time since their ordeal began.
After a visit from a doctor on board the Maria Delia Tuna, Timothy Lyndsay Shaddock, 54, and his dog, Bella, disembarked in the Mexican city of Manzanillo from the fishing boat that rescued them.
“I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling a lot better than I was, I tell ya,” Shaddock, smiling, bearded and thin, told reporters on the dock in the port city, which is about 210 miles (337 kilometers) west of Mexico City..
“To the captain and fishing company that saved my life, I’m just so grateful. I’m alive and I didn’t really think I’d make it,” Shaddock said, adding that he and his “amazing” dog are both doing well now and that he still loves the ocean.
Before they left the vessel, the crew posed for photos on board while holding Bella.
The Sydney man’s catamaran set sail in April from the Mexican city of La Paz for French Polynesia but was crippled by bad weather weeks into the journey. He said the last time he saw land was in early May as he sailed out of the Sea of Cortez and into the Pacific Ocean. There was a full moon.
Shaddock told Australia’s Nine News television from the fishing boat that he and his dog had survived on raw fish and rain water after a storm damaged his vessel and wiped out its electronics.
The tuna boat spotted Shaddock’s boat about 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) from land, Grupomar, which operates the fishing fleet, said in a statement. It didn’t specify when the rescue occurred, but said Shaddock and his dog were in a “precarious” state when found, lacking provisions and shelter, and that the tuna boat’s crew gave them medical attention, food and hydration.
Antonio Suárez Gutiérrez, Grupomar’s founder and president, said he was proud of his boat’s captain, Oscar Meza Oregón, and crew, praising them for their humanity in saving the life of someone in trouble.
Shaddock said that a storm damaged his vessel and wiped out its electronics, he did a lot of fishing and that he and Bella survived on raw fish and rainwater.
He said he’ll be going back to Australia soon and that he’s looking forward to seeing his family.
Shaddock also spoke glowingly about his dog, pointing out that she was a hit with the fishing boat’s crew.
“Bella sort of found me in the middle of Mexico. She’s Mexican,” he said. “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.”