Australian castaway says he 'chewed sushi' to survive for months adrift at sea and admits 'I didn’t think I’d make it'

19 July 2023, 05:58 | Updated: 19 July 2023, 07:26

Tim Shaddock has finally made it back to land
Tim Shaddock has finally made it back to land. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Australian castaway who managed to survive for months eating raw fish after his boat got stranded in the Pacific has revealed he believed he would die in the ordeal.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Tim Shaddock used rainwater to keep himself going alongside his dog, Bella, after a storm knocked out their catamaran's electronics.

He had hoped to sail from La Paz, on Mexico's western Baja California peninsula, to French Polynesia but instead became stranded in the sea.

The 54-year-old was rescued when a helicopter from a tuna boat spotted him some 1,200 miles from land - having survived for three months.

The helicopter pilot threw him a drink before a speed boat from the Grupomar-operated Maria Delia arrived to help him.

Read more: Australian castaway survives eating raw fish and drinking rainwater for months until rescue alongside pet dog

Shaddock has been brought to Mexico
Shaddock has been brought to Mexico. Picture: Alamy

"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," he said after arriving in Manzanillo, Mexico.

Shaddock, from Sydney, left Mexico in April en route to French Polynesia. He had last seen land in early May.

Asked why he made the trip, he said: "I'm not sure I have the answer to that, but I very much enjoy sailing and I love the people of the sea.

"It's the people of the sea that make us all come together. The ocean is in us. We are the ocean."

Shaddock and Bella had to eat raw fish to survive, and he couldn't get the cooker to work because the electronics were disabled. He joked there had been "a lot of chewing of sushi".

Shaddock was welcomed back to land by Grupomar boss Antonio Suarez, left, and Oscar Meza Oregon, the tuna boat's captain
Shaddock was welcomed back to land by Grupomar boss Antonio Suarez, left, and Oscar Meza Oregon, the tuna boat's captain. Picture: Alamy

But he pointed to how skinny he had become and said he struggled with fatigue and lack of energy from his much lower-calorie diet.

Shaddock said he fixed things on the boat and tried to keep doing things he enjoyed, and joked he had "many, many, many bad days and many good days".

"I would try and find the 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 said.

Grupomar, which operates the tuna vessel that rescued him, said the crew gave him medical help, food and water. The firm said it was "proud" of the sailors for their "courage and humanity".

Shaddock said he encountered Bella in Mexico and the dog was popular with the crew.

Bella has been adopted by a crew member
Bella has been adopted by a crew member. Picture: Alamy

"Bella sort of found me in the middle of Mexico," he said.

"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.'

One of the tuna vessel's members, Genaro Rosales, will adopt her, it has since emerged.

Shaddock, who says he is doing well, is expected to be slowly brought back to a normal diet as he is helped back to good health.