Manzanillo, Mexico –
He quits his corporate job and moves to Mexico to pursue his dream of sailing across the ocean alone.
Australian Timothy Shaddock, 54, bought his 30-foot catamaran two years ago in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta. He needed a place to live and he loved solitude.
“Of course, living on a boat and sailing on a boat are two different things and it was much more difficult,” Shaddock told the Associated Press on Wednesday after making landfall for the first time in months.
When Chaddick chose the Sea of Cortez as his training ground, it was a narrow finger of water between the Baja California peninsula and mainland Mexico.
“I was aware and the only preparation you could really do was take the boat out to sea and test the boat out at sea,” said Shaddock. He made short trips, pointing out what worked on the boat and what didn’t, but he knew that in late April, hurricane season was approaching.
“Either now or I can’t wait another year,” he said.
“There’s a point where you’re going and you probably won’t stop,” Shaddock said. “And I remember that day well, because once you hit the Pacific Ocean, the wind and current are behind you, it’s one way, and you can’t go back.”
Sail from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean under a full moon. He thinks it was early May, though the dates are fuzzy in his memory.
“It was so cool to sail across that full moon,” he recalls. “The boat was moving fast. It was a clear night. The wind was strong. I was amazed at how the boat moved and felt so comfortable sailing under that moon and in the perfect direction. It was so easy to make the decision. I wanted to keep sailing.”
When he arrived in Mexico at the beginning of the pandemic in June 2020, he first lived in San Miguel de Allende, a charming colonial town in central Mexico popular with foreign tourists.
There he met Bella, a black-and-brown stray dog, who became his constant companion for the next three years, despite his occasional efforts to find him a suitable home on the land.
Shadow and Bella were only weeks into their trip when a storm changed everything in an instant.
Shaddock described “The current direction changes. So if you drift, you suddenly drift in a circle. And the wind is changing all the time.” Waves move in so many directions and are so hypnotic that you suddenly feel like you are in a whirlwind. »
He has lost his sail, some electronics, and the ability to cook. Shaddock has said in other interviews that he always had the option of making a distress call, but he didn’t. We don’t know why.
The days became a battle against fatigue: fixing things on the boat, fishing, collecting rainwater. He was overwhelmed by the fear of being too tired and too weak the next day.
Shaddock found relief in meditation, swimming in the ocean, and writing in a journal.
Feeding and keeping Bella happy gave her extra purpose. Both depend on raw fish and rainwater.
Shaddock thought he would likely die at sea until he heard a helicopter on 12 July. His captain, Andres Zamorano, was the first person Shadock had seen in months and has been his friend ever since. Zamorano took off from the tuna boat Maria Delia in search of schools of fish.
They were 1,200 miles from the nearest land.
Zamorano believed that the moral obligation Shaddock felt to keep Bella alive helped them survive.
Aboard the Maria Delia, Shadock and Bella receive attention and first aid. The crew pampered Bella and treated her blisters on her legs.
The captain of the boat, Oscar Meza, said: “He would come on board every day when he wanted, and we would drink coffee and talk.”
Two days after the rescue, the boat found a huge school of tuna, allowing it to fill its hold and return to Manzanillo Harbor.
“The best moment with the dolphins was when they caught all the tuna,” said Shaddock. “You hear their voices, you see them move and you feel their magic. It is the magic of freedom and it is really what we are alive for.”
Entering Earth on Tuesday for the first time in months was very welcome and a little uncomfortable for someone who is used to being on his own.
Everyone asks about Bella, then is shocked when they are told that Shaddock has decided to give her up to Maria Delia’s animal lover crew.
“The Australian embassy has already made this decision on my behalf,” Shaddock later said, noting that his country has very strict laws on animal quarantine.
For now, Shaddock is planning to go back to Australia soon to see his parents, sister and daughter. He still loves the sea, but says he doesn’t know when it will disappear from the sight of land again. There was still an air of uncertainty in his voice.
He said, “My daughter can come over here and pick me up and bring me home.” “Maybe. She wants to come.