Cast away: I was lost at sea for two months and lived on raw fish but my devoted dog Bella saved my life, says real-life castaway

dog saved life
Maggie Davies

Adrift on the Pacific Ocean with only his dog Bella for company, real-life castaway Tim Shaddock seemed done for.

The Sun reports that for two months he was at the mercy of the currents, surviving aboard his storm-battered catamaran on just raw fish and rainwater.

Then last week, thanks to a chance sighting by a trawler crew, a gaunt, shaggy-bearded Tim and his beloved pet were hauled to safety.

Like Tom Hanks’ character Chuck Noland from hit Hollywood movie Cast Away, he was dangerously malnourished and had badly weather-beaten skin.

Bella wagged her tail excitedly as the trawler crew filmed the rescue. Her companionship is credited with having helped Tim cling to life.

Now “stable and very well”, Aussie Tim, 51, was filmed telling rescuers: “I have been through a very difficult ordeal.

“I’m just needing rest and good food. “Otherwise I’m in very good health.” Bella also seems well.

Former IT specialist Tim, from Sydney, had set out in April from La Paz, Mexico, on a 3,728-mile voyage to French Polynesia. But weeks into the challenge, his vessel was damaged in a storm that downed its electronic and navigation systems.

Sheltered by a canopy from the beating sun, cancer survivor Tim fished for survival as his hair and beard grew wild. His filthy, threadbare clothing included two hats he wore at the same time to ward off sunstroke.

Then came something that must have seemed like a mirage. A helicopter from the tuna ship hovered over his catamaran – and the pilot radioed to the vessel for help. Tim and Bella were then lifted aboard.

It was like a scene from Cast Away, where Chuck survives an aircraft crash into the Pacific and, clinging to a raft, washes up on an uninhabited island. A latter-day Robinson Crusoe, after four harrowing years he is then rescued by a passing cargo ship.

Tim, whose doctor says he has “normal vital signs”, is now returning to Mexico with the trawler. But his look is in sharp contrast to photos from earlier in his life. In one image, he is clean-shaven and heavyset, in an ironed blue shirt.

In the early 2000s, Tim was diagnosed with stage-four bowel cancer, and he turned to a “holistic approach to healing instead of the conventional road of treatment”.

He said: “When my health was at a critical stage, it involved a lot of fasting, juicing and smoothies. “I recall spending over three months living just on green vegetable juice.” That raw-food diet stood him in good stead adrift on the Pacific, as he survived eating uncooked fish.

Ocean survival expert Professor Mike Tipton hailed Tim’s rescue as a “needle in a haystack” marvel. He said: “People need to appreciate how small the boat is and how vast the Pacific is. “The chances of someone being found are pretty slim.”

The professor of human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth added that Tim’s survival was a “combination of luck and skill”. He cited his foresight in using a sun canopy, explaining that “the last thing you want when in danger of becoming dehydrated is to be sweating”.

He also said Bella “may well have made the difference”, adding: “You’re living very much from day to day. “You have to have a very positive mental attitude to get through this kind of ordeal and not give up.” He added that Tim – who has now eaten some small meals on the trawler – will need to wean himself back on to a normal diet. He said: “It has to be a slow return.”

At home in Australia, Tim’s mum Jan Shaddock said: “He sent a voice message through the tuna boat’s captain. “He was elated he was safe. “I’ve been to church to give thanks.”

She added that she “can’t wait” to see her son, but will not stop him trying more voyages. She said: “You can’t live their lives for them.”

(Story source: The Sun)

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