Tim Shaddock, Australian outcast: ‘I was a man in a suit and tie who knew I had to change my life’

Tim Shaddock was a guy in a suit and tie who worked for a big tech company. When he realized that this way of life did not fit his way of thinking, he went deep into nature with his computer, in the mountains and remote places of Asia. Then his life opened to the sea, the same sea he was about to destroy. In 2020, his new steps lead him to Mexico and he decides to set off from La Paz, in Baja California Sur, to French Polynesia. Roughly 2,000 kilometers from land and without contact, a storm tore his sail off, stopped his engine and left him adrift in the widest part of the Pacific Ocean. He was found by a tuna boat on July 12th and save him with his dog, Bella. Now, from the coast of Colima, he remembers the ninety days he lived between sky and water, eating raw fish and some ducks that landed on his raft.

The waves of the Pacific Ocean break the silence on Manzanillo Beach, the capital of Colima. Chaddock (Sydney, Australia, 54) has been there since last Tuesday, staying at one of the hotels that charts the local landscape, trying to stabilize his health and trying to fix his immigration status. He does not forget the three months he was left straying with his dog. The sailor has very blue eyes, an open cap, and a bushy beard. He just woke up from his nap. “I’m fine. I’ve been taking care of myself here. I’m very grateful to Mexico and to all the people who saved my life. I’m better here than when I was at sea, “he assured in an interview with this newspaper.

Manzanillo Beach, Colima, where the Australian ship Timothy Shaddock was wrecked, was rescued on July 12, 2023 in the Pacific Ocean.Cesar Rodriguez

The openness to remote working led Shaddock to move away from his native Sydney to the US when the COVID-19 virus began to wreak havoc across the world. The pandemic caused Australia to close its borders for more than a year, leaving thousands of Australians abroad (“I was one of those 20,000,” he says). His stay in the North American country was complicated by visa restrictions. And he decided to go to Queretaro. From there he worked remotely for a season. He says he met Bella In the San Miguel Allende Mountains about three years ago. She was a little cattle dog: “She followed me everywhere. And I thought, ‘I can’t have a dog.’ But Bella She continued to follow him wherever he went.

After months of being chained to the Mexican border, he decided to change his dynamics. Went to Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco) in that car Bella jump. There bought Hi Tuathe little boat he made his home from: “Once I started living on the boat, it was very difficult to work remotely.”

He planned his ocean trip two years in advance. “When I bought the boat, summer and hurricane season were just around the corner. I had to stay there [en Puerto Vallarta], and wait until you sail to La Paz through the Sea of ​​Cortez.” In that first year, he began adapting the boat for future voyage. “I had to have a way to make sure that I would only use fuel to get in and out of the port and set sail. [con vela] The rest of the time and water.

Phones, GPS and flight

The sea water leaves a scent of fresh fish all over the port of Manzanillo. The place is one of the first images the Australian saw upon his arrival at the coast, last Tuesday. The sun is burning and people take refuge in the shade of the trees. Rene Tapia (beach), 53, is a floor sweeper, protected by a long-sleeved polo shirt and hat. In recent days, he heard about the Australian who was found almost 2,000 kilometers away. “Thank God he could have been saved. It’s strange, if it’s been so hard for us to get food for three months here.” [en tierra]imagine there…”. Before working on the cleanup, he confirmed that he was part of the crews of Grupomar, the company that owns Maria Delia. Until a giant tuna fell on his shoulder, throwing him into the sea and forcing him to give up his job. beach On those voyages of “20, 30 or 50 days,” he says, they also found cases like that of Shaddock: sailors whose engines had failed on their boats.

This year, Shaddock decided to go one step further to start his journey across the vast ocean. He did the reviews and started the first test in the open sea, traveling to La Paz: “It’s the year I really say, ‘Well, I colonized the Sea of ​​Cortez. ‘” How will you do that in the Pacific? The trip helped him see that he couldn’t carry much fuel or water. Modifications culminated in Hi TuaHe installed solar panels to ensure the operation of his equipment, installed a water desalination plant, prepared food supplies and tried to make them lighter, to facilitate the use of a candle. Among all those preparations, I also bring several GPS devices and cell phones, which served as a backup for the pager, according to his account: “You know you can’t call them [con los teléfonos]but GPS still works if you download maps.” Despite these systems, the Maria Delia It was the only boat that got close to the boat.

The exact date on which the journey began is not yet clear. “I think it was April. April 1st. I lost the weather window [el momento de espera para que las condiciones climáticas sean adecuadas]. You have some weather conditions that you need to navigate. I needed to save fuel, and I was waiting for the wind, ”he explains. Shaddock wanted his flight not to coincide with Hurricane season in the Pacific, which launched on May 15.

Shark sushi

The Australian had prepared storage before the trek: some rice, cans of tuna, and some other preserves that didn’t need to be refrigerated. On the boat, try coordinating that food with the catch. If one day there is no success, resort to cans. “My dog ​​and I ate together and drank water from a cup. She always ate with me. She ate a little and then I gave her a little. If she had fish, we’d cut up the fish and she’d eat it, bones and all,” she recalls.

Australian outcast Timothy Shaddock.
Australian outcast Timothy Shaddock.Cesar Rodriguez

Chadock hunted and hunted in a variety of ways. The boat anchor plunges into the water, takes a breath and lowers the rope, armed with a hunting gun. Wait patiently for a fish to pass by ¡Boom!There was luck. The situation varies by day: the duck lands on the boat and starts quacking. Bella He seems to be talking to him with his bark. The Australian quickly gets up, grabs the bird by the neck and slits its throat. Once again the reward is greater. Throw a rope into the water, and manage to catch a shark. He pulls the animal to the stern of the boat and stabs it. “So it was, Shark sushiHe jokes. At first he cooked food with a small stove, but that soon broke. After being diagnosed with cancer in the 1990s, the Australian started a raw vegan diet, which he alternated over time. “I would always go back to eating meat if I was very skinny, like now,” he says.

A storm crossing the Pacific destroyed the boat’s engine and sail. Shaddock attempted to repair the sail, but was struck several times while trying to board the mast. Please lower it. He didn’t see a way to fix it until he recovered.

On July 7, the tornado Calvin About 300 kilometers from Manzanillo. On the way to the Pacific Ocean, it began to lose strength (the wind speed reached 150 kilometers per hour). On July 12, about 200 km off the coast of Colima, Shaddock was still adrift, near a hurricane, which could have been fatal. “It’s a complicated situation. When the storm comes, your options are slim. […] There’s no way you can do much on the boat.”

He was lucky. A helicopter was passing by, looking for dark spots left by schools of fish in the sea, and saw the little white boat. She reported the tuna boat Maria Delia. A small launch from the ship approached from Hi Tua.

He had to make a decision. If you don’t go with these people, will you survive? Shadow remembers now from the hotel. The sailor climbed into the boat, but did not cry until he reached the ship safely. Maria Delia.

Bella, the puppy who got strong

The crew saw the dog as healthier than the castaway who got on the boat. Bella Gennaro Rosales, one of the ship’s navigators, approached him in the first moments. Rosales, along with one of his companions, began tending to the dog’s wound in the armpit. But he was more sympathetic to him. The Australian saw how he treated her: “He loved BellaAnd I was glad I went with him. Rosales ended up adopting her this past week.

Timothy Shaddock
Timothy Shaddock with Bella on his boat. Sea group

Shadow remembers Bella Like that puppy he found in San Miguel Allende, which has become a strong dog over time (“stronger than me,” he specifies). He admits that Australia’s restrictions on importing dogs and cats – and that they undergo at least 10 days of quarantine and required various tests – were part of the decision to abandon Bella. “Had it been so easy to take her to Australia I probably would have considered keeping her. But Australia is an island continent and they don’t have anything like rabies. [principal razón por la que el país impone restricciones a estos animales] Nothing like that. He was with me at sea for three months. This is enough for quarantine. He wanted her to be happy. I didn’t want to put her through all that stuff.”

From the hotel where he is resting, the waves of the Pacific Ocean can be seen breaking on the coast. Occasionally ships’ horns float over the horizon.

Will you sail again?

“I think I will sail in the future, though perhaps on a larger ship.” Maybe on a cruise, sitting on my couch, eating my food with the air conditioner on,” he jokes.

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