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Sailor & Dog Survive Three Months Lost at Sea

An Australian man and his dog were found adrift in the Pacific 1900km from land after a storm knocked out their boat's electronics

An Australian man who spent three months adrift with his dog has been rescued by a Mexican tuna boat in international waters.

Timothy Shaddock, 54, was aboard his catamaran Aloha Toa in the Pacific Ocean about 1,900 kilometres from land when the crew of the commercial boat spotted him.

The company who owns the fishing boat said Shaddock and his dog, Bella, were in obvious distress due to a severe lack of food and water. The pair had been adrift for roughly 90 days before being spotted on July 12th.

Shaddock was attempting to sail from La Paz, Mexico to French Polynesia, a distance of roughly 6000 km (3700 miles).

The commercial vessel's crew provided basic medical attention, notified Mexican authorities, and were able to feed and hydrate the starving man and his dog.

Grupomar, the company who owns the fishing boat, did not state exactly what day Shaddock was rescued or when he had first become adrift after experiencing mechanical failure, but by all accounts Shaddock left the Mexican coast in early April.

The tuna boat, along with Shaddock and Bella, were expected back in the Mexican port of Manzanillo to reunite with family and pass the lucky pair over to medical personnel.

Shaddock told Australia's 9News that the pair survived by eating raw fish and collecting rainwater.

"I've been through a very difficult ordeal at sea and I'm just needing rest and good food because I've been alone at sea a long time. Otherwise, I'm in very good health," Shaddock said in a video broadcast by 9News.

Shaddock and Bella set sail from La Paz, which sits in the state of Baja California Sur, and headed for French Polynesia directly the southwest.

Shortly after departure, a storm damaged the electrical system and left Shaddock unable to navigate or determine the nearest route to safety.

While Shaddock's exact route once he became adrift is unknown, given his departure location in La Paz it's likely the boat was pulled by the Equatorial Counter Current, which runs due south from Mexico before heading directly west and away from the North American mainland.

The crew of the Grupomar ship have not disclosed the exact coordinates where he was found.

A doctor who helped treat Shaddock told Australia’s 9News said the man is “stable and very well” with “normal vital signs.”

Bella also appears to have come through her ordeal in good condition and has been alongside Shaddock throughout his rescue and return to shore.

Ocean survival expert and University of Portsmouth professor Mike Tipton told 9News that a “combination of luck and skill” helped the pair survive for so long. Tipton also believes the positive influence of Bella may have helped as well.

"Just imagine how dark and lonely it would feel out there at night time."

“I think that may have well made the difference,” Tipton added. “You’re living very much from day to day and you have to have a very positive mental attitude in order to get through this kind of ordeal and not give up.”

Tipton described Shaddock’s rescue much like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack.”

“People need to appreciate how small the boat is and how vast the Pacific is. The chances of someone being found are pretty slim," said Tipton.

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