Sydney Sailor Tim Shaddock, who survived three months at sea with only his dog Bella for company, has left his castaway canine pal behind after he flew back to Australia.
In April, he set sail from La Paz, on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, for French Polynesia in the middle of the Pacific.
But Mr Shaddock, 54, who used to be a tech specialist at IT giant IBM, ended up stranded in the Pacific Ocean due to a brutal storm damaging his catamaran and wiping out the electronics.
He and Bella survived off raw fish and rain water while lost at sea.
The pair were eventually rescued, 1930km from land, by tuna trawler the Marie Delia after being spotted by a helicopter. The vessel returned them to Mexico.
When he was found Mr Shaddock’s hair had grown long, his beard was unkempt and his clothes were beginning to look like rags. He had also lost weight. But otherwise he – and Bella – were in surprisingly fine fettle.
“Bella sort of found me in the middle of Mexico. She’s Mexican,” he said of their meeting reported the New York Post.
“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.”
But if Bella thought the duo’s gruelling ordeal meant she’d found her forever owner, she may have be disappointed.
Mr Shaddock has said he left the pooch behind when the tuna trawler delivered them back to dry land in Mexico.
The crew of the Marie Delia took an instant linking to Bella.
Mr Shaddock said he had chosen crew member Genaro Rosales to care for Bella who had ensured she would be well looked after.
Bringing pets to Australia can be a lengthy and expensive process involving cats and dogs being microchipped, vaccinated and undergoing quarantine for varying periods.
And that’s from “approved” countries.
Mexico is not an approved country for pet importation and so the hurdles to bring Bella to Australia would have been even higher.
She would likely have had to spend time in another country, and be cared for there, prior to her being able to arrive in Australia.
After arriving at the Mexican port of Manzanillo, Mr Shaddock shared his plans for when he returned home to Australia.
“We did ask him what is your first meal going to be. He seems to have his humour intact. He says it will be tuna sushi,” Today’s US Correspondent Lauren Tomasi said.
Mr Shaddock said he was “so grateful” to be alive and described the moment he saw the helicopter that alerted the trawler to his location.
“This land I’m on currently is amazing, you know, it’s really good. I’m grateful to be here,” he said.
“It made me feel like I was going to live, you know. The helicopter was the first I have seen of any boat for three months.”