Timothy Lyndsay Shaddock — the Australian sailor who made headlines for being rescued after nearly three months at sea with his dog, Bella — says he had his “finger ready on the SOS button” and had been in contact with his family during the ordeal but chose not to call for help despite being stuck in the Pacific Ocean.
In an interview with Australian morning show “Today” on Thursday morning, host Karl Stefanović asked, “You had the ability to call for help, and that you were texting your family during the whole process. Why didn’t you shout out and say, ‘Yo, come get me’?”
Shaddock, 54, said there are “protocols” in place for making a “Mayday” call, but he seemed to suggest he didn’t feel his circumstances were dire enough to warrant calling for help.
“It might have been my pride and a few other things as well, so I put that caveat in there,” he said. “But you really want to be saying, ‘Hey, this is it. There’s a time period where I actually will be underwater or not here anymore.’ And so I wasn’t at that point.”
When his family warned him of an impending storm, Shaddock said, that’s when he considered maybe it was time to call for help — but the helicopter of a Mexican tuna fishing boat spotted him first.
“I had my finger ready on the SOS button, but my family actually took the preemptive approach and warned me of what was coming,” he said. “The chopper showed up before I engaged that process.”
Shaddock said he was definitely “entertaining the idea” of continuing to figure things out on his own without calling for help.
“But when [the chopper] showed up, it was very clear that between the hurricane and what was looking like a situation where I would not make it — at that point in time it definitely would have been worthwhile engaging some sort of Mayday call,” he said.
It’s unclear what hurricane Shaddock was referring to. However, Tropical Storm Calvin, which was downgraded from a hurricane, barreled through the Pacific earlier this week, eventually making landfall in Hawaii.
An ocean voyage gone wrong
The Sydney native set sail in April with Bella in a catamaran from the Mexican city of La Paz with the intention of crossing the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia. But weeks into the journey, his boat was crippled by a storm that knocked out his electronics and ability to cook, leaving Shaddock and his furry companion to survive on a diet of raw fish.
Eventually they were spotted by a helicopter about 1,200 miles from land, with Shaddock saying it was the first sign of humans he had seen in three months. It isn’t clear when he and his dog were rescued, but the tuna fishing boat Maria Delia brought the pair to land at a port in Manzanillo, Mexico, on Tuesday. Bella will stay with a member of the crew that rescued them, while Shaddock planned to return to Australia.
When asked why he embarked on the voyage in the first place, Shaddock was initially at a loss, the Associated Press reported.
“I’m not sure I have the answer to that, but I very much enjoy sailing, and I love the people of the sea,” he said. “It’s the people of the sea that make us all come together. The ocean is in us. We are the ocean.”