The husband of a British couple who survived for more than 117 days lost at sea
in the Pacific Ocean has died, more than 30 years after their survival story.
Maurice Bailey, along with his wife Maralyn, departed Southampton in a 9.4m yacht named the Auralyn at the beginning of 1973. They had sold all of their belongings to buy the boat and make the journey south.
They had intended to emigrate to New Zealand and begin a new life abroad but their sailboat sank.
The couple made it safely through the Panama Canal and the Galápagos Islands when on March 4, their vessel was struck by a whale off the coast of Guatemala and sank.
The pair evacuated to an inflatable life raft, transferring as many supplies as they could, including some food and a compass.
They survived by "almost continually" bailing water out of the liferaft "night and day", while collecting rainwater and killing turtles, birds and fish with their bare hands for food.
The pair claimed hundreds of animals approached the liferaft and followed them on their journey.
Maurice said that the animals were their friends and helped them to alleviate their isolation. Maralyn said: "After so many months with them, we felt just like sea creatures ourselves".
"They (the animals) were around us all the time," Maurice told Alvaro Cerezo in a never-before-seen documentary.
"One of the chief things we killed which didn't please us that much were turtles.
"They are such harmless creatures … we killed it. Decapitated it and killed it.
" … I didn't like it at all."
After their rescue, the pair became vegetarians.
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"We thought we wouldn't kill any more animals or allow any more animals to be killed, so we became vegetarians. I haven't eaten meat since that event."
At least seven ships passed the couple during their ordeal but the crews never spotted the couple adrift, and so their boat floated further and further away from land, into remote sections of the Pacific Ocean, all while their liferaft deteriorated.
At the beginning of their journey adrift they would read or play card games, but by the end malnutrition and weather conditions made any physical activity proved difficult and dangerous.
The couple drifted 2400km in the raft until they were rescued by a South Korean fishing boat, the Weolmi 306, on June 30, 1973. The couple were lost at sea for four months.
"Maralyn said, 'I can hear a ship', Maurice recalled.
"Sure enough, a ship appeared on the horizon. They saw us, the fisherman saw us. I don't think when they called the captain he could believe it.
The pair had lost 40kg each while their legs could barely support their weight.
The couple returned to England and wrote a book of their ordeal a year later, 117 Days Adrift.
Maralyn died of cancer in 2002 aged 61 and Maurice lived a solitary life until since his death in December 2018. He lived his last years extremely lonely.
"It's a lonely life but I'm happy being lonely I think," he said.
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Source : NZ Herald