I spend alot of my spare time on the internet reading and doing research for my upcoming sailboat purchase. A big advantage of being 50 years old is having the good sense to not give in to impulse. I would like to think I’m much wiser than in my youth, lessons learned the hard way as I’m sure some of you have done also. I try to look at things with a much more steady gaze, try to apply a good dose of common sense to all things in life. Mick Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” How true is that!
Many things I have wanted in this life have been almost within reach, only to be dashed on the rocks of reality by impatience, insecurity, inexperience and just plain old stupidity. I am determined to not let the ways of youth interfere in my plans, never again give in to a fear of failure or the wishes of others. I will follow my dream to the end, even if it kills me.
I have a running joke I share with my mom. I told her, “Someday they will find me dead and mummified in my boat with a note attached to me that says, Just drop me off the side and the boat is yours!” I thought it funny, a silly comment to my mother to make her laugh, but last night that all changed. Last night I found, in all the crap on the web, a story eerily familiar. Caution: Graphic Images!
The mummified remains of a German sailor named Manfred Fritz Bajorat, 59, were discovered off the coast of the Philippines last week. A crew of fishermen made the grisly discovery aboard the “ghost yacht” Sayo, which has been drifting silently around the world for months or years.
Fisherman Christopher Rivas and his colleagues were set to return home after a fishing expedition when they spotted the yacht’s half-submerged hull of the yacht. The ship was drifting roughly 40 miles from the coast of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. They decided to board.
Bajorat’s desiccated body was discovered slumped over a desk. He was identified by paperwork found on the ship.
He was sitting beside photographs and a haunting letter to his wife Claudia, who died from cancer in 2010. The couple were thought to have broken up in 2008. There were also clothing, photo albums, and cans of food discovered strewn all over the Sayo’s interior.
Bajorat’s letter said: “Thirty years we’re been together on the same path. Then the power of the demons was stronger than the will to live. You’re gone. May your soul find its peace. Your Manfred.” Photos near the body depict a life full of travel and good times with friends.
The corpse was seated near the haunted ship’s radio telephone, perhaps as if he had tried to make a desperate mayday call.
No one is certain how long ago Bajorat died, but the last reported sighting of him was in 2009. Police are trying to retrace his last voyage by finding people who had seen or interacted with him.
The Sayo’s mast was broken, and the cabin was partially submerged, but it’s not clear what may have led to Bajorat’s death.
In 2009 in Mallorca he met another world sailor, who told investigators: “He was a very experienced sailor. I don’t believe he would have sailed into a storm. I believe the mast broke after Manfred was already dead.”
The last contact Bajorat is thought to have had with the outside world was a birthday message he sent to a friend on Facebook a year ago.
His body will undergo an autopsy to discover the cause of death. Dry ocean winds, hot temperatures, and salty sea air probably helped to preserve Bajorat’s remains.
Dr. Mark Benecke, a forensic criminologist in Germany, believes the captain died suddenly. “The way he is sitting seems to indicate that death was unexpected, perhaps from a heart attack,” he said.
Police are trying to determine whether the doomed sailor may have been trying to send a mayday message before he died. They have said, however, that there was “no evidence of a second person aboard and no weapon was found on the yacht,” according to a police spokesman.
The German embassy in Manila is working with local officials to locate Bajorat’s family in Germany.
Story and photo’s from Hooch.net and UK Daily mail
As I read the story again, I can’t help but feel the unbelievable loneliness he must have felt after the death of his wife. I feel the crushing weight of despair and sadness that must have been the last moments of his life. It may sound funny but this story brings my plan into focus, a very clear vision in my mind that life on a sailboat is the one thing I have been searching for all my life. Manfred lived and died the way he wanted to, never letting anyone control his path or way of life. He yearned for adventure like a dreamer, but had the forethought of a thinker. He may not have had control over how he died, but he knew where it would happen. In the place he called home.
I believe we all have a path to follow, a road that is filled with rocks, holes and many other thing we can stumble on. When we are young our eyes are in the sky, looking for what is over the next horizon, never mindful of looking at the road before us. Always trying to achieve some grandiose plan, find our place in this world, make a name for ourselves.
When we mature we realize, our place was there all the time, right in front of us. It can be as simple as finding the right person to spend our life with, or a place you can call home. The day when you understand what brings you happiness, what makes your heart soar with the inspiration of youth, tempered with the wisdom of age, that is the first day of the better part of life.
The sum of our life is not measured by the preponderance of our achievements, the totality of our possessions. Our fulfillment, the feeling of success is measured by our ability to reach others on a deeper level, to reach in and touch the soul of people who feel the same as us. To truly connect with others is to truly understand what it means to be alive. I think Manfred knew that in his life. But I also think he gave in to the pain of loss instead of letting the joy of his time with his wife, and the true friends he had, fill him with peace and the understanding that he did make his mark on this world, he did touch the soul of others. He certainly touched mine. Goodbye Manfred, may you rest in peace. I will never forget you.