Two men were fishing nearly 40 miles off the coast of Borobo in the Philippines, when they spotted a 40-foot yacht which appeared to be half-submerged, with a broken mast. When authorities came aboard, they stumbled upon a chilling sight: the mummified body of the yacht’s captain, sitting below decks and still clutching the ship’s radio handset.
Manfred Fritz Bajorat, a 59-year-old German explorer, had sailed nearly all the oceans of the world over the two decades before his death – the cause of which has not yet been identified. Doctors on the site did not suspect foul play, theorizing that the man may have died suddenly of a heart attack, and had been in the process of calling for help.
As of this writing, it has not yet been determined how long ago he died, though a friend told German newspaper BILD that the last he’d heard from Bajorat was a year ago, in the form of a Facebook post on his birthday. Unique conditions in the area, including hot, dry winds and a high concentration of salt in the air, may have prevented his body from fully decomposing.
Despite the damage to the vessel, those who knew Bajorat told BILD that he was experienced enough to avoid sailing into a storm. He had also kept a regular journal of his travels via Facebook.
The waterlogged photo albums and journals stored aboard painted a colorful picture of a romantic and adventurous life, but one also darkened by tragedy. Bajorat lost his wife to cancer in 2010, and his last written words to her, found on an internet forum for German seafarers, refer to the “demons” of her illness overpowering her will to live.