On February 26, 2016, local fishermen off the coast of the Philippine Island of Mindanao came upon a boat drifting in the sea. It was a yacht that was adrift at sea. It was in a damaged condition and about to sink. It looked like a ghost ship with a broken mast. When the fishermen boarded the vessel, they discovered something more chilling than they could ever have imagined. It was the mummified corpse of a German sailor named Manfred Fritz Bajorat. The body was found at the very spot that Bajorat had died.
The authorities had been able to identify the corpse with the help of documents that were scattered around his cabin on the boat. The cause of his death was revealed to be a heart attack in an autopsy conducted on his corpse. Bajorat was around 59 years at the time of his death. His yacht which measured 40 feet had been adrift at sea for many weeks and the salty air of the ocean had bizarrely preserved his body.
The eerie incident was reported globally, especially on online media. All over the world, the same question was asked about how Manfred Fritz Bajorat wound up adrift in the Philippine Sea all alone? There was only a note that Bajorat had left behind which could give some clues. The note was sad in tone and was addressed to someone whom Bajorat was attached to as he had mentioned that they had been together for thirty years and that the person had then gone i.e., died and he wished that the person’s soul would find peace. The story of Bajorat’s life and death had been even more frightening than the circumstances in which he was found.
The discovery of the corpse
The weather was very good on the day on which Manfred Fritz Bajorat’s body was found. The sea was calm and the sky was clear. It was perfect for fishing. Christopher Rivas, a 23-year-old fisherman from the Philippine town of Barobo along with his friend had counted on the weather being clear for their chance of good fishing and they had gone fishing about 40 miles from the coast when they spotted the boat. The yacht was white and was named ‘Sayo’. From a distance, it looked to be in bad condition with a broken mast and a hull that was partially sunk. When Rivas and his friend found the corpse, they alerted the police, who waited for the results of the autopsy to rule out any foul play.
The cause of death was ruled by the Police to be acute myocardial infarction based on the autopsy report by the regional crime laboratory. The report also stated that the German man was estimated to have been dead for seven days or more. According to forensic experts at the London school of medicine and dentistry, the air, heat, and saltiness of the sea were all very favorable to the process of mummification which was believed to usually start within two to three weeks of death. The process started with the fingers and other extremities drying quickly and in one to two months they can become completely mummified.
The yacht contained many family photos depicting a happy Bajorat with his wife and daughter. The collection included photos of the family at Notre Dame in Paris as well as other picnics in the city. The photos all depicted a close and happy family with Bajorat loving his wife and daughter a lot. When the German embassy in the Philippines tried to contact Bajorat’s family, they found that his wife had died of cancer in 2010. When the authorities brought his daughter to the Philippines to identify the body, they found that Bajorat had been sailing alone in the ocean for many years, probably as a reaction against the break-up of his family.
Lost at Sea
Bajorat was an experienced sailor and had clocked up half a million nautical miles during his lifetime. Initially, he was accompanied by his wife, but they had divorced in 2008. After his ex-wife died two years later and his grown-up daughter had taken a job working as the captain of a freight vessel, Bajorat had lived almost permanently at sea. He started on board the Hyundai Renaissance Freighter in August 2008 and traveled across the Equator from Singapore to Durban, South Africa, and later sailed to the Spanish island of Mallorca where a Spanish sailor named Dieter was impressed by him. Dieter had later refused to believe that Bajorat could have sailed into a storm as he was a very experienced sailor. He believed that the mast of Bajorat’s yacht broke after Bajorat had already died. A document found on the yacht showed that it had been cleared by maritime police in 2013, either in Sao Vicente, Brazil, or Sao Vicente, Cape Verde. He had then begun his solo seafaring voyages and regularly posted updates on his Facebook page and responded to birthday messages from onboard his yacht.
According to some reports, Bajorat hadn’t been seen personally by anyone since 2009. He didn’t like the cold climate of his native country, Germany, and had spent the last two decades of his life finding more hospitable weather. But in the end, all the left behind were photos and a note to his wife whom he had loved intensely.