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 yacht 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 life raft 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.
“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 life raft 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 sea was our life, the animals were our neighbours. I couldn’t believe that we were going back to human civilisation and we were wondering what civilisation has to offer us now.”
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.
His death went unnoticed until Alvaro Cerezo, who had been in communication with Maurice for years, stopped receiving replies. After some investigating, he discovered his friend had died.
Mr Cerezo is a Spanish explorer who owns Docastaway, the only company in the world that helps people to spend time completely alone on desert islands.
Mr Cerezo has released an interview with Maurice from 2016 because he “wanted to do something special for this beautiful couple”.
“Through time, this adventure has fallen into oblivion,” Mr Cerezo told news.com.au.
“Maurice and Maralyn spent four months on a damaged inflatable life raft and they became the longest lasting castaways at sea in a device like that.
“Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet Maralyn. I would have loved it. Maurice was definitely a very special person.”
Mr Cerezo said that since Maralyn’s death, Maurice lived completely alone and cut himself off from society.
“When I say ‘alone’ I’m not trying to exaggerate as Maurice has no one else in this world. It was hard to believe that I was maybe the only person who maintained contact with him until his death.
“Sometimes I called him, other times we wrote to each other via emails. I always insisted on the need to have an alternative contact in case I stopped receiving mail or he didn’t answer my calls. He couldn’t give me this for, though it’s hard to believe, he had no one.
Alvaro Cerezo has created a tribute website for Maurice and Maralyn Bailey. Visit thebaileys.docastaway.com for more information.
To read the full story about the Baileys, visit Alvaro Cerezo’s story on the couple’s 117 days journey.
To read Maurice and Maralyn’s book, 117 Days Adrift, visit booktopia.com.au.
You can follow Alvaro Cerezo’s castaway adventures on his Facebook page.