Adventurer's Mummified Body Found Sitting at Yacht Desk

Manfred Fritz Bajorat's death remains a mystery
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2016 7:00 PM CST
Updated Mar 5, 2016 2:50 PM CST
Mummified Body on 'Ghost Yacht' Leaves Police Baffled
A yacht is seen adrift in this file photo.   (AP Photo/The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia, Grant Pipe)

Fishermen spotted a yacht with a broken mast drifting near the Philippines on Feb. 26 and discovered the owner inside, but the story doesn't have a happy ending. Manfred Fritz Bajorat, 59, was slumped beside the ship's radio telephone, long dead and apparently mummified by the ocean's hot temperatures and salty, dry winds, the Mirror reports. What police found pointed to a life of adventure and a marriage that collapsed along the way. What isn't clear is how or when Bajorat died: "It is still a mystery to us," a detective on Mindanao Island tells the Telegraph. Police say there's no evidence of another person on board and no weapon was in the partly flooded cabin. Neither was Bajorat's wallet, but expensive items like a GPS system were still on board the $180,000 yacht, Australia's News Network reports. A doctor suggests he might have died suddenly of a heart attack.

Documentation and recovered photos helped authorities identify Bajorat, a German adventurer who began sailing the world with his wife, Claudia, 20 years ago, the Independent reports. Photos of them picnicking and visiting the Arc de Triomphe in Paris indicate a carefree life, but they split in 2008 and Claudia died of cancer two years later. "Thirty years we've been together on the same path," wrote Bajorat in an online tribute. "Then the power of the demons was stronger than the will to live." Bajorat continued sailing between the Pacific and Europe, and his final position indicates he might have been seeking help by radio. "He was a very experienced sailor," says a fellow seaman. "I don't believe he would have sailed into a storm. I believe the mast broke after Manfred was already dead." An autopsy is pending. (Japanese cab drivers reported "ghost passengers" after the tsunami.)

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